Hot or Not: Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky tops under-24 rankings

Here's our weekly look at the fortunes of some of the game's brightest young stars ages 24 and under.

Hot



Andre Burakovsky, LW, Washington Capitals

It took awhile, but the talented 21-year-old from Austria is finally hitting his stride with the league's best team. Over his past eight games, Burakovsky -- the 23rd overall pick in 2013 -- has scored five times and added seven assists. And, thanks to his increased power-play time, Burakovskyhas collected two goals and an assist with the man advantage for the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals.

Mikael Granlund, C, Minnesota Wild

The Wild are the best team in the Western Conference, and they deserve that consideration not just because goalieDevan Dubnyk is having a Vezina Trophy-worthy season. In fact, a large part of the team's success is because of its balanced attack and the maturation of a handful of young players like Granlund, a 24-year-old who has 42 points in 48 games in what has been a breakout season for both him and the Wild. Granlund, the ninth overall pick in 2010, has two goals and eight assists over the past eight games for Minnesota, which leads Chicago by four points heading into the All-Star break.

Conor Sheary, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins

Although he was sidelined by injury earlier this season, the diminutive Sheary has continued to impress in his first full NHL season, becoming an offensive mainstay halfway through last season. Playing mostly with Sidney Crosby, Sheary has 17 goals and 17 assists and has notched four game winners for the defending Stanley Cup champions. The 24-year-old, who went undrafted, has scored six goals and added three assists in his past seven games and was named one of the NHL's first stars of the week.

Not


Brandon Saad, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

It wasn't that long ago that Saad, the two-time Stanley Cup champion, was on our "hot" list -- just as it wasn't that long ago that the Blue Jackets were the top team in the NHL. With Columbus' 16-game win streak now receding in the rearview mirror, the Blue Jackets' play has flattened out a bit overall. Saad is also going through a personal rough patch, with just one goal and zero assists in his past eight games -- and just two goals in his last 14 outings.

Victor Rask, C, Carolina Hurricanes

The bottom has fallen out for the Hurricanes, who -- after inching to within a few points of a wild-card spot several weeks ago -- have lost five in a row. It's been a tough run for everyone and Rask, 23, has not been immune to the bad-luck bug; has hasn't had a point in his past six games. The 42nd overall pick in 2011 will need to return to form if the Canes are going to bounce back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Markus Granlund, LW, Vancouver Canucks

Granlund, 23, came over from Calgary in an offseason trade and has been a pleasant surprise for a Canucks team that has, likewise, been a pleasant surprise this season, hanging around the edge of the playoff picture far longer than most expected. There is little margin for error for Vancouver, though, given its limited offense. So when a guy like Granlund, the 45th pick in the 2011 draft, hits a dry spell -- as he is in now, with just one goal, zero assists and a minus-3 rating in his last six games -- the whole team feels it.

Young-guns showdown


Auston Matthews, C, Team Atlantic Division, versus Connor McDavid, C, Team Pacific Division

Sunday, Jan. 29, in Los Angeles

I don't actually know if we'll get this matchup or not, but who doesn't want to see these two young stars square off at the All-Star Game? Matthews, 19, is one point off the rookie scoring race and has the Toronto Maple Leafs poised for a serious, if unexpected, run at the playoffs, while McDavid, 20, leads all NHLers in scoring at the break, with 59 points.
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