Our seventh 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 and the staff rankings to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 2, 2019, when the 2019-20 NHL season begins.
Carl Grundstrom was an unexpected delight in the midst of a very miserable season. To recap: along with the NHL rights to Sean Durzi, Grundstrom came over in the Jake Muzzin trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It didn’t take him long to make an impact with the Ontario Reign.
While he was down in the AHL, Grundstrom collected three goals and seven points in 13 games. When he was recalled on March 9th, it was a debut better than any Los Angeles Kings fan probably ever really expected (hoped for is a different story).
Expectations were already met on night one. It couldn’t get any better on night two, right? Well...
All told, he scored five goals in 15 NHL games. He’s shown a propensity to go to the so-called “dirty” areas and has shown flashes of great goal scoring ability. This season, coaches and management will be keeping a critical eye on his growth as a player. That is, can he score more consistently and do so without letting it affect his defense? (For some reason, this organization is still hopped up on the idea of “traditional” D-Fence in order to prevent goals against; this is pretty evident with their hiring of Todd McLellan.)
The Swedish connection with Adrian Kempe really seemed to pay off. Small sample sizes and all, but the line of Grundstrom-Kempe-Tyler Toffoli was one of the more exciting ones to watch. It was havoc and chaos and goal scoring potential in all the best ways.
It’ll be really interesting to see what McLellan does with his lines next season. How will he utilize not-actually-a-center Kempe? Will Grundstrom switch wings a lot? Will he play with Anze Kopitar? All questions to be answered, but no matter what, his future with the Kings seems to be very bright.
For more on Grundstrom, read about him in our Season in Review.
And now, for a look at the voting.
As with everyone else, the votes were all over the place. With the influx of new talent such as Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev, it wasn’t clear where and how to rank the kids under 25. Even the writers couldn’t decide, with one person ranking him as low as 18th. On the flip side, the majority of readers thought he should at least be in the top-14.