The National Hockey League has seen a lot of changes over the years, and one of the biggest current ones is the impact that young players can have on the league. Young stars enter the NHL more ready than ever to start dominating the favourites, beating the odds, and establishing themselves as top-shelf athletes. Many of these young players are Canadian.
The next generation of Canadian superstars appears to be in good hands. Several elite talents are just entering the league or have already established themselves. Let’s look at five young Canadians who appear to have the brightest futures as NHL stars.
Connor Bedard has entered the NHL to more fanfare than anyone in recent years save Connor McDavid. The first-overall pick is the presumptive favourite on sports betting sites for the Calder Trophy, and many expect him to be a point-per-game player for the Chicago Blackhawks in his first season. No pressure, right? But Bedard is more than capable of exceeding expectations. He is incredibly dynamic, has a world-class shot, and sees the game at an incredibly advanced level. He set records in the WHL, and having just turned 18, he is expected to be one of the league’s faces for decades.
While not many are willing to wager against Bedard for the Calder Trophy, Fantilli is another player who has an excellent chance of snagging the award. Fantilli was taken third overall in 2023 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he has all the tools to find instant NHL success. Fantilli has a big frame, incredible skill, and was dominant as a freshman at the University of Michigan, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey. He has a rare maturity and competitiveness and should find plenty of minutes on the top line in Columbus alongside players like Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau.
Owen Power is another player who was selected very high in the draft. The Buffalo Sabres took the 6’6″ Power with the first overall pick in 2021, and he will pair with Rasmus Dahlin to give the Sabres an elite defensive tandem for the next decade. Power had a solid rookie season with 35 points in 79 games, but there is a next level the hulking defenseman can take it to. Defence normally takes a little longer to develop, so expect the next few years of Power’s career to result in massive breakthroughs. On a young, rising Sabres team, he could become a superstar.
Shane Wright was widely presumed to be the first overall pick in 2022 but slipped to the Kraken at the fourth spot. While he only saw eight games of NHL action and scored two points, there is still plenty of hype around this Canadian center. Wright has all the tools to be a world-class player for the Kraken, and he is a responsible, well-rounded player who could end up being a point-per-game player in the league. The Kraken will almost certainly find a major role for Wright this year, and he is still just 19. He is a sneaky bet with great odds for a Calder win.
Mason McTavish is a Canadian centre who appears to be one of the leaders of the future for the Anaheim Ducks. He had a rookie season that lived up to the considerable hype around the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft. Last year, he had 43 points in 80 games as a 20-year-old, and those numbers will only improve with age. He is joined by young up-and-comers Trevor Zegras and Leo Carlsson, and the Ducks could very quickly develop into a dynamic team in the Western Conference. McTavish is also a great leader.