Brian Lee, we hardly knew ye.
What's that they say about the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men?
Originally, this number 17 spot on our Top 25 players under 25 list was supposed to be occupied by none other than Brian Lee, the much-maligned player who, despite his best efforts, couldn't fulfill the wishes of a disappointed fanbase and transmogrify into Anze Kopitar. God bless him for trying, though.
With him now bumped off the list, let's look at a few players who, for some reason or another, didn't quite make the cut.
Cowick is a big kid who's not afraid to throw his weight around, and he showed it in this past year's rookie camp with the Senators. He hasn't yet proven himself to be a point-producer at the pro level, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL over the past two seasons trying to find the scoring touch that made him so popular with the Ottawa 67's. He might, eventually, turn into a fourth-liner in the NHL, but right now he seems to have quite a bit of work to do on his game with the puck. He was drafted in the sixth round (160 overall) of the 2009 draft.
Culek's an interesting prospect for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is his 6'4" frame. He's been playing in North America for three seasons now, but none have been as strong as his 47-point rookie season--the one which directly preceded his being drafted by the Senators in the third round (76 overall) of the 2010 entry draft. His size should be advantageous, and he plays a two-way game that would look good in the NHL, but he's still a ways away from putting it all together into an NHL-calibre package. He'll need time in the AHL, perhaps even ECHL, before getting an NHL shot.
## / Left Wing / Ottawa Senators
Oct 6, 1989
One of Bryan and Tim Murray's unconventionally-acquired prospects, Dziurzynski joined the Sens out of the BCHL, a junior "A" league that's a level below the CHL. Dziurzynski is yet another big player, and he's spent the last two seasons with the Binghamton Senators, scoring 14G and 25A in 133GP. He's not a scorer, that's obvious, but he was brought on board to offer depth for the B-Sens. He's got a lot of work to do before getting an NHL opportunity, and for now he looks like little more than an AHL depth player.
Of all the players on this list, Gryba may be the closest to earning a spot in the NHL. Yet another big player, this time on defence, and one who can throw monstrously punishing hits. He's severely cut down him penalty minutes in the AHL this season, and has more than doubled his offensive totals from last year. He'll never be a point-producer in the NHL, but he could very well come on board as a third-pairing defenceman who can kill penalties in a pinch. His mobility remains an issue, though, and Gryba's skating will have to improve is he's going to stick in the NHL with any level of security.
Those are just a few of the prospects who've missed the cut on our Top 25 listing (the top portion of which will continue to be revealed in the coming days). Which of these players are you most optimistic about?