Youngest NHL Players in History – Who Leads the Way?

youngest nhl players

6 minutes

Last Updated: May 25, 2024


When we think about professional sports in the US, we mostly picture mature athletes in their 20s or 30s.

However, every once in a while, whether because of their amazing talents or because of extraordinary circumstances, we see players that seem too young for professional sports.

One of the major American sports that has its fair share of young talents is the NHL, so today, we will pay tribute youngest NHL players them and answer who is the youngest player in the NHL ever.

10. Jordan Staal (18 years and 32 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 09/10/1988
  • Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
  • First NHL Appearance: 10/12/2006

Jordan Staal was selected as the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played his first NHL game on the 12th of October that same year against the New York Rangers.

In his first game, Staal was 18 years and 32 days, but that didn’t stop him from proving himself as a valuable asset to his team.

In fact, he owns the record for the youngest NHL player to score two shorthanded goals. He achieved this feat only nine days after his debut, in a match against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Apart from setting records in his first season, he was also a big contributor for the Penguins at the offensive end scoring 29 goals and 42 points in the 2006/2007 NHL campaign.

His greatest achievement came in 2009 when he won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins. During the playoffs, Staal played in 24 games and scored four goals and five assists.

9. Grant Mulvey (18 years and 32 days)

  • Position: Right Wing
  • Date of Birth: 09/17/1956
  • Team: Chicago Blackhawks
  • First NHL Appearance: 10/19/1974

Grant “Granny” Mulvey was drafted as the 16th overall pick in 1974 by the Chicago Blackhawks. He played his first NHL game against St. Louis Blues on the 19th of October 1974. On that day, he had 18 years and 32 days.

Although he struggled with injuries all of his career, he still managed to showcase a part of his talent.

Most of his highlights came at the beginning of his career. He scored his first goal in his first game and became the youngest player to score in the NHL at the time.

Mulvey also managed to set a franchise record for the most points in a game. He scored five goals and had two assists on February 3rd, 1982, against the St. Louis Blues.

Granny retired in 1985 after playing for eleven years and 586 matches in the NHL.

8. Aleksander Barkov (18 years and 31 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 09/02/1995
  • Team: Florida Panthers
  • First NHL Appearance: 10/03/2013

Aleksandrov Barkov debuted for the Florida Panthers in 2013 after being selected as the 2nd overall pick.

He scored a goal in his first NHL game against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 3, 2013, and became the second youngest player to score in his first NHL appearance.

Up to this moment, Barkov has spent his whole NHL career with the Panthers, during which he managed to win the Atlantic Division title in 2015-16 and was named an All-Star in 2018.

He also led the league in shorthanded goals with five during the same season.

His greatest individual achievement came in the 2020-21 season when he won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the National Hockey League.

The Finn has been one of the most consistent Panthers players ever since he entered the league and has scored 20+ goals in each of his previous six seasons.

7. John Schmidt (18 years and 11 days)

  • Position: Left Wing
  • Date of Birth: 11/11/1924
  • Team: Boston Bruins
  • First NHL Appearance: 11/22/1942

John “Jackie” Schmidt made his first appearance in the NHL during the 1942 campaign as a part of the Boston Bruins.

His first debut came on the 22 November against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the end, he would play only 45 games in the league, all as a member of the Bruins.

For most of his career, which lasted from 1942 to 1953, Schmidt spent in the minor leagues as a member of the Regina Abbotts, Providence Reds, Toronto RCAF, Toronto CIL, Halifax Navy, Dartmouth RCAF, New Westminster Royals, and Valleyfield Braves for which he played six seasons.

6. Ted Kennedy (17 years and 322 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 12/12/1925
  • Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
  • First NHL Appearance: 10/30/1943

At 17 years and 322 days, Ted “Teeder” Kennedy is the sixth youngest NLF player to appear on the ice.

He achieved this feat on the 30th of October 1943 when he suited up for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the New York Rangers.

But if we take a look at his Hall of Fame career, this achievement looks pretty negligible.

Kennedy was the first NHL player to win the Stanley Cup five times, and this has earned him a spot in the 100th greatest NHL players of all time.

He spent his whole career, which lasted from 1943 to 1957, with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

During this time, he played in 696 NHL games, scoring 231 goals and 329 games for a total of 560 points.

5. Jackie Hamilton (17 years and 263 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 06/02/1925
  • Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
  • First NHL Appearance: 02/20/1943

The number five on our list of the youngest NHL players is Jackie Hamilton. Hamilton made his first NHL appearance at 17 years and 263 days in a game against Boston Bruins on 20th February 1943.

The former Maple Leaf played a total of 102 games during the three seasons he spent in the NHL.

However, Hamilton’s hockey career lasted much longer, from 1941 to 1958. He spent most of his career playing in other minor leagues.

4. Don Gallinger (17 years and 222 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 04/16/1925
  • Team: Boston Bruins
  • First NHL Appearance: 11/24/1942

Just like his good friend Ted Kennedy, Don Gallinger made his NHL debut at the early age of 17.

Gallinger played his first NHL game in 1942 against the Chicago Blackhawks and would spend another five seasons in the NHL.

As per reports, he was an exceptional athlete who was considered a top prospect for both hockey and baseball, so it is no surprise he became one of the youngest NHL players.

A testimony to this is the invites he received from the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies before he decided to continue with hockey as his career.

Like many other players on this list, Gallinger would go on to spend the majority of his 17-year career in the minor leagues.

3. Ross Johnstone (17 years and 207 days)

  • Position: Defense
  • Date of Birth: 04/07/1926
  • Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
  • First NHL Appearance: 31/10/1943

The third and last Maple Leaf player on our list is Ross Johnstone. At 17 years and 207 days, he is the third youngest player to ever play in an NHL game.

The Montreal native made his debut against Chicago Blackhawks on the 21st of November 1943.

And while his NHL career lasted only 42 games and stretched over two seasons, he still managed to win hockey’s ultimate reward, the Stanley Cup, in 1945.

2. Don Raleigh (17 years and 147 days)

  • Position: Center
  • Date of Birth: 06/27/1926
  • Team: New York Rangers
  • First NHL Appearance: 11/21/1943

Don “Bones” Raleigh is the second youngest player to ever play in the National Hockey League. At the time of his debut in 1943, he was only 17 days and 147 days old.

Due to his fragile frame, there were a lot of questions if he could withstand the harsh nature of the NHL.

Raleigh managed more than prove his doubters wrong with 553 appearances at the pro level.

And he was more than a bystander during his career as he managed to become the first player to score four times in a game while wearing the New York Rangers uniform.

1. Bep Guidolin (16 years and 350 days)

  • Position: Left Wing
  • Date of Birth: 12/09/1926
  • Teams: Boston Bruins
  • First NHL Appearance: 11/24/1942

At 16 years and 350 days, Bep Guidolin became the youngest player to play in an NHL game back in 1942 when he suited up for the Boston Bruins against the Chicago Blackhawks.

And although the Bruins were forced to give him a chance because of the circumstances (the II World War), he achieved a successful career in the NHL.

Guidolin played for 10 seasons in the NHL and was a member of the Bruins, Blackhawks, and Red Wings. During this period, he appeared in 519 games and scored 107 goals along with 171 assists.

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