Neil Greenberg of ESPN caused a little ruckus last season when his list of the top 25 players under 25 was released without the name John Tavares on it (21 years old then, 22 now). While he wasn’t all that high on the NHL Scoring Leaders List at the time (he wasn’t exactly low on it, either), he ended with the 7th most points in the league, yet didn’t crack the list – names like Brian Little held him back.
Needless to say, it was time to release the
Kraken outrage for the hockey community. There are plenty of lists out there that folks slough off, but this is ESPN stuff (and before you reflexively trash ESPN hockey, the print side – Greenberg, Lebrun, Burnside, Custance, Strang, and more – are excellent). Folks wanted an explanation.
A lot of the reason Tavares didn’t make the cut was because Greenberg’s list has a certain set of protocol, most notably that it’s the top 25 players under 25 years old in the NHL…based purely on past performance in the NHL. (Neil came on the Backhand Shelf Podcast to explain this by the way, and did a good job.) You needed years to accrue proof that you’re NHL-quality.
Because of that, you sort of end up with a list that’s The 25 Oldest Good Players That Aren’t Yet 25, because some of them have had six years to compile NHL accomplishments, while a guy like Gabriel Landeskog, one of the notables left off the list this season, has not.
I think to most of us – and I could be wrong here (but so rarely am) – consider the Top 25 Players Under 25 as the guys who, if their sticks were all thrown in the middle to be picked up by NHL GMs in a draft today, would be the guys who get taken, and in that order. Which is to say, Tyler Seguin’s stick gets picked up before his teammate Brad Marchand’s does. Logan Couture most assuredly does not see his stick chosen third, etc, etc. I want to know if my team has one of the 25 best players under 25 going forward, which is the direction time progresses. Read the rest of this entry »