Not all positions are created equal on the Top 25 Under 25.
With so much movement, including graduation, trades, and expiration of contracts, sometimes when the people around you in the countdown leave en masse, you need to make a big gain in the countdown just to keep your placement consistent.
So when we say that 2010 2nd rounder Brad Ross has held steady at #20, that isn't the compliment it appears to be at first blush.
Last summer, Ross was also our choice at 20th, and of the 19 names that we put ahead of him, six have either graduated by turning 25 or have moved on from the Leaf organization. Two brand new names have entered the countdown ahead of Ross, which means that for Ross to have maintained at 20th, at least four players that we ranked behind him last time would have done enough in the last season to have passed him by. For Ross, now 21 years old and entering his second season as a professional, that does not bode well.
It should be pointed out that much of our apparent pessimism with respect to Ross comes down to the fact that he simply didn't get opportunities to succeed last season. With the lockout taking away several lineup spots in the AHL, Ross, unlike other rookies on the fringe of the Marlies lineup, spent much of the year in the pressbox instead of in the ECHL.
When Ross did get into the lineup, he didn't look out of place, but the mix of offence and agitation that was the hallmark of his WHL career with the Portland Winterhawks did not fully treanslate, registering just 11 points in the 40 games he played. Ross was one of the youngest Marlies regulars, and Ross certainly wouldn't be the first player to score at an impressive clip in junior and have to change his role to survive in the professional ranks.
The Marlies ongoing youth movement should afford Ross with more opportunities to succeed next season, if he is able to secure a more prominent role. If he can do so, and can start to show himself capable of having a future as an NHLer, he can start working his way back up our countdown.
Ross' rankings are a little bit all over the place. with four votes inside the Top 20, three more votes in the Top 25 and the final two votes in the Top 30. Of the six returning voters, Ross fell one vote on two lists, dropped three votes on two more, dropped seven on one list and moved up seven on one more. His 83 total points edged Connor Brown by three for 20th place.
This year, (Ross) is sure to get some more time in the AHL, and could conceivably contribute as a 3rd line NHLer down the road.
we'll have to hope the offense comes along. He'll get a bigger role next year with the Marlies and needs to make strides to still be in the running for an NHL job.