The Top 25 Under 25 has been our summer series since 2010. At first it was the staff who were responsible for the voting, but this changed in 2016 when we invited our community members to vote as well, and took this a step further with individual ballots for the community in 2017.
A total of 115 players had been ranked from 2010 to 2017. Some of those had never been ranked in the top 25, while a select few were never any lower than the top three. With the ninth series about to start, a quick look at the history of the rankings will be of interest.
In order to limit the data, players who never cracked the top 20 in any year were removed from the data set, with the exception of two players — Josh Brook and Cale Fleury — whose only entries were in the top 25 of the 2017 rankings. This reduced the player pool from 115 to 71 entries.
Five players had never been ranked outside the top three: Carey Price ranked #1 both in 2010 and 2011; P.K. Subban ranked #2 in 2010 and 2011 and #1 in 2012 and 2013; Alex Galchenyuk ranked #3 in 2012, #2 in 2013, and #1 in the four years from 2014 to 2017.
Two players have only had one entry, but finished top three that time: Mikhail Sergachev at #3 in 2016, and Jonathan Drouin as the #2 player last season..
In our 71-player sample of players that have all ranked in the top 20, 23 have never played a single NHL game. Some of them are too young to have made their debut in the top league, such as Brook, Fleury, and Lukas Vejdemo, whereas others really failed to make the expected mark for Montreal or another team in NHL; players like Sebastian Collberg and Magnus Nygren, be it due to a lack of progress or to injuries.
Still, if you place top 20 in the Top 25 Under 25, you have a 67% chance of making the big leagues, showing that the rankings have mostly been an indication of things to come, and this number still includes first-year prospects who have not had their chance to develop and make an impact on that level.
Most of the player have managed a pro career somewhere. Mark Mitera (ECHL/AHL), Dalton Thrower (ECHL), and Ian Schultz (one year with Edinburgh Capitals, EIHL) are the ones that seem to have struggled in their careers, but they are still active. Others have ended up in the KHL, SHL, NLA, or Liiga.
There have been 19 players ranked within the top 25 only once. Either they were only eligible for one season for different reasons, like graduating from the series as Dustin Boyd did in 2010 when he was ranked at #10. Some have just started their career with the Montreal Canadiens organization and will hopefully make an impact for the foreseeable feature; players such as Drouin and Ryan Poehling.
Others have left the team after a quick appearance. Zack Kassian managed to be part of the T25U25 and was ranked seventh in 2015, but ended up getting traded before the season started. Jiri Sekac was 11 in 2014 but was traded before the season finished and a new T25U25 could be done. Sergachev was ranked #3 before getting traded for the next year’s #2 in Drouin. Recent Stanley Cup-winner Devante Smith-Pelly was ranked at #15 in 2015, but was traded from the organization during the following season.
While many players have been stable — Price and Subban, as well as some who were were added right after they were drafted like Galchenyuk, Nathan Beaulieu, and Nikita Scherbak — others have had a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
Artturi Lehkonen, Jacob de la Rose, and Michael McCarron have been hard to judge for those involved in the ranking process. Some have had some big gains between seasons, Charles Hudon (between 2012 and 2013) and Sven Andrighetto (2013 to 2014) jumped 18 spots from one ranking to the next. Martin Réway holds the record with a 19-position surge between his draft year in 2013 and his second year of eligibility.
One player has had a fall from grace after starting at #8 in 2010. Alexander Avtsin fell 16 places from 2011 to 2012, ranking #27 in his last year in the series.
David Desharnais was ranked number 19 in 2010 and played in over 500 NHL games. He is the one player that the voters underestimated the most. Of course, Dasharnais was only part of the first T25U25 and had a small sample size, but to have that low of a rank in his final year of eligibility and still reach 524 NHL games is just another achievement in a career of surprises, and shows that the panel doesn’t always get it right.
With the fact that 67% of the players that have ranked in the top 20 have had at least some NHL experience, and over 90% of the players have had a successful hockey career, I’d like to think that the voters have done a remarkable job. While there have been some outliers in regards to a successful NHL career, the precision of predicting the future should only increase thanks to the community vote and the fact that the number of votes have increased from the first few years, negating potential outliers that could have a big impact in a limited group of people. Group-think should also be limited, as the voting is anonymous in many ways, and it will only benefit the community and evaluation process with increased participation.
There are, of course, players who have gone a different path and ended up outside the Canadiens organization and still have had a good hockey career either in the NHL or in other leagues around the world. While it is easy to consider a non-NHL career a failure, we have to remember that making one of the top teams in the hockey world, no matter in what country, should be considered a success in the long run.
There have only been three players reach the #1 ranking over eight seasons. Since Galchenyuk held the top spot for four seasons, that means that there will be a new top player under 25 in 2018.
While we all will have to wait to see which player that will be, it will be equally interesting to see if that player will be able to hold on to the top spot after the 2018-19 season concludes.
Top 25 Under 25 Voting - 2010-17
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