NHL: Top 5 under 25 That Will Have Greatest Impact in 2014 Olympics

Over the past few days countries such as Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Switzerland, USA and Canada all releasing the rosters for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Ufa, Russia. I thought this would be the perfect time to look back at guys who played in recent U-20 World Championships and rank the top five players under-25 based on their projected impact in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

5)Jonathan Toews- Canada

Toews has the best resume of any player on this list, he has a gold medal from every single level of international play from U-17 to the 2010 Winter olympics and won the Conn Smyth Trophy as the captain of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. However Toews will fight for ice time on Team Canada in 2014, as the center position has players such as Claude Giroux, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Getzlaf and both Jordan and Eric Staal fighting for a spot.

4)Ryan Mcdonagh- USA

In just his first full NHL season, Mcdonagh scored 32 points and finished fifth in the league in plus/minus rating. Mcdonagh has also developed into one of the games best shut-down defenseman, he showed flashes of his talent last season but by 2014 Mcdonagh will likely become the New York Rangers top defender- ahead of Daniel Girardi, Marc Staal, and Michael Del Zotto. Team USA does not have the offensive firepower to rival teams like Canada or Russia, so if the americans hope to challenge for the gold they will need a strong performance on the back end which will rely heavily on Mcdonagh and Jack Johnson.

3)Patrick Kane- USA

In the 2010 Olympics Kane finished with five points in six games, but he will need to take his game to another level in 2014 if he wants to lead team USA back to the championship game. In his five years in Chicago, Kane has consistently proven that he was worthy of the first overall pick in the 2007 entry draft and he is no stranger to the spotlight after scoring the overtime game-winning goal in Game 6 to win the 2010 Stanley Cup.

2)Steven Stamkos- Canada

Although it is hard to make an impact in your first Olympics on a team that is as offensively stacked as Canada will be in 2014, Stamkos has the talent to justify first line minutes and powerplay time. Although he only scored one goal while playing for Canada in 2008 World Junior Championships, Stamkos has scored 156 in the last three seasons and is poised to break out on the international stage.

1) Erik Karlsson- Sweden

In the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, Karlsson was voted the top defenseman by both the media and the tournament director. Karlsson lead the team in assists and led the tournament in plus/minus rating.
In just his second full NHL season, Karlsson broke out for 78 points which earned him the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Karlsson had 7 points in just 8 games in the 2012 World Championships and is ready to step into the spotlight as the backbone of the Swedish defense in 2014. If Karlsson can keep up his current level of play, he will be considered the worlds best defenseman by the start of the 2014 Winter Games.

P.S if Carey Price starts for Team Canada, he would be number 1 on this list easily. However with the goaltending talent that Canada has it is far too early to tell.

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