By: Luke Johns
I promise this isn’t one of those “Please Like My Sport” hockey articles you’ll see on the internet from time to time. It’s simply bringing to light just how good some of the young players in the NHL are – players whose ages are the same as those in the Mizzou student body.
After watching bits and pieces of the Maple Leafs-Oilers game Tuesday night and being exposed to the last two top overall picks go head-to-head, it got me thinking that the league currently seems to have more young star power then they have had in my lifetime. Maybe it’s the fact that the young nucleus burst onto the scene when social media and technology is at its peak, so they’re getting more attention than they would if they played in an earlier era. But at the same time when the league creates an under-23 Team North America super team in an international tournament to showcase these young studs, it is telling that the league is filled with outstanding young players.
Both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have been called generational talents who already have double-digit points on the young season. Both have scored highlight reel goals in the NHL and popular opinion is that they’ll be the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin stars that the Generation Alpha of hockey players will grow up watching. However the difference is the players in the league whose ages are in the vicinity of McDavid and Matthews have the potential to have even better careers than those who are Crosby and Ovechkin’s ages.
How exactly would you determine that? Well it isn’t exactly a tangible thing to measure and since the days of 70-80-goal seasons are behind us you would be correct to say that this generation of superstars won’t score as many goals as players did in the 1980s and 90s. However the way to tell is whether or not this generation of superstars currently in the league (we’ll call it drafted between 2011 and 2017) is consistently at the top of the league’s scoring rankings year after year. Johnny Gaudreau was tied for sixth last season and Connor McDavid is currently tied for second in points—albeit it’s very early—so the players drafted in that time frame are starting to make their mark, and I think beginning perhaps even this year players drafted in that time frame will consistently be at the top of the scoring list contending for Art Ross Trophies.
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are still the faces of the league as far as I’m concerned, but it won’t be too long before McDavid, Matthews, Gaudreau, Patrick Laine, Jack Eichel, Nathan McKinnon, Dylan Larkin, Mitchell Marner and many others take the reins as the top players in the league. And based on early indications of what they’ve shown, this group consists of a lot of the league’s most talented players all of whom were born within months and years of each other. Hockey fans are in for a treat with what we’ll have to watch for many years to come.
(Featured Image: Connor Mah, Flickr)