This is not hyperbole: the NHL is at its best years right now. The talent in the league has never been higher and one glimpse at all the up-and-coming players teases an even brighter future for the league. Several of these young players like Jason Robertson and Jack Hughes participated in the recent NHL All-Star Game.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 7, 2023
*Note: The players on this list are under 25 years old as of the publication of this article. Also, we excluded players who have not played enough NHL games – mostly rookies this 2022-23 season.
Rank 25-16: Future All-Stars and Leaders
- 25. F Trevor Zegras, 21, Anaheim Ducks
- 24. F Brandon Hagel, 24, Tampa Bay Lightning
- 23. F Dylan Cozens, 21, Buffalo Sabres
- 22. F Martin Necas, 24, Carolina Hurricanes
- 21. F Jesper Bratt, 24, New Jersey Devils
- 20. F Cole Caufield, 22, Montreal Canadiens
- 19. F Nick Suzuki, 23, Montreal Canadiens
- 18. F Robert Thomas, 23, St. Louis Blues
- 17. G Jeremy Swayman, 24, Boston Bruins
- 16. F Pierre-Luc Dubois, 24, Winnipeg Jets
Most if not all of these players will be fixtures in the NHL All-Star Game or will, at minimum, be top-six forwards. The Eastern Conference dominates this section with a pair of Canadiens. Several players already play pivotal roles for top contenders like Necas in Carolina, Hagel in Tampa, and Swayman in Boston.
Suzuki is also the captain of the Canadiens, one of the toughest markets to play for. That nets you bonus points. Bratt is one of three Devils on this list and has already made a name for himself as one of New Jersey’s top goal-scorers. He may be a sneaky good bet online to lead the NHL in goals in the future.
Ranks 15-6: Future Superstars and Franchise Cornerstones
- 15. F Nico Hischier, 24, New Jersey Devils
- 14. F Jordan Kyrou, 24, St. Louis Blues
- 13. F Clayton Keller, 24, Arizona Coyotes
- 12. D Miro Heiskanen, 23, Dallas Stars
- 11. F Tim Stutzle, 21, Ottawa Senators
- 10. G Carter Hart, 24, Philadelphia Flyers
- 9. F Brady Tkachuk, 21, Ottawa Senators
- 8. D Quinn Hughes, 23, Vancouver Canucks
- 7. G Jake Oettinger, 24, Dallas Stars
- 6. F Elias Petersson, 24, Vancouver Canucks
The players on this portion of the list have the makings to be a superstar. That’s the type of player to be a contender for an NHL award with multiple All-Star selections. While we’re not sure they will hit the same heights as Auston Matthews, they will be in that next tier. Franchises like Ottawa, Vancouver, and Dallas are in good hands with multiple players on this list.
Stutzle and Tkachuk could be the next potent duo in Canada’s capital since Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Vancouver is often a doormat on the online gambling lines, but the likes of Hughes and Petersson will continue to produce at a high level. And Dallas’ place as an elite team will remain for as long as Oettinger and Heiskanen are with the team.
Ranks 5-1: The NHL’s Next Great Ones
- 5. F Andrei Svechnikov, 22, Carolina Hurricanes
- 4. D Adam Fox, 24, New York Rangers
- 3. F Jason Robertson, 23, Dallas Stars
- 2. F Jack Hughes, 21, New Jersey Devils
- 1. D Cale Makar 24, Colorado Avalanche
These five players can already be considered superstars. Makar is 24 but already has a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, and Norris in his trophy case. When he’s finished, he may go down as the best defenseman since Bobby Orr. And Fox is no slouch either as he too should win multiple awards.
As for Svechnikov, Robertson, and Hughes, they all play differently but at an elite level. They already have All-Star appearances and play on top contenders. Look for them to be fixtures in NHL highlight reels as well as the engine that drives a potential Stanley Cup-winning team.