Our Top 25 Under 25 countdown has easily become one of the most anticipated EOTP events. In a “normal” year, it would begin in July with a smooth transition into development camp and straight into the new season.
This year, it started in November and is transitioning into who knows what.
The top 10 prospects will kick off on Monday, but before we get to that, here’s a quick recap of whom we’ve seen so far.
Before going face-first into the countdown, you first need to understand how the list is actually created and how the voting took place. This year there were 43 players who needed to be ranked — the lowest number of players since 2017.
Can you believe we’ve been doing the T25U25 for a decade?! In those 10 year, 147 players have been ranked. We take a look back at the history, notable facts, and who was top of the leaderboard.
Next we dove into who is no longer eligible (old farts), who left the organization (traitors), and the eight newcomers (babies), all of whom came from the 2020 NHL Draft.
Our countdown began with the Long Shots. These players ranked the lowest in votes, even though there may be cases for some who should have at least made it into the Projects category.
The Projects are prospects who are still considered a long shot but there’s a bit more optimism for this group, with some players who landed in the 35-31 range making an appearance at past development camps.
On the outside looking in, are the Near Misses. These players may have displayed some NHL qualities, but their weaknesses were more prominent, so they couldn’t crack the Top 25.
Kicking off the Top 25 was Jacob Olofsson. After making his debut at #21 in 2018, then climbing two spots the following year, Olofsson had one of largest ranges among the 43 players involved in this project this year, barely making the cut.
The voting for Luke Tuch was pretty much low-to-mid 20s with two votes coming in at #29 and #30. Tuch is heading to the NCAA, so it’ll be interesting to see how those votes swing when the freshman competes against more experienced high-end forwards.
The Finnish defenceman Otto Leskinen came in strong in his first appearance in the T25U25 last year, landing at #22. This year he dropped one spot, with a divided range of votes going from #17 to #36. His small drop may have something to do with the fact that the defence pipeline is getting pretty full rather than his actual performance.
Despite bouncing around the leagues a lot last season, like a lot, Michael McNiven still managed to impress us enough to make the Top 25. He’ll still have at least one more chance to prove his worth in the gaggle of goaltenders that Montreal currently has backlogged.
After being selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft, Sean Farrell almost cracked the top 20 in his first appearance in the countdown. As with most of the voting to this point, there wasn’t much consensus on where Farrell should land, but coming in at #21 shows that there’s some optimism about his future with the organization, and his start to the 2020-21 season has only reinforced that.
The Canadiens have had their eye on Brett Stapley since 2017 after he displayed an offensively impressive season in the British Columbia Hockey League. However, by the time he came up on the Habs list, they had run out of picks. If he continues with his progression and point-per-game mark, a contract may very well be waiting for him at the end of the season.
This is Cam Hillis’s third year in the T25U25, and his first year not only making the Top 25 but breaking into the top 20. The votes for Hillis were actually the most even up to that point in the voting, with most panellists having him in the late teens or early 20s. After an 83-point season in the OHL, he’ll be heading to Laval this season.
In his first year of eligibility, Jan Myšák impressively skipped the top 25 bit altogether and went straight into top 20 territory, making him this year’s second-highest-ranked rookie. Barring any major setbacks, Myšák’s climb should continue onwards and upwards.
For the second consecutive year, Lukas Vejdemo came in at #17 and was our first unanimous Top 25 inclusion. Vejdemo proved that he can be counted on during his 47 AHL games with the Laval Rocket, and after making his NHL debut ... and notching his first NHL goal.
Jordan Harris continues to rise in the rankings year after year, starting at #30, tying at #25 last year, and then making his way to the top 20 this year after finishing his sophomore year as the second-highest scoring defender on his team, and in the top six overall.
Jayden Struble may be one of the most underrated Habs prospects right now, but the voting was the most unanimous up to this point.
After a tough first year with the Rocket, Josh Brook took a little slip from #11 in last year’s rankings to #14 this year. Brook is set to start the 2020-21 season in Germany working on his development, so perhaps we’ll see him slide forward next year instead of back.
In the spot that starts separating the top prospects from the “not quite there yet” prospects, #13 goes to Jesse Ylönen. There are still many unknowns surrounding him, which is probably the reason why he had the largest range for a top-20 player, with votes swinging from #24 to #6 for the winger.
Despite having crappy, crappy luck these past couple of seasons, Noah Juulsen still managed to hover around the same number that he’s used to. It was a mixture of votes for the defenceman as people were divided between remembering the prospect we witnessed three years ago with the injury-plagued one of today.
Cale Fleury continues to rise. Starting at #25 after being drafted 87th overall in 2017 to coming in at #11 just three years later. If this heavy-hitter continues with his progression, we could easily see him crack the top 10 next year.
So, who’s left? Bring on the top 10!