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NHL

Hot List: Top 25 NHL Players Under the Age of 25

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Top 25 Under 25

25
Kelly L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The amount of young talent entering the NHL each year is undeniable, with a number of players making an impact at very young ages. More and more top draft picks are jumping right from junior to their respective NHL clubs and making an impact immediately.

There are teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche or New York Islanders whose youth movements are well underway with multiple youngsters playing prominent roles.

Or there are teams like the Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins who have already seen their young stars hoist a Stanley Cup and are still in their 20’s.

2013 represents the changing of the guard to a certain extent. With previous names on the list such as Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar, Nik Backstrom, Bobby Ryan, Phil Kessel, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and others now 25+ years of age, they no longer qualify for this list.

That is not to suggest there isn't a multitude of viable candidates still eligible. There were as many as 50 players that were taking into serious consideration when paring down this list. What it does suggest is that the future of NHL hockey is in good hands for years to come, and a number of players could force their way onto this list with a good year.

Click Next for a look at my top 25 players under the age of 25 of 2013, and let the debate begin.

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Honorable Mention: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche, Age 20

Landeskog
Bruce Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Named the Avalanche's captain after just his rookie season, the young Swede brings the total package of leadership, skill and grit to the table

Last year's Calder Trophy winner had 22 goals and was an impressive +20 to lead his team by a wide margin.

Out for the bulk of 2013 so far with a concussion, he is back in the lineup now, if he continues to improve he will quickly climb higher on this list.

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Honorable Mention: Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues, Age 24

Shattenkirk
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coming over from Colorado in the Erik Johnson trade, Shattenkirk was thought to be the secondary piece to go with Chris Stewart.

He has certainly made the Avalanche think twice about that decision. He put up 43 points from the blue line last year to go with a +20 rating, and has 15 points in 18 games on the current season, good for 2nd in the league amongst defencemen.

He also plays over 22 minutes a night for the Blues second only to Alex Pietrangelo.

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25. Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers, Age 22

Del Zotto
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

An offensive defenceman by trade, Del Zotto quarterbacks the Ranger power play. He's a smooth skater, moves the puck very well and has a knack for getting pucks through from the blueline.

He put up an impressive 41 points and +20 rating last season and forms a very solid top four pairing with Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

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24. Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres, Age 23

Myers
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, Myers would likely have been much higher on the list. The 2010 Rookie of the Year unfortunately has seen his ice time and production drop in each of the last few seasons.

Last year he was having a very strong campaign until it was interrupted by injury and he has been struggling to regain his form since. Still possesses as much upside as any player in the league, the Sabres blueliner has a combination of size (6'8") and skating ability that very few players do.

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23. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche, Age 24

Varlamov
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Varlamov has good size and mobility and is positionally sound. He unfortunately been a victim of lack of support on many nights this year and has played much better than his numbers perhaps indicate. He has been excellent recently, and has given the Avalanche a chance each night even when the goals arent there.

At just 24 he has already been in the league four years, which is much quicker than many young goalies. He has already put together some impressive seasons for both Washington and Colorado in his young career.

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22. James Van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs, Age 23

Van Riemsdyk
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Being the #2 pick in the draft in 2007, Van Riemsdyk came into the league with sky high expectations, and was seen as one of the league's next great power forwards.

Blessed with great size, strength and skill, he's had a good career so far but perhaps has not gotten to the level expected of him at this point. Following a trade to Toronto, Van Riemsdyk has been excellent for the Leafs with 11 goals in his first 20 games and starting to show some of that potential.

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21. Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets, Age 21

Kane
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted 4th overall in 2009, Kane broke out for the Jets last season with a 30 goal campaign. While he has had a few off-ice issues this year, he's been good again averaging a point per game so far.

Signed to a long term contract last fall, Kane will soon be the face of the franchise if he isn't already.

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20. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens, Age 24

Pacioretty
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Pacioretty also had a breakout season last year scoring 33 goals for the Canadiens, and is leading them in scoring so far in 2013. A power forward who can skate, Pacioretty has become the Habs top forward and will be for some time, having signed a six year extension.

With young forwards like Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, the future is looking brighter in Montreal.

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19. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens, Age 23

Subban
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more polarizing figures in the league, Subban makes as much noise off the ice as he does on it. While his contract dispute may not have endeared him to his teammates or fans, he play certainly does.

A defenceman who can skate and move the puck, he also has a cannon from the point and isn't afraid to play physical. All traits desperately sought after in a franchise defenceman. At just 23 Subban may not be at that stage yet, but he's certainly well on his way.

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18. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes, Age 20

Skinner
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Skinner arrived on the scene in style, scoring 31 goals and being named an all-star at 18 years old. A pure sniper, Skinner has a nose for the net and a quick release.

At 20 years old his already in his third season and his overall game has continued to improve. Currently sidelined with a concussion, the Hurricanes are early awaiting his return to the lineup.

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17. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers, Age 19

RNH
Jason O Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The youngest player on this list, RNH possess elite vision and on-ice awareness. He's a slick passer with soft hands and is improving his overall game each night.

If not for a shoulder injury last season could very well have been the Calder Trophy winner. Off to a slow start this season but has shown signs of breaking out.

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16. Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins, Age 24

Lucic
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The prototypical power forward, Lucic is a handful for any defender. He's big, physical and nasty and loves to intimidate. He's also a good skater with good hands in close.

He's the type of forward every team in the league would love to have.

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15. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche, Age 22

Duchene
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In a league where speed is coveted, Duchene has that in spades. A high flyer who can handle the puck and make good decisions at top speed, he is tough to stop on the rush.

Had a down year last season but is off to a terrific start in 2013, he also logs big time minutes for the Avs.

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14. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks, Age 23

Couture
Cody McLeod-USA TODAY Sports

Flying under the radar somewhat playing in San Jose, and still perhaps in the shadow of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, Couture is a star in his own right. With back to back 30 goal seasons, Couture won't be playing in obsurity for long.

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13. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes, Age 21

Ekman-Larsson
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A supremely talented skater and puck-mover, Ekman-Larsson has improved in all areas of his game and has become the Coyotes top defenceman and minutes leader. His progression has allowed the Coyotes to consider moving Keith Yandle for more pieces up front.

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12. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars, Age 23

Benn
Bruce Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Signed to a new five year deal, Benn missed the first four games of the season. He hasn't missed a beat and wasted no time in becoming the team's scoring leader in 2013. A forward who continues to improve each year, he keeps getting better with every game.

He has all the tools, size, strength, hands and shot as well as great on-ice awareness. He is quickly working his way to one of the league's top forwards.

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11. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins, Age 21

Seguin
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bright young stars of the game, Seguin has gotten better with each year in the league. A pure offensive talent, he has tremendous skill and even more upside.

Had 29 goals and 67 points last season as a 19/20 year old. Got off to a sluggish start in 2013 but has been picking it up lately.

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10. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers, Age 21

Hall
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

One of the strongest, fastest skaters in the league, Hall is a terror on the rush and the forecheck. He's a high energy player that plays aggressive and at times with reckless abandon. He also has a great shot and a nose for the net.

He already has 20+ goals in each of his first two seasons, each shortened by injury. If he stays healthy he could hit the 40 goal mark.

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9. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues, Age 23

Pietrangelo
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pietrangelo has emerged as one of the league's best defencemen, with whispers that there could be a Norris Trophy in his future. High hockey IQ, good size, an excellent skater and positionally sound are all traits of his game. There are very few glaring holes, and he just keeps getting better.

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8. Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes, Age 24

Staal
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for years, Staal probably didn't get much of the credit he's deserved. Even with the diminished ice time he still managed to put up four 20+ goal seasons.

One of the best two way players in the league, he is getting his chance as a top line centre in Carolina beside brother Eric

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7. John Tavares, New York Islanders, Age 22

Tavares
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Evolving into one of the game's elite centres, Tavares is a pure sniper with a nose for the net. He's also improved his overall game and logs as many minutes as any forward in the NHL.

Unfortunately playing in New York he's been on an island most of his career, figuratively and literally, with a lack of talent around him. With a better supporting cast, his numbers could skyrocket.

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6. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers, Age 22

Eberle
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Eberle reached star status last season with the Oilers with 34 goals and 76 points. Off to a slow start this season, his numbers are deceptive. He's seen increased ice time and responsibility and has been getting plenty of chances, just without the numbers to show for it yet. He's a slick puckhandler and play-maker and seems to always be in the right position offensively.

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5. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, Age 24

Kane
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

A wizard with the puck, Kane might be the best stickhandler in the league outside of Pavel Datsyuk. He's a pure offensive talent that has great hands, vision and play-making ability. He can make plays in traffic that some players only dream of making.

He's off to a great start this season and is a main reason why the Blackhawks are the league's best team.

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4. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings, Age 23

Doughty
Jane Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Already one of the league's top defencemen at 23 years old, Doughty is the total package. He's smart, physical and mobile. He can play a shutdown role or quarterback the power play. He was terrific in last year's playoffs for the Kings en route to their Stanley Cup, although he did have a subpar regular season and has struggled at times this season.

He is still one of the top blue line talents out there and will be in Norris Trophy conversations for years to come.

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3. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, Age 22

Karlsson
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Last year's Norris Trophy winner, and if not for a season ending injury, the leader for the award this year as well. Karlsson is an elite talent and has even drawn comparisons to Bobby Orr. Arguably the best offensive defenceman in hockey, he put up an impressive 78 points last season. He is not just a one dimensional player though as he was averaging over 27 minutes a night for the Senators.

At just 22 years old it's scary to think how good he can be if he keeps improving when he returns to action.

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2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Age 22

Stamkos
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The most prolific goal scorer in hockey today. After putting up 60 goals last season, Stamkos is once again leading the league in goals so far in 2013. He has one of the best shots and quickest releases in the game, and the deadliest one-timer going. He's also a great skater and has excellent vision on the ice. His overall game is also underrated as he plays in many situations for the Lightning.

He will also be a lock for Canada's Olympic team in 2014.

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1. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, Age 24

Toews
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps not the pure offensive talent that Stamkos is, there is nothing Toews doesn't do well. One of the most complete players in hockey, he plays all three zones well. He's great offensively, averaging 30 goals a season, he's excellent defensively and is also one of the league's top faceoff men. He's also emerging as one of the league's best leaders as the captain of the Blackhawks.

He also has an impressive resume for 24, having a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy, Olympic gold medal and tournament MVP award, not to mention two World Junior gold medals.