The Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup win last spring did little to deter the fairly common belief that Sidney Crosby remains the NHL's top player. Connor McDavid's Hart Trophy win, however, was an emphatic announcement from the next generation of NHL stars that they've not just arrived -- they're ready to take over.
Throw in the incredible seasons from last season's stellar rookie class, and the breadth of young talent in the NHL has added an extra layer of enjoyment during the past few seasons. Just last season, 19 of the league's top 50 scorers were 24 or younger, representing an uptick from recent campaigns.
As exciting as this young group is, they also are making lists like these tougher to put together. Inevitably, multiple players that have a good argument to be on this list are going to be left off. Twenty-five sounds like a lot -- until you actually start listing players.
Let's get some quick criteria out of the way. To be eligible for this ranking, players had to be 24 years old or younger on Sept. 15, 2017. Prospects are not eligible, meaning anyone who can still qualify for the Calder Trophy heading into this season is not included.
As for how I got to the 25: There is definitely some projecting going on here, but I am weighting what they've already accomplished more heavily than what I think they will be in their careers. For me, the top 25 is a greater reflection of a player's value right now, ranked by the players I would most like to have on my roster heading into the 2017-18 season.