There are future stars.
And then there are future superstars. The can't-miss-kids that have NHL GMs drooling.
Oshawa Generals scoring machine John Tavares is definitely in the latter category and, despite being just 17, has been for years.
The OHL needed to amend its rules to allow the gifted teenager into the league as a 15-year-old.
The Oshawa Genereals superstar responded with 45 goals and 77 points.
Yup, he belongs.
Last year, he torched the OHL for 72 goals and 134 points and was named the CHL's player of the year.
As the top scorer in the CHL again this season, he's well on his way to defending that title. The last player to accomplish that feat was Sidney Crosby (2004-05).
Tavares' domination has prompted a country-wide debate.
Is this kid too good for another year of junior?
The numbers would suggest so.
And Edmonton Oil Kings captain Bretton Stamler says it's time for the phenom to move on to bigger and better things.
"I think they should do the same thing they did with the Ontario (Hockey) League draft and make an exceptional-player status," Stamler says.
"For his sake, it's not going to do anything for him if he's scoring 100 goals in the OHL.
"In minor hockey, if you're scoring 100 goals at atom, they're going to move you up to pee wee. I think if he's doing the same thing, then why not?
"It makes no sense for him to score 160 points or something like Crosby did, and stay in the same league.
"He's probably just going to get some bad habits, if anything."
Brandon Wheat Kings d-man Colby Robak, who played with Tavares at the 2006 Canadian U-18 camp, agrees.
"He's the most intelligent guy I've ever seen on the ice," Robak says. "He's not like any other 17-year-old I've ever played with."
The major sticking point is Tavares' birthday. He'll turn 18 next Sept. 20 -- five days too late to qualify for the NHL Entry Draft.
The 6-ft., 183-pounder continues to go about his business. He leads the Ontario circuit with 17 goals and 32 points in 14 games.
Just imagine what he'd do next year.
But Calgary Hitmen defenceman Karl Alzner, widely considered the top junior blueliner in the country, insists another year in the CHL could actaully pay dividends for Tavares.
"I think he should have to do it the way everybody else did it," Alzner says when asked if Tavares should be granted entry into next summer's NHL Entry Draft.
"They didn't do it for Crosby and look what he's doing. I don't think they should change the game too much.
"Otherwise, it'll happen once, and there will be someone else and it'll happen again and it'll get out of hand.
"I think they should wait and let him develop before they throw him into the fire too early."
And Alzner, a fourth-year Hitmen d-man and teammate of Tavares during the fall Canada-Russia Super Series, knows of what he speaks.
Born on Sept. 24, he had to wait nearly a full year longer than most before he heard his named called fifth overall by the Washington Capitals at last summer's draft.
"They didn't throw me in there, so why should he?" Alzner says, with a laugh. "He's a lot better than I am in terms of points, that's for sure.
"But they should just let the kid play his years in junior, let him play in the world juniors and stuff."
Tavares will without question be a part of Canada's world junior squad this holiday season. But does he need to be playing junior again at this time next season?
"As he gets older, he's going to learn the entire game a little bit more," says Alzner, who was named as the Hitmen's captain Monday. "For me, the last year or two, I've learned a lot.
"Any of the older guys will tell you the league feels slower the older you get."
But if the game gets any slower for Tavares, he might be seeing it in reverse.
Or, at least neutral, where his future seems to be frozen.