Now that you’ve seen the Top 25 Under 25, it’s time to find out how we got here. Here’s how the voting went down:
Now that you’ve seen how we voted, here are some questions that arise.
Dewie, you had probably the most jarring pick with Logan Brown at 10th while everyone else had him 2nd or 3rd. Why are you so down on him as a prospect compared to everyone else?
Dewie: I know this isn’t the best way to judge a player but with Logan Brown I’ve always had this gut feeling that he just wasn’t going to pan out and I hope he proves me very wrong. My biggest concern with him is his injuries, he’s missed a good chunk of games with some pretty serious injuries particular to his hands, wrists (he’s also had a knee injury if I remember correctly). I also feel Brown would only flourish in a top-6 position and I don’t think he’s ready for it yet but getting stuck on 3/4 line won’t do him any good. I do like his size but I’ve read in multiple places that while he’s hard to separate from the puck, he’s not particularly good at using his size. I think Brown will be a serviceable player but I also think a few other players may be able to catch up and leap over him. Maybe 10 was too harsh but I just don’t have a lot of good feelings about Brown. Again I’m prepared to admit I was wayyy out of line if he wows us.
Spencer and Colin, people were very split on where to put Filip Gustavsson. You two were the two extremes. Colin, why do you think he’s only 12th? Spencer, why did you only have four players better than him?
Spencer: I did my best to weigh where the player currently is and then take a hard look at their projected floor and ceiling. I feel pretty confident in saying Gustavsson’s floor is probably fringe NHL starter where is ceiling is bonafide #1 goalie. For me, that outweighed the players directly behind him because he’ll be more important to the Ottawa Senators in the next few years than White, Wolanin, Ceci, Jaros and Formenton (the remainder of my top 10).
Colin: Projecting goalies is a difficult thing to do, from both an eye test and data perspective. I always try to temper my expectations with goalie prospects in general, and Gustavsson is no exception. Most goalies aren’t given the opportunity to enter the league until later compared to skaters, and just entering his 20-year-old season, plenty can change for Gus in just a couple years.
There’s only a very small handful of prospect netminders who I’d comfortably project as making the NHL (the list basically ends after Carter Hart and Ilya Samsonov), and although Gustavsson may be in the tier below for some, I think there’s some reason to dock him a bit further. He’ll be playing in front of one of the AHL’s worst defensive teams this season on Belleville, which proved to be too much for Marcus Hogberg, who posted a superior Sv% in the SHL prior to coming over (.932 vs .918). And although Gustavsson was named the top goaltender at the World Junior Championships, he’s not exactly keeping elite company (only one of the past nine winners is a current NHL starter).
Gustavsson is the best goalie prospect the Sens have had since Robin Lehner. That statement has often been used to give Gustavsson some hype, although I think we need to remember that we’re comparing him to Robin Lehner, who hasn’t exactly panned out as his hype would’ve indicated. While I really hope that Gustavsson can be the solution to the Sens’ goaltending woes, arguably the team’s most dire need, I don’t feel quite as comfortable pinning him with NHL potential as I do with some of the other skaters.
Ross, you were the only one with Marcus Hogberg in the Top 10. Do you think he should be a top-10 prospect on this team?
Ross: Yes, I do. I’m personally a little surprised that we’ve been so quick to drop him off our radar. I wouldn’t throw away several seasons of good SHL results because of one bad season for an awful AHL team that he spent half the time in the ECHL anyway. Like Colin said above, projecting goalies is hard. For that reason, I’d have both Hogberg and Gustavsson high on my list, because they’re both going to get ample opportunity to prove they can be the goalie of the future for this team. Even though Gustavsson is the shiny new toy, I don’t think we should sleep on Hogberg.
NKB, most of us were unimpressed by Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, but you had them the lowest at 11th and 21st respectively. Why are you so unimpressed by the players on this list with the most NHL games?
NKB: Each year, without fail, the trickiest part of filling out my ballot for the top 25 under 25 is deciding how to properly weight a player’s future potential against what they’ve already achieved in their career. After several years of this, I’ve settled on an uneasy answer: I’ll give more weight to players that seem to have a higher potential to be productive NHL players, not just guys who happen to play a couple hundred games in the league. Ceci, and to a lesser extent Harpur, have spent enough time in the league to be considered NHLers. I just don’t think either of them are helping the team win games. The ten players I ranked ahead of Ceci, and the twenty players I ranked ahead of Harpur, all seem to me to have a better chance of being “good” players in the NHL, not just guys who are collecting paycheques. Most of them probably won’t achieve that, but at least there’s a possibility they might. With Harpur and Ceci, I just think they’ve exhausted their potential for growth. They are who they are, and that’s just not really that good.
Ary, you had Sturtz at 21, one of only two staff writers to rank him at all. Do you think he deserves more consideration from the staff?
Ary: Sturtz at 22, for me, was more about where he’s at in his pro game -- he’s ready to make an impact at the AHL level now -- and his potential (a winger on L3 or L4) being higher than those I ranked below him. I’m uncertain about Gruden (24 for me; 22 for everyone), think that this is it for Paul (23 for me; 19 for everyone), wonder about Daccord’s sign-ability (25 for me; 24 for everyone), and don’t think Englund has NHL potential at all (unranked for me; 23 for everyone).
Colin, it also stands out that you put Colin White at 7th. Is there any reason you aren’t impressed by the only Sens prospect who shares your name?
Colin: If there’s one forward prospect on this list that I think most safely projects to be an NHLer, it’s Colin White. I ranked him 7th, because I don’t think his ceiling is as high as others might think. He has the two-way ability to keep up with the big league, although his offensive creativity is pretty limited. He likes to score his goals in tight, often picking up rebounds or loose pucks right in front of the goalie -- something we’ve seen from him since the World Juniors and in Boston College. That said, he’s still my 4th ranked forward, and I think he has a decent chance to make the team out of camp. Filip Chlapik scored at a higher rate than him last season, and Logan Brown and Brady Tkachuk were both top picks in their respective drafts, so I don’t think my ranking of White was too out-of-the-ordinary.
Dewie, you were the only one to rank Julius Bergman. Are you surprised he was on no one else’s lists?
Dewie: Yes a little, I also went way out with that pick and I know it. But I tried reading up about him and it seems Sharks fans were really excited about him before he had a sudden drop. I am hoping a change of scenery brings back the potential that Sharks once saw in him. Also karma for Hoffman?
Brandon, you were the only one to have Andreas Englund in the Top 20, while many writers left him off completely. Do you still have hope for his NHL career?
Brandon: I think people are giving up on this kid way too early. They look at him and say “Oh, he was a second-round pick four years ago? He must be a bust if he’s not in the NHL by now!”, that’s just not the case.
Englund has only played two seasons in Belleville, but his development is on an upward trajectory. Granted, he posted only 10 points in each of those seasons, but he is beginning to mature as a player. He went from 82PIMS to 69, and his +/- improved from -18 to -4 on B-Sens teams that were equally horrendous.
I’m not saying Englund is going to be another Thomas Chabot, but I think if he continues this promising trend of settling down and getting smarter, aided by the coaching of Troy Mann, he could still end up being a key cog in Ottawa’s defensive machine.
Think Anton Volchenkov-levels of production, though maybe without the obscene amount of blocked shots. A solid stay-at-home guy who scores the odd goal every now and then.
Don’t sleep on this kid, give him some time. We’ve seen what rushing players’ development can do (Lazar, Ceci, etc.)
Ross, you had Jonathan Gruden at 15, the only one to put him in the Top 20. What do you know that the rest of us don’t?
Ross: Nothing, really. I probably had him too high, but there’s really no one I had below him that I’m excited about. He’s far from a lock to make the NHL, but his higher potential than basically anyone below him is why I put him very high on my list.
B_T and Beata, all of your picks were within 2 of where they ended up. Any secrets to why you’re so good at predicting groupthink?
Beata: To be completely honest, it’s probably because I personally don’t pay that much attention to prospects so most of what I know about them, I heard from these people.
Brad: Like Beata, I don’t follow prospects that closely so most of my information comes from the Silver Seven staff. For the more known players, I guess I don’t get overly excited or overly down on them?
Everyone, were there any rankings that surprised you? Who do you think was too high or too low?
Beata: There weren’t any huge surprises and I agree with all the rankings, but I kind of expected Cody Ceci to be higher. I thought other people would give him extra points for having NHL experience, but I guess most people agreed with me that we know what he’s capable of at this point and it’s not particularly impressive.
Spencer: I personally didn’t rank Nick Paul so I’m surprised to see where he ranked. It might have been because I watched Paul struggle to make an impact at the AHL level for 50+ games last season. When trying to tank everyone, I just thought that all of the players I included in my top 25 would have a bigger impact if given Paul’s minutes in Belleville, even those who aren’t eligible to play in the AHL yet.
Ary: Not really! I’m actually pleasantly surprised that everyone seems to think highly of Wolanin, and I guess a late season cup of coffee in the NHL will do that for a prospect.
Ross: I’m mostly surprised how similar the reader votes were to the writers’. Normally I think the readers are higher on guys like Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur than the staff, but I guess years of ragging on them has finally worn down public opinion. I was also surprised people were so high on Drake Batherson - yes, he’s looked good, but I’m always skeptical of overage draftees.
Dewie: I’m honestly surprised with Logan Brown being so high. I know we don’t like Ceci and Harpur (I actually like him) but yeah agreed with B on expecting them to get more credit with their NHL experience but maybe it’s their experience that makes us even less excited for them.
Brandon: I was a bit surprised to see Logan Brown above Colin White. I see White as the better player between those two, but I understand why people would think otherwise. I personally don’t see White any lower than the Top-9 this year, and Brown any higher than the Bottom-6. As far as too high, I still need to see more from Brady Tkachuk before I put him in the Top-5. I think he’s going to end up being a really good player for Ottawa, but I still have my reservations about that pick.
NKB: Besides my earlier comments about Ceci and Harpur, I was a bit surprised by how low Tkachuk was on most people’s lists. I was pretty vocal about wanting the Sens to take Zadina ahead of Tkachuk, and I still believe they erred in that choice, but Tkachuk is a legitimate prospect and the Sens don’t have a tonne of those. Colin White, for instance, was higher on almost everyone else’s list and I just don’t see him with the same potential as Tkachuk.
Colin: Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that Brady Tkachuk ended up at #4, with less than half of the votes putting him in the top three. Most scouts, even the more statistically inclined ones, have agreed that Tkachuk instantly became the Sens’ best prospect. While I don’t quite think he was worthy of being picked where he was in the draft, and am personally soft on the point of ranking him above Logan Brown, I thought the argument for having at #2 would’ve been much stronger.
B_T: Wolanin. He definitely earned a big jump in the list, but he feels a rank or two too high to me.
Everyone, is there anyone you would re-rank now, seeing how the final list turned out?
Beata: Well seeing as the final list is pretty similar to my own, I think I’m pretty happy with my ranking!
Spencer: My rankings, with the exception of Paul, were pretty close to the team rankings. I would be interested to hear from the readers why there seems to be a flip-flop between S7 writers and readers when it comes to Chlapik and Batherson. The writers have Chlapik at 5 and Batherson at 9, whereas the readers have Batherson at 5 and Chlapik at 10. Colour me intrigued!
Ary: I’d probably rank Wolanin sixth on my rankings (I had him ninth), and move Formenton into ninth, leaving Ceci at 10. Formenton’s going to have a big year in London, and is already a lock for the Canadian WJC team.
Ross: I’d put Jonathan Gruden lower, but other than that, I’m happy with my picks.
Dewie: Not really only because I’m not an expert on prospects and it’ll be interesting to see how off I am. Also with prospects, things tend to take all kinds of directions. Remember when we thought Cowen was the next Chara? Or Brian Lee? Excuse me, I think there’s something burning my eyes.....
Brandon: Looking back, I think I would have Nick Paul in the Top-20. I had him ranked at 21, but I think he deserves to be two or three spots higher.
NKB: I voted fairly late in the process so I had pretty well everyone’s grades in front of me when I made my choices, but I might have moved Francis Perron even higher up the list with the benefit of a bit more thought. Perron had a disappointing first season as a pro, but he’s got a lot of the tools needed to be a successful NHLer.
Colin: Similar to Ary, I’d probably bump up Formenton another spot or two. His performance at the World Junior Summer Showcase was very promising, and he could potentially be closer to the NHL than we think. I might’ve also been a bit too nice to Christian Jaros, as much as I like his game.
B_T: Maybe shuffle Batherson, Formenton and Jaros? Had a hard time putting those three in order, but in the end I’m still pretty happy with the order I put them in.
And just for fun, here’s a look at how similar everyone’s rankings were (smaller numbers are more similar):