We unsurprisingly concluded our most recent Top 25 under 25 rankings with epic megastud Erik Karlsson this week, but just because he was unanimous doesn't mean the rest of the rankings were. We started the whole process back in July, and began publishing in August--which gave us all plenty of time to reflect on our own choices and stew with burning anger over each other's obvious wrongness. That meant it was time to reconvene and talk about what happened. Who were the outliers? What were we all thinking? Let's find out.
But first, here are everyone's rankings:
(click to enlarge)
Out of that came questions. Questions that must be asked. So they were. And now, welcome to Thunderdome!
1) Peter: You were the only one to rank Chris Wideman, and at 17 had him over guys like Jarrod Maidens and Shane Prince. You stand alone here. What did you see that makes you like Wideman so much?
Yes, my vote for Wideman stands out; placing him at 17 while no one else even had him in the top 25 seems like a pretty big leap on my part. I can't claim any insider knowledge on his chances or anything, but he's stricken me as a consistent and reliable defender who might be able to replicate the success that Andre Benoit had last season. His small stature is definitely going to make it difficult, but a full college tenure seems like something he could use to his advantage.
2) Bobby: You, Mark, and Amelia were the only people to rank Jakub Culek. Why are you guys smarter than everyone else?
Admission: I actually ranked Culek higher than he might deserve, hoping it might land him a spot. Evidently, I didn't beat the system. Culek had a weird year this past season. He played decently in Bingo during training camp, but was bumped from a roster swollen by NHL-caliber talent. Then he was reassigned to Rimouski, who never had room for the overaged import player. After twiddling his thumbs for far too long of the QMJHL season, Rimouski sent him to Cape Breton. The saga didn't end there because after only nine games, Culek was sidelined the remainder of the years with an injury. Though sitting on the sidelines isnt exactly a productive place for a prospect, I retain some hope Culek is the kind of player he was at Bingo training camp last year. Who's that player? A fluid skating, two-way defensive specialist, with passable offensive tools. Almost, you could say, a puck possession type of player who could offer serviceable skills on a future bottom-six or, at the least, add to a growing surplus of such players. And who makes good use of those kinds of players? Paul MacLean. So, I am sadly forced to conclude that our fellow writers hate Paul MacLean and want him fired. Only possible explanation, sad as it makes me.
3) Mullet: You were the only one to rank Wacey Hamilton, putting him at #25. You just picked him at random to finish your list, right?
Wacey and I go way back: https://twitter.com/
36hambone/status/ 353695093712093185 and https:/ /twitter.com/BonksMullet/ status/353721850926346241
4) Dave and Ryan: You guys both chose to rank Chris Dreidger and Francois Brassard, putting them in the high 20's--even after Marcus Hogberg made all the noise at development camp. I sense Canadian xenophobia. Confirm/deny?
Ryan: Deny. I ranked Robin Lehner higher than Kyle Turris. I left off Hogberg after seeing him in his first development camp scrimmage where he was awful. And we all know true professionals rank prospects based on one game.
[Dave declined to answer. How xenophobic.]
5) Darren: Do you even realize you had Curtis Lazar at 6?
In hindsight, this is a bit of a head scratcher. Part of the problem is figuring out where to draft recent high picks against players like Patrick Wiercioch and Cory Conacher who have NHL experience but lack Lazar's draft position and pedigree. Yes, the ranking is high, but there's something about Lazar's style of play that I really seem to like, which probably gave him a better ranking than he deserved.
6) All: After going through the whole ranking and writeup process, is there anyone you'd rank differently now that you've had time to reflect?
Peter: Well, I'd probably drop Wideman down a bit, since I'm well alone on that front. And after reading more about Shane Prince, I think I'd move him up from 19 (where I ranked him) to the mid- to low-teens. I'll tell you one vote I would note change, though: Jean-Gabriel Pageau. I thought ranking him 10 was generous, but it turns out I'm the most cynical of all staff about his chances; I just think he's still got a lot to prove, despite last season's playoff heroics.
Mark: No way. I'm with you on that, Peter. My favorite Pageau stat: 70% of his points came in just 15% of his games. In other words, he has just 3 points in his other 16 games. That's the kind of production that gets people calling for Z. Smith to enjoy some Double Downs in the press box. Ultimately, I ranked Pageau 7th because he's actually played in the NHL while guys like Lazar and Cody Ceci haven't, but I think we're blinding ourselves to the warning signs a bit. I think Cory Conacher is getting knocked for a lot of the same things we might see from Pageau over a full season.
Ryan: Matt Puempel. In retrospect, 7 may have been a little off. Probably should've gone 1st.
Mullet: No. I've never made a mistake.
Darren: I generally find it's best not to reflect on these sort of things. We're all going to be wrong with our projections.
Adnan: Too lazy to reflect, but I assume all my picks are great. All 25 of my guys were in the overall 25.
7) All: On this list, who do you think is most likely to have the biggest drop not due to turning 25? (For purposes of cutting off lame answers, consider not being named to be 26th, so Dziurzynski would only drop 1 spot if he did not make next year's list.)
Adnan: Da Costa will probably have the biggest drop as it is unlikely he will get a shot in the NHL this year barring significant injuries.
Bobby: Andre Petersson is a pretty long way from a roster spot, I think. If he has a fantastic camp and positions himself as a future call-up and there are some big holes in the top-six, he'll have a shot. Not looking too likely at this point.
Darren: Da Costa or Petersson. They are players the organization who weren't able to find roster spots when there were spots available and are now falling down the depth chart, unfortunately.
Mullet: I think it's most likely to be one of the fringe-NHLers. Someone like Da Costa are likely to get a shot on the NHL roster at some point during the season, and it may be his last chance to make an impression.
Ryan: Andre Petersson. Assuming he's even kept around (his contract expires after this season), I can't see him staying in the top 25. I'd love to be wrong.
Mark: Another vote for Petersson here. I think there's a slim chance Stephane Da Costa could stick around waiting for a shot, like Andre Benoit. But I don't see a future for Petersson. I bet he's playing in Europe next season.
Peter: For me, it's a toss-up between Derek Grant and Jarrod Maidens. With Grant, I feel like this might be his last, best chance to really get some NHL games under his belt; his ELC is up after this year, and he'll have to prove a lot in order to get a one-way deal for next season. Maidens, on the other hand, is in a tough spot due to his extremely long concussion recovery. How badly has that process set back his development? Will he be anywhere near as effective as he was before the injury?
[Sadly, Peter wrote this 13 days ago.]
8) All: Call-out time! What ranking do you think a fellow staff member simply got wrong?
Peter: Although one might expect Bobby to have the most intelligent votes of anyone, I've got to know why he didn't even rank Fredrik Claesson in his top 25. Was there something about his play in his first North American season that raised flags in your mind? Considering how close he already is to the NHL, I think he's got a better shot at it than a lot of guys ahead of him on your list.
Bobby: Not the point of this exercise since there's a different question for this, but I think the biggest bonehead move was indeed me keeping Claesson off. I haven't loved his game in Bingo, but he has decent upside and is entitled to a transition period. I'd feel dumber if he'd been kept off the lost entirely, but it turned out to be a victimless omission, I just look like a bit of a boob. Business as usual for a guy whose name looks like Booby.
Mark: Darren ranked Buddy Robinson at 22 and Dave Dziurzynski at 20. Darren likes BIG BODY PRESENCE. Darren loves Matt Kassian. Probably.
Darren: All the other idiots around here underrate Curtis Lazar.
Adnan: Ryan ranking Matt Puempel #7 at this point in time was puzzling to me.
Mullet: Adnan's ongoing pro-Sweden campaign is on full display as he ranks Andre Petersson at 23rd overall. I'm also under the impression that Darren is higher on Curtis Lazar than Justin Trudeau on 4/20.
Ryan: Everyone but Dave and myself for not ranking a single goaltender. We all know Lehner is the king of the system, but not ranking any of the other goaltenders at all? Ridiculous.
Bonus: Adnan's true name revealed!
Mullet: I just tried to send a reply from [my email account] and it failed.
Mark: This is the problem with pseudonyms.
Mullet: Looking at you, Adnan. Why can't you just go by your real name, Gord?
Ryan: Gord Ahmad.
So, there you have it. What do you think of our rankings? Agree? Disagree? What does your top 25 look like?
This pretty much concludes the offseason portion of our program. Come Monday, we'll start turning our eyes towards the 2013-14 season. It has been an extremely turbulent summer for the Ottawa Senators, and soon we will be talking about hockey instead of contracts and hurt feelings. It's going to be awesome, like Quentin Shore.