Habs Top 25 Under 25: Introduction

If you're a follower of SB Nation, you may be already aware of this concept. The Edmonton Oilers blog, The Copper & Blue, has run this twice in the past year as a look ahead for their team's future. So, with training camp coming up next month, I figured it'd be a good idea to poll the talent here at Eyes on the Prize to see what we thought, good or bad, about the guys our favourite team has in the same group. We're hardly perfect guys for the job, we aren't scouts for anyone currently, but we're passionate followers of the team and always keep an eye out for talent that could help the team win games down the line.

But first a few words about the concept. Top 25 Under 25 is about comparing players based on their age, not their pro hockey experience. When you eliminate players that are already contributing NHLers, you don't always give an accurate depiction of what the future of the team entails. All players that are signed to a NHL contract are under the control of their parent team until at least age 25... players cannot become UFA's before that age unless the team decides to buy them out or not submit a qualifying offer on their contract. The Habs actually possess two players that were not qualified by their teams this June: Benoit Pouliot and Dustin Boyd. But come next year, the Habs will again have the option of qualifying both those players based on their current deals.

It also is pretty common knowledge that players don't reach their peak production years until about the age of 25. They might be as good as they're going to be at age 21... we can't say that with 100% certainty that they will improve. But it's reasonable to assume players will get better if they are under 25 years old. Once they hit 25, that becomes less likely. It's a good age to use as a measuring stick.

So we're looking at players that will be under 25 on Sept. 15. Sept. 15 is the date that, in a player's draft year, they use as a cutoff. Each entry draft pits players that will turn 18 between Sept. 16 the previous calendar year and Sept. 15 of the current year. It also is an approximate starting point for NHL training camps, meaning no player can report to a training camp before their 18th birthday (at least roughly).

Each panelist was asked to submit their own top 25. Each player was then given points for their placement: 1st place got 25 points, 2nd place 24 points, and so on down to 25th place getting 1 point. I then took out the highest and lowest scores of each player to eliminate any potential personal bias to arrive with a total that reflects the general assessment of the panel. This last step did very little to change the results, and really only had an effect on the lower ranked players, but the players at the lower end ended up being guys generally liked by the majority of the panelists. Just as an added note, it should be known that new acquisition Karri Ramo was not included in the ranking, as the voting was originally done with Cedric Desjardins involved. His votes were discounted and we didn't bother to include Ramo due to the group not being familiar enough with him at this point.

For the list itself, click here for players 25-21, here for players 20-16, and here for 15-11.

And now, without further ado, the EOTP scouts:

Robert Lefebvre, Manager, Eyes On the Prize

Well, if you've been here before, you know Robert L's points of view already. He's tirelessly built up this very blog to what it is today, sharing his wealth of knowledge about the Habs in all his years as a fan. He's a member of the Society for International Hockey Research, and has even done some junior hockey scouting in the past. He's played the game, coached minor hockey, and let's face it: he knows more about the Habs than you do. He's also the boss around here, and is frequently inspired by the real Boss.

Chris Boyle, Editor, Eyes On the Prize

Habs fans throughout the internet know him by his code name "Wamsley", and they also know him for his incredibly thorough, analytical take on goaltenders. He's not a fan who is easily impressed, and he scoffs at the emotional outbursts of his brethren, favouring reason. He's like former PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau without having a dislike for all things west of Algonquin Park. Chris used to run the website Fantasy Hockey Sense, but now lives a more relaxed online existence.

Kevin van Steendelaar, Manager, Ya! The Habs Rule!; Editor, EOTP

Kevin is one of the more well known Habs bloggers on the net, running the prolific Ya! The Habs Rule! while also maintaining a high profile blogging on hockey cards paraphernalia and alerting GTA fans of upcoming autograph sessions on Examiner.com. He's also a frequent Twitter contributor when it comes to the Good Ship Habs, and is also a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Those that follow him on his blog, here on EOTP, and on Twitter know him as a passionate follower who expresses his opinion matter of factly.

Francis Bouchard, Manager, EOTP; Writer, Le Nord Newspaper (Hearst, Ontario)

Bouchard is a self-described "super fan" of the Habs, who immerses himself in all the pop culture tidbits that the Habs have embraced over the years. His posts on EOTP have focused a lot on Habs media appearances in unconvential forms over the years, from the history of the Habs appearing on film, early footage of team practices, and his conversations with Robert have provided frequent inspiration for our boss. He frequently makes the trip to Montreal to attend games (which is a good half-day trip from Hearst), and when the call came to submit a list, he scoured through any information he could find like the detail-oriented reporter/fan he is.

Chris Topham, Editor, Lions In Winter

Topham is well known in the Habs blogosphere, as during the regular season LIW provides some of the best post-game analysis you'll see for any team out there. He and co-editor Tobalev end each post-game with the 6 players they feel are worthy of a spot on the dome team, and their eyes for nuances in the flow of the game are on full display. Topham is an attention to detail mind when it comes to stats, embracing the new statistical world and applying that knowledge to what he observes on the ice. They were repsonsible for a goals created project on LIW, and are consistently trying to find the precise areas where the Habs are doing well, while paying heed to what they must improve on. Needless to say, they are often at odds with the conventional fan and media reaction as a result.

Brian La Rose, Chief Editor, Habsworld.net

Habsworld is one of the longest running Habs fan communities on the web, and still one of the best. Brian is a CBA expert, and also a keen follower of Montreal's AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. Habsworld features a lot of material for Habs prospects as a result, providing weekly recaps of the Bulldogs as well as living the fan's life of following the Canadiens very closely. If you're looking for quick information on new prospect acquisitions, be they through a trade or a collegiate free agent signing, Habsworld is probably going to have info available quicker than anyone. They will also be doing a prospect ranking before the start of the season, so keep your eyes out for that one.

Bruce Peter, Editor, Eyes On the Prize; Manager, Puck Worlds

As for me, I'm somewhat well known around the blogosphere by my handle saskhab, but lately I've been taking up residency at SB Nation's international hockey blog Puck Worlds. I'm a follower of hockey at various levels, and try and bring the knowledge I have from that experience to this project. Like everyone else, I've been a huge Habs fan since childhood, and that passion has helped lead me to my current role here. Am I an expert? I wouldn't say that, I'm more of an interested party like most of us here. However, if someone is willing to pay me good money for being a hockey expert, I will gladly claim such expertise. So yes, I'm an expert.

I hope you enjoy this series, which will start tomorrow with a profile on players 25-21 on our ranking.

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