I was once reading an article for some young guns who are coming into the NHL and it comes as a surprise that I found some of them are going to be emerging leaders who are talented, tough and lead by example. So here are some captains-in-waiting:
1. Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings
One of the main cogs on a young Los Angeles Kings Roster. It looks as though the Kings will start to look for more leadership as veterans are moving on to other teams. For anyone who is an LA Kings fan, after one of the Kings' alternate captains, Scott Thornton, retired this summer while another Michael Cammalleri, was traded to Calgary, it wouldn't be surprise to see Kopitar with an "A" on his sweater in the 2008-09 season.
As one of the Kings' most popular players, Kopitar has remained humble and accountable, never pointing fingers and without fail making himself available to reporters to answer tough questions after dreadful losses (of which there were more than a few last season). Plus, he's already a role model.
Stats: In his second year with the Kings, Anze Kopitar noticed 32 goals and 77 points in 82 games.
2. Jonathan Toews, the 20 year old forward of the Chicago Blackhawks
Now the captain of the young hawks team as he was named captain during the off season and the third youngest captain in NHL history. He will get better when he learns to use his body to be a physical players and toss that Rookie of the year winner Patrick Kane into the mix and it's now easy to see why Hawks fans are excited about hockey again.
Stats: Last year in his rookie year, Jonathan Toews led all NHL rookies with 24 goals and led the Blackhawks with a 53.2 winning percentage on face offs.
3. Shea Weber, the 23 year old defesenseman of the Nashville Predators
An excellent young leader as he is the total package on the blue line as he boasts a rocket shot and a mean streak. If he stays healthy, he's a beast.
Stats: Led the Predators in 2.1 body checks per game last season.
4. Mikko Koivu, the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens forward and captain Saku Koivu was named in the rotating captain for the months of October and November for the Minnesota Wild. He has great size (6 foot 2, 207) and uses it well. With his work ethic, he was a great pick for the captain and followed his older brother Saku.
Stats: Scored four goals in six playoff games after 11 in 57 in regular season games.
5. Paul Stastny, who plays for the Colorado Avalanche
The son of hockey hall of famer, Peter Stastny who knows what it takes to win. He never takes shortcuts and plays with a physical edge. With 71 points in 66 games, Stastny served notice he's ready to take the Avalanche on his shoulders when the post-Sakic era begins.
Stats: Plus -22 and averaged more than a point a game last season.
So there you have it for my top 5 emerging NHL leaders. Let's see if they can live up to their expectations and be the leaders that they can be.
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