Best Young NHL Stars Under 25 in 2021/22
Best Young NHL Stars Under 25 in 2021/22

What is NHL?

The National Hockey League (NHL; French: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams—25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America,is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and foldings left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926.

At its inception, the NHL had four teams—all in Canada, thus the adjective "National" in the league's name. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, when the Boston Bruins joined, and has since consisted of American and Canadian teams. From 1942 to 1967, the league had only six teams, collectively (if not contemporaneously) nicknamed the "Original Six". The NHL added six new teams to double its size at the 1967 NHL expansion. The league then increased to 18 teams by 1974 and 21 teams in 1979. Between 1991 and 2000, the NHL further expanded to 30 teams. It added its 31st and 32nd teams in 2017 and 2021, respectively.

Last season, a then-23-year-old Auston Matthews won the Rocket Richard Trophy with a league-best 41 goals. Connor McDavid, at just 24, became the ninth player in NHL history (joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr) to hit 100 points in 53 games; he finished with 105. And a 23-year-old Adam Fox, in just his second NHL season, was named the league's best blueliner.

Here are Sporting News's list of top 20 NHL stars under 25 in the NHL in the 2021-22 season.

The List of top 20 best young NHL stars under 25 in 2021/2022

20. Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets

19. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators

18. Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes

17. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks

16. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

15. Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning

14. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks

13. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens

12. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

11. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

10. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

9. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins

8. Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs

7. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

6. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche

5. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

4. Adam Fox, New York Rangers

3. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

***

Who are the best young NHL stars under 25 in 2021/2022?

20. Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets - December 9, 1996 (age 24)

 Global News
Global News

Kyle David Connor (born December 9, 1996) is an American professional ice hockey player for the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League (NHL). Connor was drafted 17th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Connor played minor ice hockey for Detroit Belle Tire and participated in the 2009 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with them.

Connor represented the United States at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, where he recorded two goals and three assists in four games and won a gold medal. Connor scored the game-winning goal in the championship game against Russia. Connor again represented the United States at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge where he recorded one goal and one assist in four games, and won a gold medal.

Connor represented the United States at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships, where he recorded four goals and three assists in seven games, and won a gold medal.

Connor represented the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Championship alongside line-mates J. T. Compher and Tyler Motte. He recorded two assists in five games.

19. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators - September 16, 1999 (age 22)

Photo: Bleacher Report
Photo: Bleacher Report

Braeden "Brady" Tkachuk (born September 16, 1999) is an American professional ice hockey left winger for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL). Tkachuk was chosen by the Senators as the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to turning professional, Tkachuk played one season for the Boston University Terriers, earning All-Hockey East Rookie Team honors.

Internationally, Tkachuk has represented Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World U18 Championships and 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

Tkachuk was the captain of the gold-winning U.S. under-18 national team at the 2017 IIHF World U18 Championships.

Tkachuk was selected to the U.S. under-20 national team for the 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Buffalo, New York, winning bronze.

18. Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes - 26 March 2000 (age 21)

 NHL.com
NHL.com

Andrei Igorevich Svechnikov (born 26 March 2000) is a Russian professional ice hockey winger for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Hurricanes selected him second overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Svechnikov began his junior career in North America with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He signed a tender with the Lumberjacks in May 2016, due in part to proximity to his brother's American Hockey League (AHL) team in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the 2016–17 season, he led the team in scoring and finished sixth overall in the league. Svechnikov was named to the All-USHL Team and declared USHL Rookie of the Year.

On 29 October 2019, Svechnikov become the first NHL player to score a “Michigan” goal, doing so against David Rittich in a 2–1 win over the Calgary Flames. He scored a similar goal on 17 December against the Winnipeg Jets. He greatly improved on his previous season's totals, scoring 24 goals and 37 assists for 61 points. The Hurricanes matched up with the Rangers in the 2020 Qualifying Round. In Game 2 of the series, Svechnikov scored a hat-trick during a 4–1 win. The feat was the first in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise postseason history.

On 26 August 2021, Svechnikov agreed to a eight-year, $62 million contract with the Hurricanes.

17. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks - February 25, 1997 (age 24)

Photo: Nucks Misconduct
Photo: Nucks Misconduct

Brock Michael Boeser ( born February 25, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey player for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He played college hockey for the University of North Dakota.

A top prospect with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL), Boeser was selected 23rd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Canucks and spent the following two seasons with the University of North Dakota. He made his NHL debut in 2017 with Vancouver. Internationally, Boeser has played for the United States national junior team at the 2016 World Junior Championships, where he helped the team win a bronze medal.

Boeser has played with the United States national junior team, first at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and later with the U.S. Junior Select Team at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.

His first International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)-sanctioned tournament was the 2016 World Junior Championships, where he had three points in seven games as the United States won the bronze medal. He missed the 2017 World Junior Championships due to a wrist injury.

16. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks - December 18, 1997 (age 23)

Alexander DeBrincat (born December 18, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey right winger and alternate captain for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Nicknamed "the Cat", he was selected by the Blackhawks with the 39th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

DeBrincat was named to Team USA in the 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Helsinki, Finland. He was injured in a game against Sweden but recovered quick enough to net a vital goal against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. He ended the tournament with 1 goal in 5 games to help Team USA clinch Bronze.

After the conclusion of his rookie season with the Blackhawks, DeBrincat was named to the Team USA roster to compete at the 2018 IIHF World Championship. He contributed with 9 point in 10 games to help the United States claim the bronze medal in Denmark.

DeBrincat returned to the World Championship the following year, as he was named to Team USA roster to compete at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, held in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

15. Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning - 25 June 1998 (age 23)

Photo: NHL
Photo: NHL

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sergachev (born 25 June 1998) is a Russian professional ice hockey defenceman currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected ninth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Sergachev won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Lightning in 2020 and 2021.

After attending his first Canadiens' training camp, Sergachev impressively made the opening night roster for the 2016–17 season. He made his NHL debut with Montreal in a 4–1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on 13 October 2016. He appeared in four games with the Canadiens before he was returned to continue his development with junior club, the Windsor Spitfires, on 31 October 2016.

On 13 January 2018, the NHL Department of Player Safety fined Sergachev $2,403.67 for cross-checking Johan Larsson during the game against the Buffalo Sabres the night before at KeyBank Center. On 26 August 2020, Sergachev recorded a goal and 2 assists to help the Lightning to a 7–1 Lightning victory over the Boston Bruins in game 3 of their second round series. Sergachev joined Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman as the only Lightning defensemen to record three points in a single playoff game.

On 25 November 2020, Sergachev signed a three-year, $14.4 million contract with the Lightning.

14. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks - October 14, 1999 (age 21)

Quintin "Quinn" Hughes (born October 14, 1999) is an American professional ice hockey defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Hughes was drafted 7th overall by the Canucks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to the draft, he was considered a top prospect player.

Hughes has represented the United States internationally. He stated that choosing to play for the United States was an easy choice because it was important for him to represent his country.

Described as a smooth-skating and mobile player, Hughes says he models his game after NHL defencemen Duncan Keith and Kris Letang. After being drafted by the Canucks, general manager Jim Benning cited his dynamic skating and ability to quickly transition the puck as reasons for drafting him, seeing it as ideal for the team. Andrew Berkshire of Sportsnet described Hughes as one of the best young defensemen in the NHL.

13. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens - August 10, 1999 (age 22)

 Photo: Sports Illustrated
Photo: Sports Illustrated

Nicholas Suzuki (born August 10, 1999) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre for the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

By the time of the 2020–21 season, Suzuki had established himself as one of the Canadiens' most important players, registering 41 points in each of his first two regular seasons, the latter in only 56 games. He had even better results in the playoffs, and during the Canadiens' deep run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final he registered 7 goals and 9 assists. In the final games of the regular season and the playoffs he was paired on a line with newcomer Cole Caufield, and the two were widely praised for their linemate chemistry and offensive results. With the departure of Phillip Danault in the off-season to the Los Angeles Kings, Suzuki was dubbed "the clear-cut top pivot of the team" going forward.

12. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames - December 11, 1997 (age 23)

Matthew Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk

Matthew Tkachuk (born December 11, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey winger and alternate captain for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL). Tkachuk was selected sixth overall at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Flames.

Tkachuk helped the United States win gold at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge held in Nova Scotia. He also competed at the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championships, where in seven games he registered ten assists (tops in the tournament), leading the U.S. under-18 team to a gold medal win.

At the 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, held in Helsinki, Tkachuk and Auston Matthews each scored 11 points to lead the American team in scoring. After losing in the semi-finals, the U.S. defeated Sweden to claim the bronze medal.

11. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars - 18 July 1999 (age 22)

 Photo: NHL.com
Photo: NHL.com

Miro Heiskanen (born 18 July 1999) is a Finnish professional ice hockey defenceman for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL). Ranked in the top ten eligible European skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, Heiskanen was picked third overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Stars.

On 30 August 2020, in Game 4 of the Stars' second round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, Heiskanen would set the Stars' playoff record for points by a defenceman with 16. In reaching the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals, Heiskanen ended the playoff campaign with 26 points in 27 games, the fourth most by any defenceman during a playoff year in league history, behind only Paul Coffey in 1985, Brian Leetch in 1994 and Al MacInnis in 1989. The Stars would ultimately lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

On 17 July 2021, Heiskanen signed an eight-year, $67.6 million contract with the Stars.

10. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders - May 26, 1997 (age 24)

 Photo: Eyes On Isles
Photo: Eyes On Isles

Mathew Barzal (born May 26, 1997) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). Barzal was selected by the Islanders in the first round, 16th overall, of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 2017–18, the fifth Islander to win the award.

Barzal helped Canada capture the bronze medal at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships and won gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Barzal was again named to the Canada roster the following year to compete at the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championship, where he again won bronze.

Barzal was selected as an alternate captain for Canada at the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He helped guide Canada to a silver medal and was one of the top ten scorers in the tournament.

On April 12, 2018, Barzal was named to Canada's senior team to compete at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.

9. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins - December 21, 1997 (age 23)

 SI Kids
SI Kids

Charles Patrick McAvoy Jr. (born December 21, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey defenseman for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected 14th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins.

McAvoy has won a gold medal at every junior level. He won at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge (January), 2015 IIHF World U18 Championships and 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. McAvoy led all defenseman in scoring at the 2018 IIHF World Championship, with 9 points despite only playing 6 games because the Boston Bruins were still in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. He won the bronze medal at the tournament.

8. Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs - May 5, 1997 (age 24)

 Photo: Editor In Leaf
Photo: Editor In Leaf

Mitchell Marner (born May 5, 1997) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger and alternate captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Marner was born in Markham, Ontario, and grew up in Thornhill. He was selected fourth overall by the Maple Leafs in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Marner made his international debut for Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he won a gold medal. He tied Mathew Barzal for the leading scorer from Canada at the tournament.

At the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Marner and Dylan Strome each scored four goals and two assists in five games to lead Canada in scoring. Canada reached the quarterfinals but was eliminated by hosts Finland. Marner scored twice in the game, both times to bring Canada back to an even score, but it was not enough to overcome the eventual gold medalists.

Marner made his Canada senior team debut at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, where team Canada won silver. Scoring 12 points in 10 games, Marner was placed in the top ten in scoring and was only second to Nathan MacKinnon in team scoring.

7. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes - 26 July 1997 (age 24)

Photo:  NHL.com
Photo: NHL.com

Sebastian Antero Aho (born 26 July 1997) is a Finnish professional ice hockey player and currently plays for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL). Aho formerly played with Oulun Kärpät in the Finnish Liiga. Aho made his professional debut with Oulun Kärpät during the 2013–14 season. Drafted 35th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he made his NHL debut during the 2016–17 season with the Hurricanes.

Aho made his Liiga debut playing with Oulun Kärpät during the 2013–14 season.

On 1 July 2019, Aho signed an offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first player to sign an offer sheet since Ryan O'Reilly in 2013. The contract included a lucrative bonus structure, including $21.7 million within the first 12 months of the contract. On 7 July 2019, the Hurricanes officially matched the offer sheet, re-signing Aho to a five-year, $42.27 million contract.

6. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche - born 29 October 1996 (age 24)

 Sporting News
Sporting News

Mikko Rantanen (born 29 October 1996) is a Finnish professional ice hockey forward for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected in the first round, 10th overall, by the Avalanche in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Rantanen was introduced and developed as a youth in the Finnish national junior under-16 program. He was first selected at an international tournament at the 2013 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, scoring seven points in five contests. He went on to lead the team at the under-18 level with seven points in four games at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament before competing in his first full IIHF competition at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships.

Rantanen continued his progression within the Finnish junior team in earning selection to the 2015 World Junior Championships in Toronto. Despite a disappointing seventh-place finish, Rantanen contributed with four goals in five games to earn a top-three player on team selection.

During his first North American professional season and while eligible for his final junior tournament, Rantanen was loaned by the Colorado Avalanche to Captain the Finnish junior team as they hosted the 2016 World Junior Championships. While adding a stabilising veteran presence, Rantanen played a supporting role throughout the round-robin stage before stepping up his production in the Semi-final against Sweden and scoring in the Final against Russia to help Finland claim the gold medal and cap his junior career.

5. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche - October 30, 1998 (age 22)

 Photo: Mile High Hockey
Photo: Mile High Hockey

Cale Douglas Makar (born October 30, 1998) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected in the first round, fourth overall, by the Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Makar won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 2019–20, becoming the sixth Avalanche/Nordiques player to win the award.

Makar was first selected by Hockey Canada to compete for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in 2015 and 2016. He was selected to the Tournament All-Star Team in both years and helped Canada West to a gold medal in 2015. Unable to defend the gold medal, Makar followed up by setting a tournament single-game record for points by a defenceman in 2016. Makar appeared for Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. He had one goal and one assist during the exhibition. His single goal came at a pivotal time on August 4, 2017, against Sweden, tying the game 4–4 in the third period. The marker re-energized the Canadians as they registered three more goals to pull off a 7–4 win.

Makar was selected to Canada's under-20 team for the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, winning gold. Makar finished the tournament leading all defenceman with three goals and eight points in seven games, and was the only Canadian named to the All-Tournament Team.

Following the World Juniors, Makar reportedly turned down an invite to join the Canadian senior team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in order to focus on his season at UMass, as he would have had to miss three weeks for the tournament.

4. Adam Fox, New York Rangers - February 17, 1998 (age 23)

Photo:  Blueshirt Banter
Photo: Blueshirt Banter

Adam Fox (born February 17, 1998) is an American professional ice hockey defenseman for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL).

He played two seasons in the U.S. National Team Development Program, and finished with the record for the most assists in a single season (in 2015–16) and the most assists in a career (in 2014–16).

He was named the 2016 IIHF World U18 Championships Best Defenseman. Fox was selected by the Calgary Flames, 66th overall, in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, but opted to go to college. He played collegiate ice hockey for Harvard University, leading all NCAA defensemen in the nation in assists and points in his freshman season, and leading all defensemen in the country in points per game and assists in his junior season.

In June 2018, Calgary traded Fox's NHL rights to the Carolina Hurricanes, who traded them to the New York Rangers in April 2019. He left college a year early, and made his NHL debut for the Rangers in 2019. In his rookie season, he tied for second among all NHL rookie defensemen in goals, and was third in assists and points.

In 2021, Fox won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, joining Bobby Orr as the only two players in NHL history to win the award before their third NHL season.

3. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks - 12 November 1998 (age 22)

 Photo: NHL.com
Photo: NHL.com

Elias Fredrik Pettersson (born 12 November 1998) is a Swedish professional ice hockey player for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Pettersson was selected fifth overall by the Canucks in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Nicknamed "Petey" by Canucks fans, he was born in Sundsvall, Sweden, but grew up in Ånge, Sweden. After one of the greatest U20 seasons in SHL history in 2017–18 and winning the Le Mat Trophy with the Växjö Lakers, Pettersson made the Canucks opening night roster for the 2018–19 season. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie in 2019, becoming the second Canuck to do so after Pavel Bure in 1992.

Pettersson competed for Sweden in the 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, winning silver. Despite being limited to just 5 games, due to a broken thumb, Pettersson would go on to win a gold medal with Team Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.

On 9 May 2019, Pettersson was included to the roster to return for a second successive tournament with Sweden at the 2019 World Championships held in Bratislava, Slovakia.

2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs – September 17, 1997 (age 24)

 Photo: CBC.ca
Photo: CBC.ca

Auston Taylour Matthews (born September 17, 1997) is an American professional ice hockey center and alternate captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Born in San Ramon, California, Matthews and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was an infant. After playing baseball and hockey during his childhood, he developed a particular interest in hockey after watching the local Arizona Coyotes play. A product of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League (USHL), Matthews played for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League prior to being drafted into the NHL in 2016, winning a Swiss Cup title that same year. Matthews was widely considered the top prospect of the draft, and was selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Matthews became the first player in modern NHL history to score four goals in his NHL debut. He scored 40 goals in his first season in 2016–17, setting the Maple Leafs rookie record and becoming just the second rookie since the 2004–05 lockout to reach the milestone (along with Alexander Ovechkin); he is just the fourth teenager in league history to accomplish the feat. His performance won him the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie for the season. In 2020–21, Matthews won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer with 41 goals in 52 games.

Internationally, Matthews has represented the United States in numerous tournaments including a U17 WHC gold medal, two U18 WJC gold medals and two IIHF World U20 Championship appearances.

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers - January 13, 1997 (age 24)

Photo: Global News
Photo: Global News

Connor Andrew McDavid (born January 13, 1997) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre and captain of the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He is considered to be the best player in the world by many colleagues and members of the news media.

Having been selected first overall by the Oilers in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy three times as the leading scorer in the league, the Hart Memorial Trophy, given to the player judged most valuable to his team, in 2017 and 2021, and the Ted Lindsay Award three times as the best player voted by other NHL players. Additionally, McDavid is one of only two unanimous Hart Trophy winners in league history, joining Wayne Gretzky.

McDavid grew up in the Toronto area and played hockey there, and was granted "Exceptional Player" status by Hockey Canada, which allowed him to play major junior one year early. He thus joined the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and spent three years with the Otters before the Oilers selected him first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Internationally McDavid played for the Canadian national junior team at one World U18 Championship, two World Junior Championships, and for the senior team at one World Championship, winning one gold at every level.

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