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Kings defenseman Alec Martinez activated from injured reserve

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-2.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/9/a/9a2772734da2930579952126f70e5831fe35d6b9/USATSI_11784138.jpg’, title: ‘Age 19: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars’, description: ‘

The Dallas Stars were so high on Heiskanen\’s potential that they reportedly refused to make him available in trade talks when the team was trying to acquire Erik Karlsson over the summer. That sort of decision can put a ton of pressure on a young player to become a star, but so far Heiskanen, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, has been everything the Stars could have hoped for him to be. 

Jerome Miron, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-1.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/9/d/9d9a83465a5252d95e57f2f508e3995be3663758/USATSI_11711156.jpg’, title: ‘Age 20: Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets’, description: ‘

Forget age 20, Patrik Laine is one of the best players and goal scorers in the NHL at any age. He is going to be a yearly contender for the NHL goal-scoring crown and has already notched 100 goals for his career in less than two-and-a-half seasons. His selection was the turning point for the Winnipeg Jets to help make them a Stanley Cup contender. 

Sergei Belski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/1/1/11120343cc1e31eb2ff73eb1f95f76cca032a3a9/USATSI_11572534.jpg’, title: ‘Age 21: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers’, description: ‘

Is there really much we need to say? Connor McDavid is the most dominant offensive force in the league and a true generational talent. As long as he stays healthy, he is going to be one of the league\’s leading scorers and an MVP contender every season. Technically he is still 21 until the middle of January. 

Perry Nelson, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-2.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/8/d/8dda2dc7b735a739c4616d83fa58e38ddb9ce4c3/USATSI_11571722.jpg’, title: ‘Age 22: Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche’, description: ‘

Mikko Rantanen has rapidly emerged as a star for the Avalanche and is a key part of their top line alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Over the past two years, he has been one of the top five point producers in the NHL, and as of Dec. 10 he was leading the league in scoring. 

Sergei Belski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-2.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/b/e/beac67bfc8cabec2764bb682c601fe0e0a5a8b94/USATSI_11666959.jpg’, title: ‘Age 23: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche ‘, description: ‘

Nathan MacKinnon\’s career has followed an odd path. He was great as an 18-year-old rookie, then he saw his production kind of level off for a few years. It was good but was not superstar level. The past two years, however, he has returned to superstar level. The Avalanche are in good hands with him, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog at the top of their lineup. 

Brad Rempel, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-2.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/e/1/e1ef1cfdb7d564b653afb2e4ad99794802bb6bfb/USATSI_11716116.jpg’, title: ‘Age 24: Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets’, description: ‘

Seth Jones finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting for the 2017-18 season, and there was a pretty good argument to be made that he could have won it. If he continues on his current path, there is a good chance that he will eventually earn it during his career. He is a shutdown defender with a top-tier offensive game to match it. 

Tom Szczerbowski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-5.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/d/8/d85534d93a0c15b319afe9b5fd66cf638c521e12/USATSI_11789909.jpg’, title: ‘Age 25: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning’, description: ‘

Kucherov has become one of the NHL\’s top offensive talents and is right in the middle of what should be the prime of his career. He was a 100-point scorer a year ago and is on pace to top that mark again. He is a legitimate contender for the scoring title and the MVP award. 

Rick Osentoski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-5.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/1/e/1eaeaa351afa1375b54b62d66f57f9e1d7365869/USATSI_11599929.jpg’, title: ‘Age 26: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals ‘, description: ‘

Ever since he joined the Washington Capitals organization and made his NHL debut, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been an outstanding talent. He had his true breakout year during the 2017-18 season when he was a better than point-per-game player during the regular season and then topped all players in scoring during the playoffs to help lead the Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup. 

Sergei Belski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/7/f/7f30f2a1ce4b973b0227eacdccf723077f5bcd1b/USATSI_11649872.jpg’, title: ‘Age 27: Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils ‘, description: ‘

Hall was greatly underrated during his days with the Edmonton Oilers when he was one of the best left wingers in hockey but stuck on a miserable team. He finally got some recognition during the 2017-18 season when he single-handedly helped lead the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs with an MVP season. He is still remarkably productive this season even though he is once again on a team that seems to be going nowhere. 

James Carey Lauder, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-5.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/f/0/f03d5090c4d82725822780a8bf3f4b922ef781b0/USATSI_11765918.jpg’, title: ‘Age 28: Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks ‘, description: ‘

Karlsson\’s overall point production so far this season has not been what we are used to seeing from him, but he is still an impact player. For his career, he has been one of the most impactful defenders the NHL has ever seen, probably since the days of Bobby Orr. He is a two-time Norris Trophy winner and really should have a couple of more on his resume. 

Marc DesRosiers, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-4.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/6/0/604434d8b3cce066a6ea93e3aeebe05d1c189601/USATSI_11656226.jpg’, title: ‘Age 29: P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators ‘, description: ‘

P.K. Subban is one of the NHL\’s most electrifying players. He is a dynamic playmaker with the puck on his stick, he has an absolute rocket of a shot, and he can play a shutdown game defensively. When healthy he is the focal point and cornerstone of what is the NHL\’s best defense on one of its best teams. It is still unbelievable that the Montreal Canadiens traded him. Players like this do not come around often. 

Gary A. Vasquez, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-5.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/c/d/cd5b121bc4b62d5e28f7b6ce509b911a1a444a7d/USATSI_11785081.jpg’, title: ‘Age 30: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins ‘, description: ‘

Brad Marchand is more than just a pest who gets under the skin of opposing players and fans. He is also one of the best players in hockey. Over the past past four years, he has been a top-10 goal scorer and point producer while playing an outstanding two-way game that makes an impact in every phase. His ability is what makes some of the \”extra\” stuff (like more fines and suspensions than any other player in the league during the Department of Player Safety era) so frustrating. He is good enough to be a significant player in this league without having to resort to that level of agitation. 

Bob DeChiara, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-4.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/3/3/333ea683347de428d7997d3c3afe9da5b02fee4b/USATSI_10646769.jpg’, title: ‘Age 31: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins’, description: ‘

The resume is as complete as that of any player in the history of the league. In 14 years in the NHL, he has made four Stanley Cup Final appearances and won three Stanley Cups. He is a two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, a two-time regular-season MVP, a two-time goal-scoring champion, a two-time scoring champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist with a golden goal in there just for good measure. He is already a top-10 player in the history of the NHL. 

Charles LeClaire, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/8/1/81282f0c03367f64512e28b612f5132b68273f4a/USATSI_11645119.jpg’, title: ‘Age 32: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins ‘, description: ‘

Like his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin has been one of the best players in the NHL from the moment he arrived and has an extensive list of team and individual accomplishments filling his resume. Three Stanley Cups, an MVP award, scoring titles, a Conn Smythe Trophy. He has done it all in the NHL and is still going strong into his 30s when other players would be starting to slow down. It is still shocking that he did not make the NHL\’s top-100 all-time players list that was announced a couple of seasons ago.

Charles LeClaire, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/d/6/d665937a38c3bc604c85f2a22d62741b7d8f045b/USATSI_11800960.jpg’, title: ‘Age 33: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals ‘, description: ‘

There is a strong argument to be made that Alex Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer to ever play in the NHL. He may not match Wayne Gretzky\’s overall total for his career, but when you take into account the mostly defensive era that Ovechkin has played in and the numbers he has put up, not to mention the way he has dominated his peers in the league when it comes to scoring goals, it is hard to imagine that there has ever been anyone better than him. Now he has the Stanley Cup to go with it all. Even at age 33, he is still one of the best in the league and will probably be, at worst, in the top three at the end of the 2018-19 season. That is almost unheard of for a player at this age in the NHL. Nobody has ever scored goals like this for this long. 

Matt Kartozian, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-2.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/c/f/cf245d0ba26cea352e586ab01032eb3a70dfbc06/USATSI_10543293.jpg’, title: ‘Age 34: Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks ‘, description: ‘

When you think of the best goal scorers in the NHL, you probably don\’t automatically think of Joe Pavelski — but you probably should. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, his 234 goals are the fourth most in the entire NHL, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. They are the only four players to score at least 230 goals during that stretch. He scored 20 goals in his first 32 games this season. 

Neville E. Guard, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-5.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/b/7/b7d9ccbb7512491bcb129c98271fa0142dad1d5a/USATSI_10595656.jpg’, title: ‘Age 35: Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames’, description: ‘

Mark Giordano is one of the NHL\’s greatest undrafted success stories. He has been a rock on the Calgary Flames blue line for more than a decade now and at age 35 is putting together one of the best seasons of his career for one of the NHL\’s most surprising teams. He has received Norris Trophy votes in each of the previous five seasons, including three top-10 finishes, and he should once again be in the discussion this season based on the way he has played so far. 

Sergei Belski, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/c/a/caf36e6935962acc487c8666c7ae2ae609020d85/USATSI_10384429.jpg’, title: ‘Age 36: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers’, description: ‘

This was a tough one and came down to either New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist or Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. On one hand, Rinne has had an amazing career, is coming off a Vezina Trophy winning season and has been just as good, if not better, so far this season for one of the league\’s best teams. But Lundqvist is a slam dunk Hall of Famer who is one of the best goalies of all time. Even though it has not resulted in a Stanley Cup, his postseason numbers are as good as any goalie you can find (especially in Game 7 situations or when facing elimination). The lack of a championship has had more to do with the team around him and the circumstances of just sometimes running into a better opponent in the playoffs. Even now at age 36, behind an obviously rebuilding and subpar team, he is playing at an extremely high level. 

Danny Wild, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-3.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/e/2/e2751d997b469f1ede5b068eeea53a06f44a6591/USATSI_10754586.jpg’, title: ‘Age 37: Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes’, description: ‘

When Justin Williams retires, he will be remembered as one of the best \”clutch\” players from his era for seemingly scoring a goal (usually a big one) in every Game 7 that he ever played in. He also should be remembered for simply being an outstanding two-way player who was a key figure on three Stanley Cup winning teams (2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes, 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings, 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings). At 37 he is obviously a fraction of what he used to be, but he has been a great captain in his return to the Hurricanes and has helped make them a fun team to watch. 

James Guillory, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-4.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/6/2/6203eeef6a13cd546fc9eae9247704111da05a84/USATSI_11560217.jpg’, title: ‘Age 38: Ryan Miller, Anaheim Ducks’, description: ‘

He may be only a backup to John Gibson in Anaheim at this point in his career, but Ryan Miller is still playing at an exceptionally high level given his age. His play and that of Gibson are big reasons the Ducks are where they are in the standings at this point in the season despite being badly outshot every night and giving up way too many chances. Over his career Miller consistently has been an above-average to very good NHL goalie. 

Kirby Lee, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-4.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/6/9/698625bc3cb018920c1ca2d2aefd41be9ce8e996/USATSI_10520454.jpg’, title: ‘Age 39: Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks ‘, description: ‘

Joe Thornton was never fully appreciated during his prime years in the NHL, and it is disappointing because he was truly one of the best players of his era and is still one of the best players of all time. He may be a shell of his former self, but he can still make some incredible passing plays and control the pace of the game when he is on the ice. 

Stan Szeto, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-1.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/2/4/24d3940a099fad96c68aad262fc81b6258b5e729/USATSI_10611405.jpg’, title: ‘Age 41: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins ‘, description: ‘

What an amazing career it has been for one of the most physically imposing defenders to ever play in the NHL. Among the most feared defensive players during his era, Chara also mixed in a booming slap shot and offensive game that made him one of the most complete players in the league. His play has obviously declined over the past few years, but he can still be an effective 20-plus-minute-per-night player in the NHL. That is no small accomplishment. 

Winslow Townson, USATI

‘ } , { src: ‘https://res-4.cloudinary.com/ybmedia/image/upload/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_1000/v1/m/9/b/9b936434ec41a26ce89ebf776571e72f7a2a885a/USATSI_11323868.jpg’, title: ‘Age 42: Matt Cullen, Pittsburgh Penguins’, description: ‘

Matt Cullen has been one of those players who has been very good for a very long time — never great, but consistently good enough to keep getting important roles on good teams. In more than 1,500 NHL games (regular season and playoffs combined) he has scored 280 goals (again regular season and playoffs combined) and has been part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams, including a back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion in Pittsburgh. There are not many players in the NHL who have that sort of resume during their careers. 

Charles LeClaire, USATI

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The best NHL player at every age

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