The former No. 1 overall pick and rookie of the year who trains in the summer with Sidney Crosby has taken his game to another level. With a blend of speed and savvy to go with a pinpoint shot, Nathan MacKinnon's blossomed into one of the league's top scorers with 33 goals and 49 assists.
Beyond just controlling faceoffs, having depth at center is a growing factor for success in the NHL. Contenders like the Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins all boast depth down the middle and are spreading centers all over the lineup.
Patrik Laine was the consolation prize in the 2016 NHL draft behind generational talent Auston Matthews. But he has been a cause for celebration in Winnipeg as a franchise-changing superstar at age 19.
The NHL's goals race comes down to Ovechkin and Malkin—he Nos. 1 and 2 picks from 2004—and Laine, the second selection in 2016 who has shown he deserves to be in the conversation for the best goal-scorer in hockey today.
Sebastian Aho is a winger for the Carolina Hurricanes. Sebastian Aho is a defenseman for the New York Islanders. Dig a little deeper and you'll find the two NHLers have more in common than their monikers.