The Best Young Core in the League - Second Heat

USA TODAY Sports

Which of these four contenders can claim a spot in the final?

In yesterday's first heat, the Oilers group of young players dominated their competition. Today's heat should be much closer. I've got the Montreal Canadiens (Eyes on the Prize) seeded fourth but I think that a case can be made to vote for any of the three other teams running against them: the Chicago Blackhawks (Lazy Blogging Community), the New York Islanders (Lighthouse Hockey), and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Pension Plan Puppets).

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I've once again highlighted the player that I like the best in each group, and unlike last time, all four teams look quite strong. Montreal doesn't have quite as much yellow as the other three, and I had them seeded!

Why should Montreal win? They're the only team with two players who are probably going to be elite. I may like John Tavares better than P.K. Subban, but Subban has already won a Norris trophy, marking him as one of the best defensemen in the league, and Alex Galchenyuk's rookie year puts was extremely promising. Although there's a decline after that, the next three players are all already contributing at a high level in the NHL, and the next three have a reasonable chance of doing so in the future.

Why should New York win? They've got the best player, and a very deep group. Like Montreal, the group after Tavares may fall short of elite, but the next three players either are or are very likely to be strong NHL players. Griffin Reinhart and Matt Donovan provide the last bit of yellow in the eight and nine slot, but probably could have claimed victory in the six and seven slots as well (which is where I'd have put them).

Why should Chicago win? Patrick Kane and then excellent depth. It's hard to believe that Kane would come into this competition and only end up as the third-best player in the group, but even if that's the case, he's a lot closer to first than fourth. The Hawks don't have the quality established talent in the middle of the group like Montreal and New York, but they do have a lot of promising prospects. I made this list myself and found that, unlike with some of these other teams, there was still quality to be found when I got to tenth.

Why should Toronto win? Well... they probably shouldn't. The big knock against them is that they're missing an elite player at the top, and they don't have the excellent depth like Chicago does either. Still, that group running 3-4-5 is very good, and the two guys above them probably deserve to be so it's not like the Leafs are sandbagging to take points lower on the list. I don't think they should win, but given PPP voting patterns, Toronto is probably the favorite.

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