Top 25 under 25, no. 16: Shane Prince

That guy in blue is Shane Prince - Bruce Bennett

Shane Prince fell down a couple of spots in our rankings since the winter as other players made successful NHL debuts and some other prospects were brought in. Still, after a positive rookie season with the Binghamton Senators, Prince still has a good chance of making his NHL debut this season or next.

In our most recent Top 25 rankings, Shane Prince ranked 14 among young players. This is what Dave said about him at the time:

"[Prince] may yet be a few years away, but with the cerebral playmaking ability and offensive talent he has shown thus far in his career, Senators fans should certainly be excited about the fact that he is continuing to learn and grow in the Ottawa system."

Although a couple of the players ranked ahead of him have been dealt (Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen), Prince still fell two spots in our rankings and lands at 16 this season. The main reason for that was the successful NHL debuts of a few players who had ranked behind him and a couple of newly-acquired youngsters with more upside than Prince. But that doesn't mean we've soured on the kid; he's simply still in need of some development before we know whether or not he can transition to the NHL game.

Prince made his professional debut last season in Binghamton, notching 35P (18G, 17A) in 65GP, good enough for third on the team in scoring. As one would expect, he made up for a slow start (12P in the first 30GP) with a strong finish (25P in the final 35GP), likely corresponding with increased ice time once the NHL lockout ended, increased comfort at the pro level, and more confidence built off the other two.

The future looks bright for Prince, as well. He's likely to be a top-line offensive winger for Binghamton, which will set him up for another step forward in his development. It's worth noting that although his first two OHL seasons were unspectacular, Prince broke out in in years three and four, putting up a 1.53 point-per-game average--he might be a player who takes a little while to get comfortable at a given level of play, but once he gets there, he can put up extremely good offensive numbers.

On top of a leadership role on Binghamton, Prince will likely be among the first injury call-ups for Ottawa if the team needs an offensive boost this season--he's definitely one of the top options, alongside likely linemates Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone. Don't be surprised if he makes his NHL debut at some point this season, at which point we'll get a better idea of whether his production can translate to the big league.

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