Colton Davies The Hockey Writers
Most Valuable Players Under 21: Pacific Division
With the NHL trade deadline looming, teams always have players that are deemed untouchable based on their value or potential.
I determined which players 20-years old or younger are the most valuable currently for their organization, starting with the Pacific Division. The amount of quality players in this age group vary on every team; some of these players are still prospects, while some are stars in the league already.
Here’s the players on each team in the Pacific that are most valuable to their club right now:
Anaheim Ducks: Shea Theodore
At 20-years old, defenseman Shea Theodore doesn’t appear to be far off from a full-time NHL job. The Ducks’ 26th overall draft pick in 2013 is in his first season of major pro hockey, after graduating from the WHL, where he spent the past four years with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
With the AHL’s San Diego Gulls this season, the Aldergrove, BC native has tallied four goals and 18 points, and has impressed in a stint with the Ducks, posting two goals and six points in his first 13 NHL games. He’s a valuable puck-moving defenseman, and at 6 feet 2 inches, 195 pounds, Theodore has the size to match up against tough NHL competition. He’ll be a mainstay on the Ducks’ blue line in the near future.
Arizona Coyotes: Max Domi
Max Domi has already asserted himself as a top-six forward as a rookie with the Coyotes this season. The son of tough guy Tie Domi is third in scoring on Arizona, and fourth among NHL rookies.
Domi has found great chemistry this season with fellow 20-year-old rookie Anthony Duclair; I consider Domi the more valuable piece because he’s been in the organization’s fold since being drafted 12th overall in 2013. Duclair was a third round draft pick of the Rangers before being acquired by Arizona in the Keith Yandle deal on March 1, 2015.
Domi has shown great playmaking skills, a great ethic and an equally as impressive character in his short time in the league so far.
Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett
After a slow start to his rookie season, Sam Bennett has asserted his worth in the Flames’ lineup and is among the top rookie scorers in the league. The Flames’ fourth overall pick in 2014 has a somewhat quiet presence to his game, but his pure offensive skill makes it hard not to notice him on the ice.
The highlight of Bennett’s rookie season so far came in mid-January against the Panthers, a game where he netted four goals to become the third youngest player in league history to record a hat trick. Bennett has recently earned a place in the Flames’ top-six forward group based on his skill, which says a lot about the 19-year old in his development.
Sam Bennett with his 15th. The kid well on the way to a 20 goal rookie season. This guy is going to be a very good one #Flames
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) February 12, 2016
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
I’ll keep this relatively straight forward since we’ve heard all season about Connor McDavid (rightfully so, however).
McDavid would be the most talented player on a lot of NHL squads right now, and had it not been for a broken collar bone, he’d likely be among the top scorers in the league at this point. The 2015 first overall pick thinks the game better than anyone and has the skill to match, as we’ve seen early on from the 18-year old.
He’s a big body at 6 feet 1 inch, 196 pounds, and has the intangibles to match his skill set, which includes his admirable humbleness. There projects to be good things ahead in Edmonton for as long as McDavid is wearing an Oilers sweater.
Los Angeles Kings: Adrian Kempe
Similar to the Blackhawks, the Kings are thinner than most teams on the amount of highly valued players under 21 (seems to be a good Cup-winning formula), but 19-year-old Adrian Kempe is a good-looking prospect.
Kempe is currently playing with the Kings’ affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. While his offensive stats don’t jump off the page, the big Swede plays a solid checking forward game and his gritty style of play makes him the ideal LA King-in-the-making. Kempe has been playing against men since he was 17 when he first joined Modo Hockey in the SHL in Sweden, and has been a standout with Team Sweden at the past two World Junior tournaments.
San Jose Sharks: Timo Meier
The 19-year-old Timo Meier brings size, skill and a strong work ethic to his game to make him a very valuable player in the Sharks’ organization. The Swiss forward is in his overage year in the QMJHL, and was captaining the Halifax Mooseheads before a recent trade to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Meier also captained Team Switzerland at the recent World Juniors, his second appearance at the tournament.
Meier is physical force at 6 feet, 212 pounds, and his versatile skills could allow him to play a scoring role or checking role effectively in a forward group. Don’t be surprised if he winds up in the Sharks’ lineup sooner than later.
Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat
Bo Horvat’s instant show of maturity and willingness to learn when he broke in with Vancouver signaled that he could be a special player in the Canucks’ organization.
As a sophomore this season, while taking on incredible responsibility in the Canucks lineup, Horvat has impressed more and more as the year has gone on. While many believed he wasn’t ready to jump into a top-six role, Horvat was forced to with a slew of injuries and has quickly adapted to convincingly fill the void in recent weeks.
Horvat has certainly earned his keep in that spot, and has found chemistry with fellow youngster Sven Baertschi in the process.
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