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Jewels from the Crown's Second Annual Top 25 Under 25

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there is no way this kid is 18. he looks like my older white brother.
there is no way this kid is 18. he looks like my older white brother.
Jeff Zelevansky

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.

Overview

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.

Qualifying players

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):

Name Age Position League Contract status
Adrian Kempe 18 RW SHL unsigned
Jacob Middleton 18 D OHL unsigned
Spencer Watson 18 RW OHL unsigned
Matthew Mistele 18 LW OHL unsigned
Alec Dillon 18 G BCHL unsigned
Roland McKeown 18 D OHL unsigned
Dominik Kubalik 19 LW OHL unsigned
Valentin Zykov 19 LW QMJHL RFA in '18
Jake Marchment 19 C OHL unsigned
Michael Amadio 19 C OHL unsigned
Alex Lintuniemi 19 D OHL unsigned
Justin Auger 20 RW OHL unsigned
Nick Ebert 20 D OHL RFA in '18
Zachary Leslie 20 D OHL unsigned
Kurtis MacDermid 20 D OHL RFA in '18
Steven Johnson 20 D USHL unsigned
Jonny Brodzinski 21 C NCHC unsigned
Andrew Crescenzi 21 RW AHL RFA in '16
Michael Mersch 21 LW Big-10 RFA in '18
Nikolay Prokhorkin 21 LW KHL ???!!!???
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
Joel Lowry 22 LW ECAC unsigned
Nick Shore 22 C AHL RFA in '16
Jordan Weal 22 C AHL RFA in '16
Derek Forbort 22 D AHL RFA in '17
Kevin Gravel 22 D NCHC unsigned
Paul LaDue 22 D NCHC unsigned
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!!