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Hockey Day

Best U.S.-born players 25 and under

NHL.com selects dream team to help celebrate Hockey Weekend Across America

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

The NHL, USA Hockey and NBC will celebrate the 11th annual Hockey Weekend Across America on March 2-4.

In advance of the celebration of the sport in the United States, NHL.com put together a team of the best American players age 25 years and younger, including six forwards, four defensemen and one goalie.
 

 

Forwards

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Age: 20; Drafted: No. 1, 2016

Matthews, who is from Scottsdale, Arizona, already belongs in the class of elite centers in the NHL. He is third in the League since the start of last season with 67 goals, including 27 in 51 games this season. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie last season, when he scored 40 goals, the most in NHL history by a U.S.-born rookie, and had 69 points in 82 games. He was one of three 40-goal scorers last season along with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov. He's on pace for 38 goals this season, but has missed 10 games because of injury.

Video: TOR@DET: Matthews roofs go-ahead goal in final minute

 

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Age: 24; Drafted: 4th round (No. 104), 2011

Gaudreau, who is from Carneys Point Township, New Jersey, is third among U.S.-born players and 11th overall with 272 points (91 goals, 181 assists) since his rookie season of 2014-15. Gaudreau is tied for third in the League this season with 69 points (19 goals, 50 assists). He won the Lady Byng Trophy for the 2016-17 season. Before arriving in the NHL, Gaudreau helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship and he won the Hobey Baker Award in 2014 after scoring 80 points in 40 games for Boston College.

 

Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
Age: 21; Drafted: No. 23, 2015

Boeser, who is from Burnsville, Minnesota, is a Calder Trophy candidate this season. He is first among rookies with 27 goals and second with 49 points in 55 games. He is known for his shot, which he put on display at 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa last month. Boeser was named MVP of the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 28, one day after winning the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting event at the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition. He was the NHL's Rookie of the Month in November and December. Boeser scored 34 points in 32 games as a sophomore at the University of North Dakota last season. 

 

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Age: 21; Drafted: No. 2, 2015

Eichel, a Boston native, is seventh among U.S.-born skaters in points per game (0.84) since the 2015-16 season. He has 166 points (70 goals, 96 assists) in 197 games. The Sabres haven't risen to the next level with Eichel, but it's hardly his fault. He missed the first 21 games last season with an ankle injury, but led the Sabres with 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 61 games. He leads the Sabres with 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 55 games this season despite missing the past five games with an ankle injury that could keep him out the remainder of the season.

 

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Age: 21; Drafted: No. 15, 2014

Larkin, who is from Waterford, Michigan, is second on the Red Wings in goals (49) and points (120) since his rookies season of 2015-16. He leads Detroit with 43 points (nine goals, 34 assists) in 58 games this season. It's already an 11-point improvement from last season, when he slumped to 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 80 games. Larkin had 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 80 games as a rookie. Larkin is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. 

 

Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers
Age: 24; Drafted: 3rd round (No. 64), 2011

Trocheck, from Pittsburgh, has three consecutive 20-goal seasons and a chance to reach 30 this season. He has 22 goals in 56 games, putting him on pace for 32. He leads the Panthers in games played (214) and goals (70) since the start of the 2015-16 season. He is also second in points with 160, five behind center Aleksander Barkov. Trocheck had 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) in 76 games in the 2015-16 season and 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games last season. He won gold with Gaudreau at the 2013 World Juniors.

Video: FLA@CGY: Trocheck, Barkov bury a pretty give-and-go

 

Defensemen

Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Age: 23; Drafted: No. 4, 2013

Jones, who is in his fifth season and grew up in Denver, has elevated his game since arriving in Columbus in a trade from the Nashville Predators on Jan. 6, 2016. He has 36 points (eight goals, 28 assists) in 59 games this season, giving him 98 points (22 goals, 76 assists) in 175 games with the Blue Jackets. He had 63 points (15 goals, 48 assists) in 199 games with the Predators. He's known as a dominant, minute-munching (24:58 per game this season), two-way defenseman who benefits from his long reach (he's 6-foot-4) and his skating ability, which allows him to quickly transition from defense to offense. He also benefits from starting more than 57 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone. 

 

Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Age: 20; Drafted: No. 8, 2015

Werenski, who is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is Jones' defense partner. He has 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 55 games this season. He finished third in the Calder Trophy vote last season, when he led all rookie defensemen with 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) in 78 games. Werenski, who replaced Jones as the Blue Jackets representative at All-Star Weekend last month, is averaging 23:28 of ice time this season, up from 20:54 last season. The difference is he's playing nearly two and a half more minutes per game at even strength.

 

Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 24; Drafted: 3rd round (No. 78), 2012

Gostisbehere, who is from Pembroke Pines, Florida, is 11th in scoring among all defensemen since the start of the 2015-16 season with 130 points (34 goals, 96 assists) in 195 games. He is also eighth in points per game (0.67) and second in power play points (69). Gostisbehere is fifth in scoring for the Flyers since his rookie season, topped by forwards Claude Giroux (194), Jakub Voracek (181), Wayne Simmonds (151) and Sean Couturier (132). Gostisbehere also helped Union College win the NCAA national championship in 2014, and was named the most outstanding player in the Frozen Four.

Video: PHI@NJD: Gostisbehere rings home slick one-timer

 

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
Age: 20; Drafted: No. 14, 2016

McAvoy has 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) and is averaging 22:30 of ice time per game playing on the Bruins' top defense pair with captain Zdeno Chara. He's second on the team (Chara is first at 23:32) and first among rookies in ice time per game. He should be included in the discussion for the Calder Trophy candidate. McAvoy got to the Bruins in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season after scoring 26 points in 38 games with Boston University. He played in all six of the Bruins' playoff games and had three points, all assists, nine blocks and six takeaways while averaging 26:12 per game. He also helped the U.S. win gold at the 2017 World Juniors. 

 

Goaltender 

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Age: 24; Drafted: 2nd round (No. 39), 2011

Gibson, who is from Pittsburgh, has won at least 21 games in three straight seasons. He is 22-15-6 in 46 starts. He has a career 2.30 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and 13 shutouts. Gibson helped the Ducks reach the Western Conference Final last season, where they they lost in six games against the Nashville Predators. He had nine wins, a .918 save percentage and 2.59 GAA in the playoffs

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