October 25, 2011 :: 2:29pm ET It's a young man's game
If you haven't noticed, there's quite the youth-movement in the NHL
right now, explains TFP Columnist Tab Bamford.
CHICAGO, IL -- You have to wonder how many NHL general managers are
humming a Katy Perry song while they walk around their offices.
Looking at the crop of talent breaking into the NHL this year, and
some of the names that have some fan bases excited, some of these kids
will be thinking about their second pro contract before they reach the
legal drinking age in the United States.
Edmonton might be the, pardon the pun, poster child organization for
the current youth movement. Their leading scorer is 18-year-old Ryan
Nugent-Hopkins, who has five goals in his first seven NHL contests.
Taylor Hall, a 19-year-old veteran this year, is right behind him in
scoring for the Oilers.
The defending champs have struggled through some early season
injuries, but Tyler Seguin has been a revelation. After a 22-point
rookie season, Seguin has been the best offensive threat in Boston
this year where he's posted nine points in eight games. He won't turn
20 until the last day of January.
Jeff Skinner hasn't been a disappointment in Carolina, but he'll have
two full seasons on his resume before his 20th birthday. He had an
easier time putting the puck in the net than he did growing a beard
last year; he scored 31 goals and added 32 assists while receiving
invitations to high school dances.
Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, also 18, has been outstanding for the
Avs. On a fast team, he hasn't looked out of place yet and has helped
the Avs deal with more missed games from Peter Mueller. He scored two
big goals, including the game-tying tally inside the final two minutes
in Chicago on Saturday night.
Those Blackhawks might not have a teenager on their roster right now,
but the organization is thrilled by the play of Pittsburgh-area native
Brandon Saad. The fourth pick by Chicago, and 43rd overall selection,
in the 2011 Draft, Saad started the year in Chicago before he was
assigned back to Saginaw of the OHL. On Monday, he was named the OHL
Player of the Week after posting six goals and four assists in only
three games. On Oct. 27, he'll reach 19 years of age.
Winnipeg may have re-assigned Mark Scheifele, 18, to juniors, but he
scored his first NHL goal before the assignment. Meanwhile,
18-year-old Sean Couturier moving in with Danny Briere would seem to
indicate the Flyers have high hopes for the 2011 pick -- in the NHL.
A couple young defencemen have been skating regular minutes as well.
Adam Larsson won't turn 19 until mid-November, but he's been skating
almost 24 minutes per game for the Devils. Erik Gudbranson won't turn
20 until January, but he's establishing himself in Florida early this
Both of them hope to have a rookie season that equals Cam Fowler's in
Anaheim last year; for what it's worth, Fowler doesn't turn 20 until
All over the NHL, there are youngsters making an impact early this
season. It has been years, if not decades, since this many teenagers
were making a strong impact early in an NHL season. There have been a
few baby-faced players that have been successful in given years, like
Colorado's Matt Duchene last year or Patrick Kane in Chicago and
Nicklas Backstrom in Washington in 2007, but this many kids starting
this well is almost unheard of.
With so many general managers living the "teenage dream," one has to
wonder if this trend will complete Perry's chorus. Will front offices
go young and "never look back?"