There is no doubt that the NHL has gotten better and better the last couple years with the emergence of the young superstars, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. But it doesn’t end there. The league is filled with young players that will make this sport very exciting for years to come. Here are a couple players to keep your eyes on next year.
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar: Anze was the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft and is only 20 years old. The Slovenian in two full years has already complied 52 goals and 86 assists, including 32 and 45 this year for a team that finished dead last with 71 points. Once this organization surrounds Anze with more talent look for him to start putting up 100 point seasons.
Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf: Ryan played in his third season this year for the Ducks after being selected 19th overall in the 2003 NHL draft. The 23 year old Canadian had 82 points this season and often plays on the same line as 22 year old right winger Corey Perry (29 goals this season). The more these two play with one another the better they will get.
Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane: Patrick played in his first NHL season this year for Chicago and put up 21 goals and 51 assists. The American was drafted first overall in the 2007 NHL draft and is still just a teenager (19). His teammate Jonathan Towes who was selected third overall in the 2006 draft is another youngster to watch. The Canadian Towes is only 20 years old and amassed 54 points in his rookie season.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom: Just like Sid the Kid has Malkin, Ovechkin has Backstrom. The Swede was drafted right after Towes in the 2006 NHL draft (fourth overall) and played in all 82 games this year for Washington which was his rookie season. The 20-year old scored 14 goals and had 55 assists and helped lead his team to the Southeast Division title.
The list goes on, but these guys are some of my favorites. But just to mention a couple more to watch, here’s a few more:
Phoenix Coyote center Peter Mueller, Edmonton’s two young centers Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, and New York Rangers’ rookies Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes.
Let’s also take a look at the top five prospects for the 2008 NHL Draft:
18 year old Canadian center man Steven Stamkos:
17 year old Russian winger Nikita Filatov:
18 year old Canadian defense man Drew Doughty:
Drew Doughty highlights right here.
18 year old Canadian forward Cody Hodgson:
18 year old Canadian defense man Alex Pietrangelo:
Alex Pietrangelo highlights right here.
And in nine years, look for Max Gerlach to be selected number one overall:
I’m not sure why half of these guys are considered “2008 prospects.” I believe Getzlaf is on his 2nd NHL contract already. Kopitar has been in the league for a while too. Kane played a full season in Chicago as did Backstrom. These guys aren’t prospects anymore.
Ah nevermind… I re-read and now understand that only the last five guys are prospects.