The biggest stars today – Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Zach Werenski, Mitch Marner, Jack Eichel, Willie Nylander, Sebastian Aho, Nathan Mackinnon, Bo Horvat, Sean Monahan, Dylan Larkin, Matthew Tkachuk, and many, many others – are just the beginning. Between 2013 and 2016, a massive amount of star young players came in through the draft and have had a near immediate impact on the NHL. Connor McDavid is leading the league in points, and the Maple Leafs are set to have three rookie 50-point scorers.
There’s still a large chunk of drafted players outside the NHL who will be absolute studs.
Clayton Keller, who was drafted 7th overall in 2016 by the Arizona Coyotes, leads the charge. The diminutive-but-dynamic center scored a stellar 20 goals and 22 assists in 29 games. To get an idea of how good that is, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames had 21 goals and 23 assists in 44 games. To compare the points-per-game rate of the two, Gaudreau scored one point per game in his freshman season, as opposed to Keller’s 1.44 points per game. And Keller scored about 30 points in his final 15 games, which makes his stat line even more impressive.
Kirill Kaprizov is one of the best young players in Russia – he’s so good, in fact, that his year compared with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s U19 KHL record. He dominated at the World Juniors Championship, and played well on a decent team. The 5th Round Draft Pick of Minnesota has one year left on his contract, but is absolutely looking to come over to North America and dominate here.
Thomas Chabot, Ottawa’s premier defensive prospect, rounds out the top three. Chabot almost made the big league right out of the draft, but instead returned to junior for another season. After a dominant showing at the World Juniors scoring over a point per game and continuing on to help Saint John to a great year, the plans are for Thomas to join the Senators next season.
There are plenty of other names, such as Brock Boeser, Mikhail Sergachev, Logan Brown, Thatcher Demko, Igor Shestyorkin, Tyson Jost, Adam Mascherin, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, and many others who could step in to their team’s lineups in the next one or two years.
The future is bright for the NHL indeed.