Choosing the best NHL players by age

Choosing the best NHL players by age

Kyle Hatty, Hockey Beat Reporter

Age 18: Jack Hughes

It’s hard to grade 18-year olds, but Hughes has already shown flashes that his ceiling is extremely high.

Honorable Mention: Moritz Seider

Age 19: Rasmus Dahlin

Dahlin has quietly become one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL in Buffalo and he’s only getting better.

Honorable Mention: Andrei Svechnikov

Age 20: Quinn Hughes

Quinn joins his brother on this list after making the All-Star game as a defenseman and becoming a piece to build around in Vancouver, dominating on both ends of the ice.

Honorable Mention: Miro Heiskanen

Age 21: Cale Makar

Makar is giving Quinn Hughes a run for his money in the Calder race this season, and he is already becoming a building block in Colorado as the Avalanche pursue their first Stanley Cup since 2001.

Honorable Mention: Elias Petterson

Age 22: Auston Matthews

The Arizona native is arguably a top five goal scorer in the game today and will likely center the top line for the United States if the NHL allows its players to compete in the next Olympics.

Honorable Mention: Mathew Barzal

Age 23: Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid is the best hockey player on the planet, and it isn’t close. Nothing more needs to be said.

Honorable Mention: David Pastrnak

Age 24: Leon Draisaitl

It’s hard to imagine Nathan MacKinnon didn’t win his age group but Draisaitl has become the perfect complement to McDavid and seems to be getting better every year, which is scary to think about considering he’s on pace to win the Art Ross this season.

Honorable Mention: Nathan MacKinnon

Age 25: Andrei Vasilevskiy

The 25-year-old stepped into the big shoes of Ben Bishop and has led the league in wins every year for the past three seasons while anchoring the net in Tampa Bay.

Honorable Mention: Filip Forsberg

Age 26: Nikita Kucherov

Kucherov has been the most productive forward over the last couple years not named Connor McDavid. The Russian native tallied 128 points last season on the way to winning his first Hart Trophy.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Huberdeau

Age 27: Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov was a crucial piece of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run, and his mix of speed and vision is lethal in the offensive zone.

Honorable Mention: John Klingberg

Age 28: Artemi Panarin

Panarin and Taylor Hall were hard to choose between, but Panarin has been more productive for a longer stretch of time without slowing down or suffering a major injury.

Honorable Mention: Taylor Hall

Age 29: Erik Karlsson

The choice for this age group was easy. Karlsson is arguably the best offensive defenseman in the NHL, and has accumulated two Norris Trophies and he even averaged a point per game from the blue line during the 2015-16 season.

Honorable Mention: John Tavares

Age 30: Steven Stamkos

Outside of Alex Ovechkin, Stamkos likely has the most feared one-timer in the NHL and is one of the most complete offensive centers when healthy.

Honorable Mention: John Carlson

Age 31: Patrick Kane

Kane may go down as the best American player of all time. Three Stanley Cups, a Hart Trophy and already over 1,000 career points, he will undoubtedly be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Honorable Mention: Brad Marchand

Age 32: Sidney Crosby

Crosby is a generational talent, and the three-time Stanley Cup champ’s ability to find his teammates in open ice is unmatched by any other player today.

Honorable Mention: Carey Price

Age 33: Evgeni Malkin

Malkin has always been viewed as a No. 2 in the league. He was picked second in the draft behind Ovechkin and has always lived in Crosby’s shadow in Pittsburgh — but no one in the game today uses size and speed as well as Malkin does.

Honorable Mention: Blake Wheeler

Age 34: Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin has been the best goal scorer in the NHL ever since he entered the league and after just hitting the 700-goal mark, it’s looking more likely every year that he will pass Gretzky and go down as the best scorer this league has ever seen.

Honorable Mention: Brent Burns

Age 35 and older: Joe Thornton

Jumbo Joe is still going strong at age 40. He currently sits fifteenth all-time in points and there may not be a more deserving player of a Stanley Cup than Thornton.

Honorable Mention: Duncan Keith

Kyle Hatty is a beat reporter for Impact 89FM WDBM who primarily covers hockey. Follow him on Twitter at @KyleHattyIN.