Having seen the rest of the names so far, and being that most of our readership are devout Habs fans, none of these names should come as a surprise. Deciding on who should be in the top five should be easy, but the debate is where you place certain people in said top five. Here are the EOTP writers rankings.
#5: Nathan Beaulieu
Beaulieu benefits from the graduation of Max Pacioretty on this list, moving up a spot from our summer rankings. Last year's player of the year for the Hamilton Bulldogs is enjoying another solid season in the Hammer, currently sitting at 14 points in 32 games. The point production is slightly lower than what I'd personally like to see, yet I'm not worried about the young rearguard. He has excellent skating, vision, and puck control, making him a fantastic quarterback for a powerplay. He also has what I feel is a solid defensive game, and plays well in his own zone too. I have this vision of a future PP pairing of P.K. Subban and Beaulieu, and let me tell you, it is glorious. He deserves more shots with the big club right now, and I'm still trying to figure out why Douglas Murray is considered a better option by the coaching staff. Beaulieu will eventually cement himself in the top four of the Habs defensive corps, and I think that day is not too far off.
Not enough can be said of the diminutive winger who even has a sandwich at McDonald's named after him. Also up a spot from his ranking last year, Gallagher has continued his excellent play with the Canadiens, and isn't going anywhere any time soon. 11 goals and 10 assists for Gally has him right behind Brian Gionta for seventh in scoring on the team. Lately he's had some struggles, and a brutal call disallowing a goal against the Devils doesn't help. Once again, not worried about him. In spite of his size, he continually finds ways to create space for teammates and drives the net far better than anyone could ever expect. The tenacity of his play is inspiring, and he is proof that you don't need to be 6'3" to excel at the NHL level. Burger King and Wendy's should also name sandwiches after the kid, he's probably the hardest worker on the Habs roster night in and night out.
#3: Lars Eller
Time for a Larry love fest. I enjoy watching this man play so much I wish it could be my job. He seems to win puck battles like he's playing against a midget house league team. I have an instagram video from the game in Vancouver, which I attended, which you should go watch. In that video, Larry wins a puck battle, and if you enjoy a drunk French Canadian who speaks perfect English swearing and praising Lars Eller, you'll enjoy my talking in that video. His win of that battle then creates a good scoring chance, illustrating the importance of that skill. He's already a very talented two way forward and he just keeps getting better. Anyone, myself included, who took issue with the Halak trade is singing a totally different tune now, unless their name is Pierre McGuire. The Habs should offer him a long extension now, while he's still going to be relatively cheap. This is a player that only needs another year or two to be a complete possession monster and we need to lock that down.
#2: Alex Galchenyuk
Chucky's number two selection is the same as his summer rank, but this time it was unanimous. The American currently boasts 23 points on the season despite being constantly shuffled around with different linemates. He's fifth in team scoring behind Andrei Markov and let's just say this kid is going to be really, really, really good. There were two high profile members of the Sarnia Sting available in his draft year. Sorry Nail Yakupov, but I'm going to go ahead and say I believe we got the better one. His wrist shot is so powerful that once he improves his accuracy a bit, I don't know how any goalie can be expected to stop it. I'm not saying he's on Diaz levels of inaccuracy, but he does have some room for improvement. That and a little more shooting luck and I think he could easily be a 90 point per season guy. Let's not forget though, he's 19 years old. He has plenty of time to continue to develop, and we have every reason to be extremely excited about him. He's injured right now, which sucks, but he'll be back and he'll still be awesome.
#1: P.K. Subban
Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn't be. The unanimous number one selection from our summer series has remained unanimous among our voters as the top guy under 25 years of age. He's the team's best player - no offense to Carey Price - so his unanimous number one status is more than deserved. He's won a Norris trophy, he's going to win that again, and he's going to Sochi for Canada. You'd be hard pressed to find an issue with Subban's game. The common criticism is that he's risky in the defensive zone, but that's blown way out of proportion. He has made some errors leading to goals this season, but he's PLUS TEN people. I know we don't totally love that stat at EOTP, but the media does, and they need to recognize. Sure, he's had some lapses, but what about when he's making goal line saves? He's the kind of guy I want to see on the ice when the Habs have a one goal lead and there's 2 minutes on the clock. Hell, I'd rather have an exhausted Subban for the full deuce than see Douglas Murray for ten seconds.
Subban gets a second paragraph. He'll be graduating this list in May, so he won't be written about in this series again. The fact that we have him on our team is a luxury that I enjoy quite thoroughly. He is at the end of his contract, and I worry every day that Bergevin is going to do something stupid, and he ends up somewhere else. I know this is an unlikely scenario, and most people can't imagine that Bergevin would send the last Norris winner since Chris Chelios away, but it's not impossible. Subban has stated he wants to stay in Montreal, and I think he will, but as a fanatical fan I'll keep chewing my nails until he puts pen to paper. He's owned the last two Top 25 under 25 votes, and none of us even blinked. Best Defenseman in the world, and I'll repeat that again and again until and unless it's not true.
This concludes your mid-season top 25 under 25. Thank you to all who tuned in for the first ever edition of this here at EOTP, and as usual we encourage you to debate your rankings in the comments.