NHL Week in Review (October 12-15)

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If there was any day that expressed just how much the young talent is taking over the entire league it has to be opening day in 2016.

It is not a new story and not one that is surprising anyone as the last decade has seen a youth movement in the NHL.

This is an era where the best players in the world seem to come into the league through the draft every year.

Whereas it used to be a league where the team had to send their best prospects to the AHL to get some experience before moving to the NHL.

Now these kids are coming in fully prepared to play at the highest level the sport has to offer.

It seems like every year there is a can’t-miss prospect that is taken first overall and has the ability to save a franchise.

It is happening more and more and it doesn’t even need to be the top pick in the draft that makes a massive difference.

The first night of games in the new season showed exactly how far these young players have come as the first night saw two of the biggest young stars take over.

Last year the Edmonton Oilers drafted a young man who was already gaining comparisons to Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.

He had taken over every league that he was a part of breaking records along the way and becoming a clear favourite to be the next one.

There was no question in last year’s draft that he was the top pick and the Oilers took Connor McDavid with the first overall pick.

Although he was out with an injury most of the year he still put up a point-a-game pace and almost won the Calder Trophy as the best rookie.

This year in his first game against Calgary McDavid entered his sophomore season showing that he wasn’t about to suffer a sophomore slump putting up three points against the provincial rivals.hockey-sidebar

The start was great for the star that is supposed to become the best player in the world.

What was a little more interesting though was the debut of the super-rookie that everyone was watching.

Auston Matthews had surpassed all of the traditional ways of heading to the NHL when he rejected all NCAA offers and did not enter a CHL draft.

Instead, he went overseas where he played for Zurich in the Swiss league the year before his NHL draft.

While playing with grown men he was one of the best players in the league and continued to be the consensus #1 in the draft.

To add to the hype the team with the #1 pick in the draft was Toronto where hockey is king and the hockey media is ruthless.

Not everyone can handle the pressure that Toronto brings and Matthews was headed for the city as the saviour of a once great franchise.

It was a lot of pressure to handle and he stepped onto the NHL ice for the first time in the regular season in Ottawa looking to show what he could do.

He did a great job of that as his first two NHL shots resulted in goals and then he became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his first game.

The league took notice and although that pace is impossible to keep up all year it did prove, once again, that the young guys are taking over.

On two teams on different sides of the country the two young players are already taking over their teams and although they might not always stay that way they are certain to be at least one of the best players on the roster.

It is the continuation of a long-standing pattern in the NHL as the young guns are now the leaders in the league.

The best part about that is that all of these players are extremely entertaining to watch and the more these young players do the brighter the future is.

This is only the start of these careers and so many more, so just imagine what could happen for these players their teams and the sport in general as the level of talent kicks up a notch with the youth movement continuing.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

Gretzky Back in Edmonton
In a constant attempt to get back to being a great franchise the Oilers are looking for any advantage and they will look to the greatest player to ever be in the city as Wayne Gretzky has been named vice-chairmen of the Oilers Entertainment Group

Sabres IR Filling Up
Before the season began the Sabres ran into injury trouble as Jack Eichel hurt his ankle in practice and then in their first game they lost Evander Kane who ran into the boards hard and cracked his ribs as both important players are out for a long time

Crosby Worries
Sidney Crosby began his Stanley Cup defending season on the sidelines after suffering another concussion but it was what is scarier is that it is not his first and now he sits on the sidelines for a while as he looks to recover

Johnny Hockey Signs
It was a major story in Calgary as a young star was holding out to get a payday and Johnny Gaudreau waited until the final days to get a deal done as just before the season started Calgary signed him to a six-year deal

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Key Scores:
Ottawa Senators 5-4 Toronto Maple Leafs (OT)
– The Leafs saw their rookie put up all of their goals on the night as Auston Matthews became the first player to begin his career with four goals in his first game but they still couldn’t get the win as their provincial rivals took the win in overtime

New York Rangers 5-3 New York Islanders
– The Battle of New York has only gotten bigger as both teams continue to fight at the top of the league and the Rangers struck first this year taking a big win in their opening game and setting the tone for this season-long series

Edmonton Oilers 5-3 Calgary Flames
– Two big rivals began the season with a home and home series and the rebuilt Oilers showed that they want to be a competitive team this year as they took the first game and this second rematch to start the season 2-0

Minnesota Wild 4-3 Winnipeg Jets
– It is a border rivalry that is still just getting started but part of the reason it has not been as fierce as it could be is that the Jets rarely have the ability to compete and they continued to do that taking the loss

Next Week:
Buffalo Sabres vs. Edmonton Oilers (Sunday, October 16th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Oilers have surprised a lot of people with the start of their season and they will try to continue that good start against the Sabres in a match-up that was supposed to be Eichel versus McDavid but is now just two young teams facing off

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Tuesday, October 18th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Battle of Florida was not always a great rivalry but it is becoming better as the Panthers begin to compete and with both teams starting their season undefeated they face-off trying to take first blood in this season series

San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Thursday, October 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Stanley Cup rematch is here as the Sharks travel to Pittsburgh looking to get some revenge after dropping their chance at hoisting the cup last year while Pittsburgh looks to prove that they are still better

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Saturday, October 22nd; 7:00 pm ET)
– Two classic NHL teams go head-to-head in a big season for the Leafs as they continue to celebrate their history while looking to their future on the ice and they take on a struggling Blackhawks team looking to get back to winning

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