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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our rankings for the top-5 centers in the NHL who are 22 or younger.
1. Connor McDavid
He led the league in points, 5v5 points, and posted a plus-20 5v5 goal differential on an otherwise bad team. He is already the best player in the league.
2. Auston Matthews
He has averaged 42 goals per 82 games through two seasons and is already dominant at 5v5.
3. Nathan MacKinnon
He has always been a dynamic player with the puck but the results didn't match the skillset. Last season that changed. He scored 37 goals, added 58 assists, and was *the* driving force behind Colorado's surprise season.
4. Aleksander Barkov
Barkov is tasked with slowing down the opposition's top players on a nightly basis and he has managed to be extremely productive while doing so. He's one of the top two-way players in the game.
5. Mathew Barzal
As much as I like Jack Eichel, I have to go with Barzal here. At 5v5 he posted a +6.81 Relative CF%, +10.73 Relative Goals For%, and finished 4th in points per 60 minutes played. Only McDavid, Matthews, and MacKinnon averaged more.
Honorable mention: Jack Eichel. He is already very good and I expect his game to go up a notch now that he finally has some quality wingers to work with.
1. Connor McDavid - he outscored the entire NHL by almost 20 even-strength points last year and the fact that he didn't win the Hart Trophy single-handedly ruined the Hart's cache as the most important NHL trophy. He did win the Ted Lindsay award, so at least the players know whats going on.
2. Auston Matthews - by Corsica's WAR/60 he was the third best player in the NHL, second only to Ovechkin and McDavid. He is 11th in the NHL in 5v5 goals over the last three years, even though he's only played two. This is the best under 22, but it could also be a best players list.
3. Nathan Mackinnon - There's a big gap between the top two and everyone else, but Mackinnon is a great player, and easily the third best C in the NHL under 22.
4. Jack Eichel - the stats say I should probably go with Barzal, but Barzal was hidden behind Tavares while Eichel had nowhere to hide. He's only getting better and a Sabres team that isn't garbage will go a long way in helping him match his stats to his talent.
5. Mathew Barzal. He's good, and the stats are great, but he'll have to perform now that he's the top option on his team. He's crazy good though, it's a shame the Islanders fired Garth Snow and lost Tavares, because that would have been a sick combo for years to come.
Top-5 goaltenders in the Western Conference?
Top-5 goaltenders in the Eastern Conference?
Top-5 defenders in the Western Conference?
Top-5 defenders in the Eastern Conference?
Top-5 wingers in the Western Conference?
Top-5 wingers in the Eastern Conference?
Top-5 centers in the Western Conference?
Top-5 centers in the Eastern Conference?