Each time the final votes are tallied in our annual Top 25 Under 25, there are a few players who some believe deserve to be included among the best in the organization, but don’t get the full support of the panel.
In 2013, Sven Andrighetto was one of the players on the outside looking in, and has seen success in the NHL during the last two seasons. He will be a candidate to claim one of the 23 roster spots for the 2016-17 season.
Daniel Carr just missed out in 2014 after completing his NCAA career and having no professional experience to be judged upon, and was one of the better forwards for the Montreal Canadiens when he got in the lineup last year.
Last summer we highlighted the five players who finished in ranks 26 to 30 before the countdown began. Two of those players feature among the Top 25 this time around.
This year we had 19 panelists submit ballots, including one calculated from the hundreds of community ballots received (labelled “EOTP“). The following is a list of those who finished just outside the official 2016 list.
30. Jeremiah Addison
Five of the 19 panelists placed Addison among the top 25 on their ballots, with four slotting him at 21, but Addison ended up 30th in the overall rankings.
One of the last selections in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Addison had an impressive season with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League, finishing just shy of the 30-goal and 60-points plateaus. He plays a physical style, working his way to the front of the net on his shifts, and getting in position for dangerous scoring chances.
Addison will rejoin Ottawa for the 2016-17 season. If he can put up another successful offensive season, he will very likely be among the top 25 players under the age of 25 in the 2017 rankings.
29. Michael McNiven
McNiven was a free-agent addition to the prospect system, signed during training camp last fall. At the time, he brought some much-needed depth to what was a shallow pool of goaltending prospects.
He made that signing look like a stroke of genius in his season with the Owen Sound Attack, being among the top three goaltenders in save percentage and goals-against average for most of the campaign. Unfortunately, a dropoff over the final portion of the season, and unspectacular numbers after a valiant effort to hold off the eventual Memorial Cup-winning London Knights in the first round of the OHL playoffs, took a bit of the shine off his stock, and may have cost him a spot in the 2016 Top 25.
#Habs Michael McNiven continues to impress. Here's his latest show-stopping save, this time with the paddle: pic.twitter.com/w4wcuJRp7q— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) April 2, 2016
He played more than twice as many games as he did in an impressive 2014-15 season, which may explain why he had such a sharp decline as the season wore on. With that experience, and a proper amount of conditioning this summer to deal with the rigours of being a number-one goaltender, McNiven could have a bounce-back season and establish himself within the organizational depth.
28. Tim Bozon
After an amazing recovery from meningitis a few seasons ago, Bozon got his first taste of professional action in 2015-16 with the St. John’s IceCaps.
The stint in the AHL proved very difficult for the young French forward, unable to duplicate the goal-scoring success he’d enjoyed throughout his junior career. As a result, Bozon spent parts of the season in the third-tier of North American professional hockey: in the ECHL with the Brampton Beast.
With no votes lower than 32, all panelists believe that there is still some potential in a player who was a perennial 30-goal scorer in the defensively-minded WHL, though a slight majority feel that his exclusion from this year’s list is warranted.
27. Stefan Matteau
Matteau narrowly missed out on making the Top 25, and was one of 27 players to finish with an average rank of less than 25 (at 24.35 when taking all 19 ballots into consideration). Ten panelists had him 25th or better, but the other nine were slightly more vocal in keeping him off the list.
Despite a slight change to the description of the voting process to factor value just as highly as potential this time around, even 56 games of NHL experience — 32 of which came last year — weren’t enough to claim Matteau a spot.
With just two points in the NHL in 2015-16 and a career AHL scoring rate of less than half a point per game, there’s a grim projection of his future as an NHLer.
Matteau could be demoted to the AHL this year and regarded as an emergency call-up option if injury demons rear their ugly head once again. A decent campaign with the IceCaps may help to change the opinion of the 2012 NHL Draft first-round selection.
26. No Entry
Normally we highlight players from positions 30 to 26 in this introductory article, but this year, there is no player in the 26th position. Instead, we have two players tied for 25th (both with an average of 24.0).
Look for the first of the two players who claim the 25th spot to be profiled tomorrow, as the Canadiens 2016 Top 25 Under 25 officially gets underway.