As I mentioned last week, I'm going to be doing different kinds of power rankings every week. This week, I'm ranking each team's best player under the age of 24 based mainly on their performances in 2021. Sorry, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel aren't eligible anymore because they're both 24.
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I ranked the players based on production, advanced stats (thank you Natural Stat Trick) and my own eyes.
If you agree or disagree with any of my rankings, please let me hear about it!
Here is this week's list:
1-Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
Laine has only played in one game, but he made quite the impression against the Calgary Flames. The 22-year-old scored two goals and he added an assist. The Finnish winger might not have much time left with his current organization, but he appears to be ready to make dent in the Canadian Division in 2021.
2-Kirill Kaprizov – Minnesota Wild:
The Russian forward has made quite the impression in his first two NHL games. In two contests against the Los Angeles Kings, the 23-year-old has picked up one goal and three assists. The Wild won both games in overtime and Kaprizov had a hand in each goal. He scored the game-winner on Thursday and he registered the primary helper on Marcus Johansson’s OT goal on Saturday.
3-Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs:
Matthews was quiet in Friday night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators, but he played a major part in wins over the Canadiens and Sens. The 23-year-old has three points in three games and he’s already up to 16 shots on goal. He’s also averaging an incredible 23:19 of ice time per game right now. The Leafs forward is rocking a CF% of 65.31 at five-on-five in 2021. He’s one of the five best players in the NHL.
4-Travis Konecny – Philadelphia Flyers:
Konecny put up a career-high 61 points in 66 games with the Flyers last season and he’s off to a blistering start in 2021. In two games this season (both against the Pittsburgh Penguins), the 23-year-old has scored three goals and two assists. Yes, four of those points came on Friday night, but nobody can deny his value to his team. No NHL player has more points than Konecny so far this season.
5-Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames:
Tkachuk has scored in back-to-back games and he’s managed to amass three points during this early-season stretch. The 23-year-old has 10 shots on goal and his team owns almost 66 percent of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice at even-strength and 80 percent of the high-danger chances. There aren’t many power forwards in the NHL that can do the things Tkachuk can do.
6-Max Comtois – Anaheim Ducks:
The Ducks have dropped their first two games of the season (both to Vegas), but Comtois has been a bright spot. The 22-year-old became the first player in franchise history to score the first three goals of the season (no one else on the roster has scored yet). He played just over 12 minutes in Saturday’s loss, so it’ll be interesting to see if head coach Dallas Eakins starts giving him more ice time.
7-Brady Tkachuk – Ottawa Senators:
The Sens are young. Really, really, really young. Tkachuk is young too, but he’s already emerged as one of the important leaders on this squad. He had a three-point night in his team’s opener against the Leafs on Friday night, but was a lot quieter the next night against the provincial rivals. When the 21-year-old is on the ice, the Senators have a CF% of 55.56 percent and they control over 90 percent (!!!) of the high-danger chances at even-strength.
8-Quinn Hughes – Vancouver Canucks:
Hughes picked up exactly where he left off last season. The 21-year-old managed to put together an incredibly rookie campaign and he’s already picked up three assists in his first three games. Hughes also played over 26 minutes in each of Vancouver’s last two outings. The Canucks defenseman missed practice on Sunday, but hopefully he won’t be forced to miss any game action because he’s a vital part of his team’s success.
9-Anthony Cirelli – Tampa Bay Lightning:
Cirelli has become a valuable two-way contributor for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a short amount of time. The 23-year-old averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game during Tampa’s run to the Stanley Cup last year and he’s off to a fast start in 2021. He’s amassed a goal and three points in the first two games of the season. When he’s only the ice, the Bolts control the shot attempts by a wide margin. His CF% is over 66 percent heading into the second week of the season.
10-Nick Suzuki – Montreal Canadiens:
Suzuki became a household name after his performance in the Toronto bubble. The 21-year-old center has picked up right where he left off back in August. He’s scored a goal and an assist (both on the power play) and he has continued to impress with his cerebral 200-foot game. It looks like the Habs might finally have some quality depth down the middle and it starts with Suzuki.
11-Andrei Svechnikov – Carolina Hurricanes:
Svechnikov has two goals (one empty-netter) and one assist in the first two games of the season (both against Detroit). The 20-year-old will be an important part of Carolina’s success and he should be able to improve his goals-per-game number in his third year. When Svechnikov is on the ice at five-on-five, the Hurricanes control more than 83 percent of the high-danger scoring chances so far in 2021. Yes, that number will come back down to Earth soon.
12-Clayton Keller – Arizona Coyotes:
Keller improved his points-per-game number from his first year to his second year, but the Coyotes will need him to take an even bigger leap in year three. He’s off to a fast start, as he’s scored in his team’s first two games and he added an assist. Keller has been skating on a line with veteran Derick Brassard and Tyler Pitlick.
13-Alex DeBrincat – Chicago Blackhawks:
DeBrincat scored 28 and 41 goals in his first two NHL seasons, but he managed to find the back of the net just 18 times in 70 games in 2019-20. The 23-year-old seems to have found his scoring touch in 2021 though, as he’s scored twice in his first three games (both goals were scored on the power play). Even though the Blackhawks probably won’t win many games this year, DeBrincat should still find a way to fill the scoresheet. Through three games, he’s been on the ice with Patrick Kane for almost 35 minutes at five-on-five (he hasn’t spent more than 16 minutes on the ice with any other forward).
14-Samuel Girard – Colorado Avalanche:
Girard has three helpers in two games against the St. Louis Blues while averaging over 22 minutes of ice time per game this season. The 22-year-old might not be as big a name as teammate Cale Makar, but his advanced metrics are better than Makar’s so far in 2021. With Girard on the ice, the Avs control 61 percent of the shot attempts and 75 percent of the high-danger chances. He's still so underrated.
15-Jack Hughes – New Jersey Devils:
Through two games, the first overall pick in 2019 looks completely different than he did in his rookie season. Hughes looks more confident and comfortable on the ice in his sophomore year and he’s managed to register three assists in two games against Boston. The 19-year-old is also logging big minutes under head coach Lindy Ruff (he’s averaging 22:14 of ice time per game). He could put together a special season in Jersey.
16-Mathew Barzal – New York Islanders:
Barzal and the Islanders were locked into a bit of a contract dispute leading up to training camp, but that didn’t stop him from scoring a goal in the first game of the 2021 season. Unfortunately for the Isles and their young center, they were blanked by the Rangers in the second of their back-to-back meetings. Through two games, Barzal has a 58.93 CF%, 64.66 FF% and the Islanders control nearly 64 percent of the high-danger chances when he’s on the ice at five-on-five.
17-Kailer Yamamoto – Edmonton Oilers
Yamamoto hasn’t looked out of place while skating on a line with Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers forward will never be the biggest player on the ice, but he still managed to produce, as he has a goal and two assists in three games. He also managed to collect an impressive 26 points in 27 games with Edmonton last season, so he has a bit of a track record in the NHL. When Yamamoto is on the ice, the Oilers control 60 percent of the high-danger chances (having last year’s MVP on your line certainly helps).
18-Luke Kunin – Nashville Predators:
Kunin’s first two games for the Preds have gone pretty well. Not only has his team won both games, he’s also found the back of the net in each contest. The former Minnesota Wild forward was acquired during the off-season for Nick Bonino and some draft picks. He is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 15 goals in 63 games. He only has 54 more games to work with in 2021, but he has a legitimate shot to beat that number this season.
19-Robert Thomas – St. Louis Blues:
Thomas picked up a pair of assists in the regular season opener against the Colorado Avalanche (the Blues won 4-1), but he and the rest of his teammates were embarrassed in the second game against the Avs, 8-0. Thomas’ passing ability is impressive, so don’t be surprised if he continues piling up the helpers. When he’s on the ice, the Blues control 57 percent of the high-danger chances so far in 2021.
20-Eetu Luostarinen – Florida Panthers:
The 22-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes (Vincent Trocheck went to the Hurricanes in the deal) last February. The big Finnish forward picked up the game-winning goal and an assist in Sunday’s victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. He played most of the game on a line with Frank Vatrano and Owen Tippett, so there’s a chance that he could move up the lineup if he continues producing in a secondary role.
21-Mario Ferraro – San Jose Sharks
Ferraro has been skating on the Sharks’ first defense pairing with Brent Burns this season. In two games, he’s picked up an assist while averaging 22:05 of ice time. His advanced stats are off the charts (yes, small sample size). He has a CF% of 71.43 percent, a FF% of 75 percent and the Sharks control 76.47 percent of the high-danger chances when he’s on the ice. The 22-year-old gives the Sharks some much-needed new blood.
22-Charlie McAvoy – Boston Bruins:
With Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara no longer in the picture, McAvoy has been forced to log some heavy minutes in the first two games of the season. Yes, both games against the Devils went to overtime, but 25:33 and 27:34 are a lot of minutes for him to chew up. Thankfully for the Bruins, he’s young (that’s why he’s on this list) so he can handle that kind of workload. Don't be surprised if he moves up this list quickly.
23-Rasmus Dahlin – Buffalo Sabres:
Dahlin has gotten off to a quiet start offensively in a pair of losses to the Washington Capitals, but the 20-year-old will be the most important part of Buffalo’s defense this year. His CF% is currently 40 percent, but the high-danger chances are 50/50 when he’s on the ice. Dahlin is averaging just under 23 minutes of ice time per game in 2021. Like McAvoy, he should move up this list in the coming weeks.
24-Ilya Samsonov – Washington Capitals:
Samsonov has started two of Washington’s first three games this season and he’s looked okay. He allowed four goals in a win over Buffalo on Thursday and he allowed three more in a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Caps don’t have many players under 24 years old which means Samsonov won't have much competition to make this list. The Caps still need him to take his game to another level if they're going to compete for the Stanley Cup. It's still very early.
25-Gabriel Vilardi – Los Angeles Kings:
Vilardi found the back of the net in Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. The talented big man also sports a minus-3 rating through three games, but the Kings take 55.88 percent of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice. On the flip side, Los Angeles gives up almost 72 percent of the high-danger chances when he’s on the ice. Again, the sample size is small, but this list judges young players on what they’ve done so far in 2021. The 21-year-old still has a bright future ahead of him.
26-John Marino – Pittsburgh Penguins:
Marino is a good player and he’s the only current Penguin under the age of 24. The 23-year-old has been on pairings with Marcus Pettersson and Mike Matheson already this season. Marino hasn’t picked up a point and he has a minus-2 rating in three games, but he also has a CF% of 60 percent.
27-Alexandre Texier – Columbus Blue Jackets:
There are bigger names on the Blue Jackets roster that could be on this list, but Texier leads the team in scoring with a goal and an assist in two games (both points came on Saturday night). There are some major distractions surrounding the Jackets right now. They need their better players to step up if they’re going to make it back to the postseason.
28-Filip Hronek – Detroit Red Wings:
The 23-year-old is currently in his third NHL season and it’s clear that the rebuilding Red Wings are going to rely on him a lot. Hronek has one assist in two games and he’s played 24:22 and 25:22 in each of those outings. The Wings are bad, so don’t expect Hronek’s numbers to be overly impressive, but he’s an important part of this organization's present and future.
29-Kaapo Kakko – New York Rangers:
Alexis Lafreniere has better advanced numbers, but Kakko has found the back of the net once this season. The Rangers have a lot of young players on the roster in 2021, so they'll have some different names on this list throughout the season. It’ll be interesting to see if Kakko puts up better numbers than he did in his rookie season.
30-Cody Glass – Vegas Golden Knights
The young players on the Vegas roster haven’t made a huge impact on the team yet, but Glass has the highest ceiling of the bunch. He picked up an assist on an empty-net goal by Alex Tuch in the first game of the season. Glass could miss some games because the Golden Knights are right up against the salary cap and he doesn't need waivers to go down to the Taxi Squad.
31-Miro Heiskanen – Dallas Stars:
The Stars haven’t played a game in 2021because the team has been hit hard by Covid-19. The good news is that Heiskanen was able to return to practice on Sunday. The talented blueliner took a big step last year and he should continue to shine for the Stars in 2021. For now, he’s at the bottom of the list because he hasn’t played.