It's August again, and Kings news has largely ground to a halt, so as part of our ongoing attempt to entertain and inform you, we present our second annual Top 25 Under 25 special.
The Top 25 Under 25, for those of you who missed last year's inaugural edition, is exactly what it sounds like - a countdown of the organisation's twenty-five most promising young prospects and players under age 25. The Kings are still one of the younger teams in the league, although they're not quite as fresh-faced and youthful as they have been in the recent past, with team management focusing on continuing the championship success, holding on to performance rather than potential. Now that the Cup has been re-captured, the Top 25 Under 25 is a good chance to look forward, take stock of what's in the pipeline, and re-evaluate the organisation's depth.
Aged-out graduates from last year's list include: Dwight King (woo), Jordan Nolan (boo), Keaton Ellerby (lol), and Jake Muzzin (dreamy sigh). Also no longer on the list are Linden Vey, Brandon Kozun, Nick Deslauriers, and Hudson Fasching, who were traded. The Kings chose not to sign Tomas Hyka and relinquished his rights.
41 players qualified, as listed below (with ages as of October 1, 2014, approximating the start of the regular season):
|Valentin Zykov||19||LW||QMJHL||RFA in '18|
|Nick Ebert||20||D||OHL||RFA in '18|
|Kurtis MacDermid||20||D||OHL||RFA in '18|
|Andrew Crescenzi||21||RW||AHL||RFA in '16|
|Michael Mersch||21||LW||Big-10||RFA in '18|
|Colin Miller||21||D||AHL||RFA in '17|
|Alex Roach||21||D||WHL||RFA in '17|
|Patrik Bartosak||21||G||WHL||RFA in '17|
|Scott Sabourin||22||RW||AHL||RFA in '17|
|Tanner Pearson||22||LW||NHL||RFA in '16|
|Tyler Toffoli||22||RW||NHL||RFA in '16|
|Maxim Kitsyn||22||LW||AHL/ECHL||RFA in '17|
|Nick Shore||22||C||AHL||RFA in '16|
|Jordan Weal||22||C||AHL||RFA in '16|
|Derek Forbort||22||D||AHL||RFA in '17|
|Kyle Clifford||23||LW||NHL||RFA in '16|
|Brayden McNabb||23||D||AHL||RFA in '17|
|Andy Andreoff||23||LW||AHL||RFA in '16|
|Jean-Francois Berube||23||G||AHL||RFA in '17|
|Drew Doughty||24||D||NHL||UFA in '20|
|Slava Voynov||24||D||NHL||UFA in '20|
|Martin Jones||24||G||NHL||RFA in '16|
|Nic Dowd||24||C||NCHC||RFA in '16|
Methodology & results
We expanded the voting pool quite a bit this year. In addition to most of the Jewels current staff (Robert, Eric, Nick, John, Andrew, Niesy, Robyn, and me), we also enlisted the awesome ladies of Kings podcast Thx Bud (Chanelle & Diane), retired/dead Battle of California Kings writer Rudy Kelly, current BoC Kings writer Ryan Dunn, Kings reporter for The Hockey Writers Sheng Peng, Kings guru at Hockey's Future & Hockey Buzz Jason Lewis, and trusty Kings Insider intern James Nicholson. Look at us, making friends and influencing people.
We each did our rankings using the same basic method taken from the Habs Eye on the Prize Top 25 Under 25, asking ourselves the questions: would you trade any player straight-up for any other one? Who is more valuable going forward to the team? If choosing between two players, who would you rather have from a pure talent perspective?
Despite the larger number of ballots, the votes were a little more concentrated this year. Last year, only three players (Dominik Kubalik, Zach Leslie, and Joel Lowry) out of 40 failed to get a vote. This year, Alec Dillon, Dominik Kubalik, Jake Marchment, Justin Auger, Kurtis MacDermid, Steven Johnson, and Joel Lowry all failed to garner a single vote, leading me to ask - seriously, what is a Joel Lowry?
The players who received votes but didn't make the Top 25, in descending order of popularity, are: Alex Roach, Maxim Kitsyn, Alex Lintuniemi, Paul LaDue, Andrew Crescenzi, Matthew Mistele, Scott Sabourin, Michael Amadio, and Jacob Middleton. Most of this isn't surprising - Lintuniemi, Mistele, Amadio, and Middleton are new draftees, LaDue was a
2013 2012 draftee who had a quiet 2013-14 season, Roach was an unheralded free agent signing who didn't make a huge mark on the WHL, and Crescenzi looks to be an AHL lifer - but the decline in Kitsyn's fortune is interesting to note. Formerly one of the Kings' most well-regarded prospects, Kitsyn continued his recent decline with an absolutely awful 2013-14 that included a demotion to the ECHL. While he may yet turn it around, he's looking like he's trending towards bust.
Well, this got dark.
Back to sunshine - our countdown kicks off Wednesday, with Nick's profile of Mystery Player #25. Until then, let us know what you think, share what your personal ranking would be, or defend Joel Lowry's honour in the comments. Get excited!!