Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 3, 2018, when the 2018-19 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our sixth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Appearing on the list at #15 is Drake Rymsha.
Age: 20 (August 6, 1998)
2017-18 Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2017-18 Statistics: 68 GP, 31 G, 42 A, 73 P (Playoffs: 12 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 P)
Jewels Reader Ranking: 14
Jewels Staff Ranking: 18
Last Year’s Ranking: 25
A stellar year with the Sarnia Sting helped propel center Drake Rymsha up our list of top prospects. After a rocky start to his juniors career — a broken femur derailed his 2015-16 campaign, and his 2016-17 season featured a requested trade out of Ottawa — Rymsha blossomed with Sarnia, putting up 33 points in 28 games after being traded there. The Kings liked what they saw in Rymsha’s development, despite the somewhat tumultuous path he took to get there, and drafted him in 2017.
Initially viewed as somewhat of a long-term project, his 25th-place ranking in last year’s Top 25 reflected the uncertainty about the new draft pick. Rymsha took his game up a notch in 2017-18, however, becoming one of the most exciting players to watch on the Sting. He was second in points on his team with 73 over 68 games; he was second only to the juggernaut that was St. Louis Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou, who put up 109 points in just 56 games.
Rymsha is a prospect who can combine high-end speed with physicality, and as his game has matured, he’s developed the scoring touch to go with it. He excels at getting to the net, and as we discovered in last year’s look at Rymsha, he was elite in terms of taking shots from high- or medium-danger areas.
And after signing his ELC in August, there’s the chance that Rymsha is going to have the chance to show us what he’s got at the professional level sooner than expected. As he’s already 20 years old, Rymsha is eligible to play in the AHL. While Rymsha could return to Sarnia for his overage season, signing him now give the Kings the flexibility to send him to the Ontario Reign.
A center by trade, Rymsha was voted by OHL coaches as the best face-off man in the Western Conference, and could help the Reign down the middle. From a player perspective, Rymsha doesn’t have much left to prove at the juniors level, and it may be better for his development to start competing at the next level.