In Edmonton, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made a dazzling debut with a late-game tying goal for the Oilers against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday evening. A couple of hours earlier, Mark Scheifele struggled in his first game with the Winnipeg Jets after a solid training camp. But big things are expected from the 6-foot-3, 175-pound forward.
"There are lots of things to like about his game," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said when asked about his teenager teammate. "His offensive game speaks for itself. He has such a quick release with his shot. It's already a top NHL level.
"His offence is one thing that really stands out with me. Other than that you can see how smart a player he is with his play around the puck. He always seems to be in the right spot. He also finds the right holes to be in. He has something that you can't really teach."
Scheifele doesn't turn 19 until this coming March 15. There is no guarantee that he will remain with the Jets after the nine-game mark (10 games means a year of his three-year entry level deal would click in), but if he plays well it will be difficult for Winnipeg management to return him to the Barrie Colts and his mentor in junior, Dale Hawerchuk.
"I know it's day-to-day and it's up to me to stay here," Scheifele said after the Jets 5-1 season-opening loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Winnipeg last Sunday.
Scheifele is not alone in his predicament. He and Nugent-Hopkins are two of 21 teenagers who started the season in the NHL, including three of who have yet to play in a game (Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Ryan Murphy, and Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome of the New York Islanders.
Of course, some like Oilers speedy forward Taylor Hall, Anaheim Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler and last season's rookie-of-year, Jeff Skinner of the Hurricanes, are a lock to stay in the NHL this season.
Here is a list of the teenage content in the NHL right now and some background:
Back to accessibility links
- Brett Bulmer, 19, LW, Minnesota Wild (Hometown: Prince George, B.C.) - After his third junior season in Kelowna, he played eight games in the Houston Aeros' run to the Calder Cup final.
- Alexander Burmistrov, 18, C, Winnipeg Jets (Hometown: Kazan, Russia) - When he made the Atlanta Thrashers last year, his new Winnipeg teammate Scheifele replaced him as the Barrie Colts top centre.
- Brent Connolly, 19, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning (Hometown: Prince George, B.C.) - In his rookie WHL season, he became the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals since Patrick Marleau in 1995-96.
- Sean Couturier, 18, C, Philadelphia Flyers (Hometown: Bathurst, N.B.) - Represented Canada at the world juniors last year. His father Sylvain played 33 games for the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- Justin Faulk, 19, D, Carolina Hurricanes (Hometown: St. Paul, MN.) - He played last season for the NCAA-champion University of Minnesota-Duluth.
- Cam Fowler, 19, D, Anaheim Ducks (Hometown: Farmington Hills, Mich.) - He enjoyed an impressive 10-goal, 40-point rookie season in Anaheim, and was named to the NHL's all-rookie team.
- Erik Gudbranson, 19, D, Florida Panthers (Hometown: Orleans, Ont.) - His younger brother Alex is in his second season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL and his youngest brother Dennis beat leukemia.
- Taylor Hall, 19, LW, Edmonton Oilers (Hometown: Calgary, Alta.) - He scored 22 goals in his first 65 NHL games before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury last season.
- Ryan Johansen, 19, C, Columbus Blue Jackets (Hometown: Vancouver) - He and his two linemates with the Portland Winter Hawks, Nino Niederreiter and Brad Ross, were among the first 43 picks in the 2010.
- Gabriel Landeskog, 18, LW, Colorado Avalanche (Hometown: Stockholm) - When he was a teammate with the Kitchener Rangers, he was housed at the same billet family as Jeff Skinner.
- Adam Larsson, 18, D, New Jersey Devils (Hometown: Skelleftea, Sweden) - His father Robert was a sixth-round (112th overall) selection of the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, but opted to remain at home and play with Skelleftea.
- Ryan Murphy, 18, D, Carolina Hurricanes (Hometown: Aurora, Ont.) - He checked in with 79 points in 63 games for the Kitchener Rangers last season, second among OHL defenceman behind Ryan Ellis.
- Nino Niederreiter, 19, RW, New York Islanders (Hometown: Chur, Switzerland) - He played nine games for the Islanders last season before he was returned to junior.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 18, C, Edmonton Oilers (Hometown: Burnaby, B.C.) - He was developed in the same minor system that developed Joe Sakic.
- Brandon Saad, 18, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (Hometown: Pittsburgh) - After he spent some time with the U.S. National development team, he joined the Saginaw Spirit last season.
- Mark Scheifele, 18, C, Winnipeg Jets (Hometown: Kitchener, Ont.) - He got off to a slow start with the Barrie Colts last season, but finished brilliantly and then played well for Canada at the under-18 world championship.
- Tyler Seguin, 19, C, Boston Bruins (Hometown: Brampton, Ont.) - He was a healthy scratch for the first two rounds of the Bruins Stanley Cup-run last spring until an injury to Patrice Bergeron in the East final opened up a spot for the rest of the post-season.
- Jeff Skinner, 19, LW, Carolina Hurricanes (Hometown: Markham, Ont.) - The Calder Trophy winner has a 21-year-old brother, Ben, who studies and plays for Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.
- Devante Smith-Pelly, 19, LW, Anaheim Ducks (Hometown: Scarborough, Ont.) - He enjoyed a strong playoff run to the Memorial Cup with 18 goals and 27 points with the St. Michael's Majors.
- Ryan Strome, 18, C, New York Islanders (Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.) - He finished third in OHL scoring with 33 goals and 106 points for the Niagara IceDogs last season.
- Mika Zibanejad, 18, C, Ottawa Senators (Hometown: Stockholm) - At age 17, he became a regular for Djurgården in the Swedish Elitserien last season. He scored five goals in 26 games.