By now, you're probably well aware that the folks here at Eyes On the Prize have got together to update our list of the Top 25 Under 25 for the Montreal Canadiens. While the Canadiens have made several changes over the past year, changing the talent pool that we will be ranking, we too at EOTP have made some changes in that time frame. Our crew of seven from last year sees only five returning voters, while we've replaced the two missing ones and added yet another to the crew for a group of eight. Gone from last year's panel are Robert Lefebvre, this site's founder as he enjoys his blogging retirement, as well as Francis Bouchard. In their place, we have since added two writers that weren't part of the EOTP crew twelve months ago in Andrew Berkshire and Stephan Cooper. We've also added another outside mind to the crew, making this list the opinion of five EOTP contributors plus three outside bloggers. I'll introduce the rest of the panel later.
For now, a bit on the concept. We take the Canadiens players under the age of 25 as of September 15 of this year and rank them using the criteria of skill level, projected role, organizational importance and recent progress. We choose the age 25 as a cutoff for several reasons: one, to include a full picture of the organization's youth; two, because age 25 is a key age according to the CBA, allowing for players to earn UFA status; three, even late bloomers tend to show signs of progress by age 25. This concept was started by the folks down at our SB Nation's Oilers blog, The Copper & Blue. They're counting down their own Top 25 list as we speak, be sure to check it out.
The age definition allows us to talk about players that are already on the NHL team, which most prospect rankings do not. The oldest player under consideration for this list is new acquisition Michael Blunden, and the youngest player is 2011 draft pick Darren Dietz. Join me after the jump to see a full list of the players under consideration.
Centres: Michael Bournival, Michael Cichy, Lars Eller, Andreas Engqvist, Olivier Fortier, Joonas Nattinen, Daniel Pribyl, Dustin Walsh, Louis Leblanc.
Wingers: Olivier Archambault, Alain Berger, Hunter Bishop, Andrew Conboy, Brendan Gallagher, Patrick Johnson, Max Pacioretty, Steve Quailer, Danny Masse, Maxim Trunev, Phillippe Lefebvre, Mark MacMillan, Ian Schultz, Alexander Avtsin, Michael Blunden, Danny Kristo, Aaron Palushaj, John Westin, Gabriel Dumont, Brock Trotter, Ryan White
Defense: Nathan Beaulieu, Mac Bennett, Josiah Didier, Darren Dietz, Morgan Ellis, Scott Kishel, Mark Mitera, Brendon Nash, Magnus Nygren, Greg Pateryn, Joe Stejskal, P.K. Subban, Colin Sullivan, Jarred Tinrodi, Yannick Weber.
Goaltenders: Peter Delmas, Robert Mayer, Carey Price.
And now, our panellists:
Eyes On the Prize crew: The group of five from EOTP is made up of Kevin Van Steendelaar (site manager/"the boss"), Andrew Berkshire (writer), Chris Boyle (writer), Bruce Peter (writer), and Stephan Cooper (writer). Kevin, Chris and I were part of last year's team, while Andrew and Stephan will be doing this for the first time. This group will be doing the writing of all the individual profiles, as we are doing this in a more expansive format in 2011. Last year, I unveiled the order by groups of five, but this year we have enough participants to do a full profile for each player. We're hoping you enjoy the switch. Click on the names provided for our Twitter accounts, or follow the site on @HabsEOTP.
Brian La Rose, Habsworld.net: HabsWorld has been a key part of the Canadiens fan based web community since before blogs became popular. Brian is a CBA expert (seriously, ask him any question) who spends a lot of time following the game to game exploits of the Hamilton Bulldogs as well as the Canadiens. This is his second year as part of the EOTP team. You can follow Habsworld on Twitter @Habsworld_net.
Robert Rice, Habs and Hockey: Robert has become a frequent guest on
Habs Hockey Inside/Out by doing prospect reviews for the Gazette's hockey blog. What started as simply commentary on that website turned into a regular gig. He brings that keen eye to our panel to this panel for the first time. You can follow Robert on Twitter @SeriousFan09.
Chris Topham, Lions in Winter: Lions in Winter has been one of the best team blogs going for years now, and we're glad that the team they cover is the Canadiens. If you're looking for a fresh take on the craziness that's always surrounding the Habs, Topham and Tovalev have you covered. Chris lends his knowledge to us for the second time straight year. You can follow him on Twitter @Topham79.
Just one final note on the voting: every player's highest and lowest vote is discounted for the purposes of this exercise, to avoid any personal biases that may creep in. It really doesn't affect the ranking too much in the end, but since we all just submit Top 25 lists, it does make an impact as to who makes it onto the bottom part of the list. As a result, all 25 of these players were included on at least four of the eight ballots.
Here's a quick look back at the 2010 Rankings:
|The Departed||The Graduates||Introduction Part Deux||#25: Morgan Ellis|