Five for Fighting: Best youngsters remaining in playoffs

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

At 21, Andrew Shaw is one of the best young players still in the playoffs. (USATSI)
At 21, Andrew Shaw is one of the best young players still in the playoffs. (USATSI)

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Every day, we'll have a top-five list that is pretty self-explanatory, all in this man's opinion. Today: The best players remaining in the playoffs 22 years of age or younger.

No. 5: Tyler Toffoli. Between the regular season and the playoffs, Toffoli has appeared in just 19 games this year in the NHL. The 21-year-old center is beginning to show some of the skills that made him a two-time 50-goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League. He might not be making a huge impact just yet, but with four points in nine playoff games, he's giving Kings fans a taste of what's to come.

No. 4: Brandon Saad. Though Chicago's Calder Trophy finalist is without a goal this postseason, he has been making an impact in a variety of ways. The 20-year-old possesses some really striking puck skills, but he has been asked to play more of an energy role as the postseason has progressed. Saad has found a way to combine both and has given teams fits of late in the postseason. Being apart from his regular-season linemates, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, makes for a lower production level, but Saad continues to generate chances, sometimes in thrilling fashion. Chicago has a potentially special player on its hands with this one.

No. 3: Andrew Shaw. With his play through the first two games of the Western Conference finals, Shaw is showing he can be more than just an agitator. His line with rookie Brandon Saad and Viktor Stalberg has been a continual threat on the forecheck against LA, and Shaw potted a huge goal Sunday in Game 2. The 21-year-old has four goals and three assists in 14 postseason games. He needs to watch the bad penalties, as he's taken a few, but that might go along with his style. He has become a major factor against the defending champs.

No. 2: Torey Krug. The playoff sensation has made such a huge impact in his brief time with the Bruins that he has already becoming a big fan favorite in Boston. The 22-year-old, undersized defenseman has shown poise in the highest-pressure situations of his young career. He is the first rookie defenseman to score four goals through his first five postseason contests, so Krug is a history-maker as well. It will be interesting to see how he'll be utilized next season, but he has shown he belongs in the NHL with his stellar postseason performance to date.

No. 1: Tyler Seguin. He has not produced nearly at the level that you'd expect, but it's hard to remember Seguin is still just 21 years old. He's already in his third Stanley Cup playoffs and is being utilized regularly. The pucks just haven't been going in for him. Seguin has poured 45 shots on net this postseason, so something's bound to click. He's a year removed from a 29-goal season, so he clearly has the ability to increase his productivity. The more this postseason has progressed, the more it seems like Seguin is due to break out. If and when he does, it could be scary for whoever stands in the Bruins' way.

Honorable Mention: Nick Leddy (age 22).

 
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