Over at The Copper & Blue, the guys like to head into each season with a list of their best 25 players under 25 years old, with the intention of learning about the team's prospects and also getting an idea of which ones are worth keeping an eye on. We could go all the way to 25, presumably, but it seems a little bit exhaustive considering the depth of the Winnipeg Jets' prospect system. It also gets a hell of a lot more unsure and arbitrary when you get into the 20s. So for those reasons, I want to suggest a Top 10, but yield the floor afterward to the AIH community to provide their own lists. The vote at the bottom will be whether you agree with my list, and if you answer "no" please give me yours. After I get a number of responses, I'll toss my list into the other lists provided and create a composite list. Follow after the jump for criteria.
Generally, I think we should consider a few rules of thumb for determining our top 10:
- Demonstrated skill - in other words, a combination of how the player has looked on the ice and the results (read: statistics) they've recorded
- Upside - the player's potential, or how much greater you envision their skill set to be in the future, and how playable that will be in the NHL...frequently expressed as a "surefire 1st liner", or "top 6 forward", or "2nd-pairing defenceman", etc.
- League Experience - This one should always be kept in mind. NHL > AHL = Europe > ECHL/OHL/WHL/QMJHL/USHL Great achievement at one level should always be kept in the context that it should not be equated with success at higher levels. Even with very basic league equivalencies employed, Bryan Little's 46 points was equivalent-to-better than any CHL player - and keep in mind we know Little is a competent player at evens, which we would not yet know about any given CHL player.
With that set of criteria in mind, here are my top 10 under 25 (age determined using the start of the season, October 13):
- Evander Kane - Do I even need to explain?
- Zach Bogosian - He is really developing into an every-minutes, top-pairing defenceman. The only thing standing in the way of that is Dustin Byfuglien, and he's really big and hard to move.
- Bryan Little - As mentioned above, he demonstrates great possession hockey, and had he taken 50 more shots last season he very likely would have another 30-goal season under his belt.
- Alexander Burmistrov - The potential's there, the evens play is there, but I just can't put him ahead of Little yet.
- Paul Postma - Great offensive potential, and I'm excited at the possibility of seeing it at the NHL level.
- Zach Redmond - Is my slip showing? Honestly, though, I have been familiar with Redmond's game for a couple of years now, and his fluidity and sturdy play in his own zone never fail to impress me. I think he can be a plus player offensively, if he could get the chance.
- Jacob Trouba - I don't think it's too premature to say that Trouba is our best prospect under 20. He didn't just show up Scheifele in camp; he was all over, and his skill-set looks like a carbon copy of Zach Bogosian.
- Mark Scheifele - I'm not as bullish as others here and elsewhere about Scheif's potential; I'm still seeing the limitations to his game, particularly the skating and the strength, that just have not developed yet. I'm skeptical that he'll play (comfortably) at much bigger than 205 down the road, and skating is not always essential for a guy that is more playmaker than sniper, two-way forward than offensive forward.
- Ivan Telegin - I'm really excited to see what Telegin can do at The Rock, because I like his skill-set better than Scheifele's. On the other hand, Scheif's got an extra year of development behind Telegin, so he gets the edge on potential.
- Carl Klingberg - This is where I really see our upside tailing off. I'd love to say that Klingberg has 2nd-line upside, but that's being very, very optimistic. He can be a great, dynamic plugger at the 3rd line, and he fits among the great plugging forwards that didn't quite make the list, observable below.
We've seen a lot of fresh blood in the Development Camp, so those are probably still impressing upon my mind, but I had to fight that and not lose sight of the fact that most of those guys are pretty far away from a Cormier or a Klingberg. That said, Lowry's camp was so strong, as has been his play in the WHL, that he's gained admittance to our sizable 3rd-line NHL pantheon.
So, now it's your turn. You can either agree with what I have up there, or give us your own Top 10. Then, I can bring all of them together for a fresh post with a composite Top 10 that I want keep on a sidebar for the site. Chat away.