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2020 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: Introduction

Before we begin the countdown to number one, this is how our list of 43 players was created.

Sergei Savostyanov/TASS

It’s time to begin Eyes On The Prize’s 11th annual Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25!

The series focuses on the top young talent in the organization, projecting their skills to identify who will compete (or not) for places on the NHL roster in the future, slotting them in among those who’ve already made it. Any player born after September 15, 1995 — the cutoff date for the 2020 NHL Draft — was eligible for inclusion. The pool totals 43 players, which is the lowest number since 2017.

A few players left the organization, while only eight new additions were made (the members of the Canadiens’ 2020 Draft class) and therefore the number of prospects and roster players in the system has dropped. Part of that was by design, as Marc Bergevin traded away several of his picks for the recent draft in order to move down to next year. As it stands, the organization is set to make 14 selections in 2021, at a draft they’ll hope can be held at the Bell Centre. Many of the roster holes are now plugged for a few seasons, and only two players are set to graduate from this project over the course of this season, so the drop in number of players to rank could be just temporary, with a big explosion next year.

The players considered for this year’s ranking, sorted from oldest to youngest, were:

Eligible players

Player DOB Age Pos Eligible for 2021
Player DOB Age Pos Eligible for 2021
Lukas Vejdemo 1996-01-25 24.8 C No
Jake Evans 1996-06-02 24.4 C No
Otto Leskinen 1997-02-06 23.7 LD Yes
Alexandre Alain 1997-03-03 23.7 RW Yes
Noah Juulsen 1997-04-02 23.6 RD Yes
Michael McNiven 1997-07-09 23.3 G Yes
Hayden Verbeek 1997-10-17 23.0 C Yes
Arvid Henrikson 1998-02-23 22.7 RD Yes
Arsen Khisamutdinov 1998-02-26 22.7 LW Yes
Michael Pezzetta 1998-03-13 22.6 LW Yes
Victor Mete 1998-06-07 22.4 LD Yes
Cale Fleury 1998-11-19 22.0 RD Yes
Ryan Poehling 1999-01-03 21.8 C Yes
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard 1999-01-06 21.8 LW Yes
Brett Stapley 1999-02-23 21.7 C Yes
Joël Teasdale 1999-03-11 21.6 LW Yes
Joni Ikonen 1999-04-14 21.6 C Yes
Josh Brook 1999-06-17 21.4 RD Yes
Nick Suzuki 1999-08-10 21.2 C Yes
Cayden Primeau 1999-08-18 21.2 G Yes
Jack Gorniak 1999-09-15 21.1 LW Yes
Jesse Ylönen 1999-10-03 21.1 RW Yes
Alexander Romanov 2000-01-06 20.8 LD Yes
Jacob Olofsson 2000-02-08 20.7 C Yes
Mattias Norlinder 2000-04-12 20.6 LD Yes
Cam Hillis 2000-06-24 20.4 C Yes
Jesperi Kotkaniemi 2000-07-06 20.3 C Yes
Jordan Harris 2000-07-07 20.3 LD Yes
Gianni Fairbrother 2000-09-30 20.1 LD Yes
Jacob LeGuerrier 2000-11-22 19.9 LD Yes
Cole Caufield 2001-01-02 19.8 RW Yes
Rhett Pitlick 2001-02-07 19.7 LW Yes
Frederik Dichow 2001-03-01 19.7 G Yes
Kieran Ruscheinski 2001-03-05 19.7 LD Yes
Jakub Dobes 2001-05-27 19.4 G Yes
Alexander Gordin 2001-07-31 19.3 RW Yes
Jayden Struble 2001-09-08 19.1 LD Yes
Sean Farrell 2001-11-02 19.0 LW Yes
Kaiden Guhle 2002-01-18 18.8 LD Yes
Luke Tuch 2002-03-07 18.7 LW Yes
Blake Biondi 2002-04-24 18.5 C Yes
Jan Mysak 2002-06-24 18.4 C Yes
Jack Smith 2002-07-06 18.3 C Yes

To determine the order, EOTP staff members were offered individual ballots, and two members of our community were chosen based on the number of comments that had been posted in our weekly prospect articles throughout the 2019-20 season, with past particpants and those with poor moderation histories passed over to find our selections. Joining 11 of our contributors on the voting panel are ‘be yours to hold it high’ (listed as “be yours“ for short on the series’ voting graphics) and Stefan70, whose ballots carried just as much weight in determining the order.

A final vote came from the hundreds of members who submitted a ballot. We received over 400 reponses this time around between staff and readers, so thank you to everyone who took the time to evaluate players and participate in the project.

I removed the 13 individual panellist ballots from the sample. From those that remained, I disregarded any ranks that went beyond the number a person said they had ranked (e.g. ranks 36-43 for someone who answered “35” for the length of their list).

After removing just two spoiled ballots, the result was 122 partial lists with at least 25 ranks and another 297 that ranked all 43 players (after one person wrote a number that was one less than the full list last year, this year the “cheeky vote” total reached five members, who answered “42”) for a total of 419 ballots to make up the EOTP submission. Ranks for each player were averaged across all ballots that had the player in question ranked, and those averages were sorted from lowest to highest to make the community vote.

The same procedure was ultimately used to determine the 2020 order from the 14 total ballots included.

If you didn’t save your list and would like to follow along as the players are revealed, make a request in the comments, and it will be sent to you.

Before we begin talking about the players in this year’s series, we will look back at the first 10 years of the project. We had ranked a total of 147 players over the first decade of the project, and we’ll see how we’ve done ranking the top 25 Montreal Canadiens under the age of 25 over that time.