TSN has come out with a thought experiment in which they rank all 31 NHL teams based on their core of young players. Specifically,
The Toronto Sports Network Frank Seravalli determines each team’s four best players under the age of 24 — the Core Four Under 24 — and ranks them based on that.
Despite having last season’s Most Valuable player, the Oilers didn’t come out on top. The Toronto Maple Leafs did.
You’d think that having a guy on your team who won the Hart Trophy and reached the 100-point plateau at the age of 20 would give you the best core of young players in the league, but that isn’t the case. Seravalli gave Toronto the edge because Morgan Rielly is a young leader on the blueline, Mitch Marner and William Nylander are great young wingers, and the gap between Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid is shrinking by the day.
Personally, I’m not a fan of these kinds of things because the cutoff seems fairly arbitrary. I mean, if you changed it to Core Five Under 25 then you could add Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Oscar Klefbom to Edmonton’s list. What if you made it something like “Core Four of players who have played in the second round of the NHL playoffs”?
I can sort of justify the logic here in that two of Edmonton U-24 players aren’t proven. Darnell Nurse has had a very good start to his season but hasn’t consistently played like a top-four defenceman like Rielly has, and Jesse Puljujarvi only has 31 games of NHL experience. But would you trade McDavid and Draisaitl for that entire lot of Leafs players? I think Matthews is a damn good player, but the gap between him and McDavid is bigger than this thought experiment suggests.
What say you, Nation? Is TSN pandering to hockey’s biggest market here? Are they just trying to capitalize on a possible beef between two passionate fanbases? Or is there legitimacy behind how good Toronto’s young core is and the narrowing gap between McDavid and Matthews?
So what is the case that Oilers fans are using? Well it’s that the guy that McDavid banks pucks off of has an impressive point total. Shocking. They are also trying to make a case for Darnell Nurse being a top talent, when the smart and good looking people of Toronto know that Connor Carrick would be ahead of him on any teams depth chart. The inclusion of Jesse Puljujarvi is laughable and just speaks to the lack of depth and the sad state of the Oilers franchise. Truly they should be pitied as another decade of darkness will soon be upon them.