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2016 Top 25 under 25: #20-16 recap

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Week two of our T25U25 is over. Let's take a look back at who wound up where.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

This week we covered ranks 20-16, and Zach Hyman was not one of them!

#20: Tobias Lindberg

Lindberg is the first player to arrive on our list via a trade. Katya notes the winger can both move and think at NHL speed, but his scoring with the Marlies was disappointing, ultimately leading to him being benched. This also wasn't the first time he was benched. There were reports of "attitude problems" in Ottawa.

However he has a fan in Chris H.

His offensive game has been steady, he has a heavy and accurate shot & good vision to complement his play-making ability. He makes sure to make himself available for a pass through his ability to read the play.

I see a lot of positives in Tobias Lindberg. In my opinion he is one underrated player to keep your eye on for the 2016-17 season as he is bound to get a bigger role with some players graduating from the Marlies to the Maple Leafs.

Katya wasn't convinced he can ever be a scorer, but that he could still contribute at the NHL level.

He didn’t earn playoff minutes as I said. Kapanen was less than impressive against Bridgeport, who are a very bad team, and so was Lindberg, and when given the scratch treatment, it was Kapanen who came out hard and stayed very good throughout the playoffs. Lindberg just didn’t respond well.

As for points comparison to junior hockey, I think it’s meaningless to try to calculate number comparisons and apply a value of good or bad to it. He was top four on his team there, that’s not happening again. He’s not going to be a big goal scorer at higher levels of play. Period. He may become an effective player nonetheless.

Posted by KatyaKnappe

Perhaps the most accurate comment on Lindberg was this one:

Lindberg is ummm…a hackey player. Is this how I get into the weekend summary?

Posted by The otters

Either that or banned. Depends on my mood!

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#19: Travis Dermott

Dermott moves up three spots on improvement in his all-around game. He joined the Marlies for one playoff game this spring. Our voters had concerns that he has yet to develop that extra level of skating and scoring needed to make it as an NHL defenceman.

Not entirely sure I get it with Dermott. Not great skater. Not that big. No big shot. Not an offensive wizard. Same age as Neilsen, smaller, scored less.

And as for him losing McDavid, I’m not sure playing behind Dylan Strome and Debrincat is any great poverty. In fact, that was the 3rd highest scoring team out of 20 in the OHL. But if his style is actually as strong as people say, then glad we have him, and let’s just keep feeding him ice-time.

Posted by not norm ullman

Scrambles asked a great question about the correlation of junior stats to future success, highlighting Percy and Finn with comparable careers in junior and what we thought of them.

I’m having a hard time caring about Dermott simply because he’s a decent scoring OHLer with a two-way game and that meant nothing for Finn or Percy. As far as I can tell, junior scoring numbers just don’t correlate that well with pro level success. So I’m curious if Dermott does something differently that’ll help him get past the AHL, and if any of the evaluators who feel strongly about him could have seen red flags with Percy/Finn when they were rounding out their OHL careers.

Posted by scrambles the death dealer

Scott took on this one.

I was really high on Finn after his final OHL season — just utterly dominant in both ends. Injuries and skating were his undoing (skating is also a concern, though not a huge one, with Dermott). He was better that year than Dermott has been at any point. All three fit into about the same tier as prospects. At 19, they looked like potential second pairing prospects at their best.

Posted by Scott Wheeler

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#18: Josh Leivo

Leivo is now a five time member of our Top 25, joining the inaugural edition in 2012. He rose all the way up to 8 but has now fallen back to 18.

Hyman over Leivo for me is saying that some on here prefer floor over a potential ceiling, no?

Posted by the_humourisironic

This particular debate about how to rank players is a very old one for our Top 25: weighting NHL readiness vs. projected ceiling vs. actual development to date in comparison to other prospects. Our voters all have different views on which of those to prioritize, and wound up placing Leivo in a very wide range of ranks, all the way from out of the top 25 to in the top 10. He had the widest variance in rankings of all the prospects.

Arvind cited his views that potential ceilings aren't nearly as high or attainable as many believe.

I think people vastly overrate the probability that guys like say, Walker or Bracco, or whoever become something notably better than Leivo or Hyman. If we think of the possibilities of what they can become as a distribution, the most likely answer (beyond not making it to the NHL) is being a decent depth player. So while I get the idea of valuing upside, there comes a point where the upside has such a remote chance of happening that it doesn’t outweigh the fact that Leivo/Hyman are NHL capable players right now.

Posted by Arvind.

Leivo is eligible to be on next year's Top 25 too. If he's still with the Leafs it will be interesting to see if he can climb back up the ranks.

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#17: Brendan Leipsic

Leipsic fell five positions this year. The thirsty and gritty winger made his NHL debut, playing 6 games for the Leafs and scoring his first NHL goal. Opinions were somewhat mixed about what chances he has to make the jump to the NHL full time given how crowded the prospect field is.

He’s very offensively gifted but I think, like Leivo, he’s lacking the thing that’s going to push him over the edge into meaningful NHL time. I could be wrong and he’d got another step up to make in his play, but for me again, Rychel comes in over this guy, so do a few other new additions to the team. On the right line in the NHL, he may produce, but it can be so hard to find that right fit for a marginal player, particular one with a high-risk game.

Posted by KatyaKnappe

Some wondered if this situation could lead to a trade

I agree he has a future in the NHL but he is in tough this year competing in a logjam of forwards with his waiver exempt status all but guaranteeing he starts the season with the Marlies. Next season he will be in the exact same position as Josh Leivo was this year. A UFA at 23, looking for a new contract. As much as I like this player and what he brings, I cannot see him surviving the season as a Leaf. As implied in this article, he has a Brendan "Gallagherish" quality that other teams are looking for and would be very tradeable for more pressing positional needs.

Posted by GcmGome

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#16: Jeremy Bracco

Bracco fell two positions from 14 to 16 this year. He played most of the season with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL after suddenly leaving Boston College.

Our commenters had a lot to say about his skating ability.

I’ve seen Bracco twice live. The first game he was noticeable and it was evident that he had above average offensive ability – identifying passing lanes, sharp anticipatory passing, very good off the rush playmaking, etc. The second time he looked well contained and couldn’t generate anything. His skating looked ok to me, but some (Brook Otten, Brendon Ross and someone else who is escaping me) seem to indicate his skating was just slightly above average, which really puts him lower in my books considering his size. If he can develop another gear I think that I would rank him right around here.

His even-strength points are right around Lawson Course and Christian Fischer (an Arizona 2nd round steal). So he’s in good company for even-strength wingers in his draft class.

Posted by The Norris

Yeah, I’m not thrilled with his skating, which matters a lot, because if you’re a small guy, you need to be able to move around.

Posted by Arvind

Skating aside, m piedlourde noted his his primary points production was in line with some top level prospects.

Bracco’s 1.0 Pr.P/GP this season ties him with Pavel Zacha and Lawson Crouse, and he’s just a hair behind Mitchell Stephens (1.091). At even strength he ties Crouse for primary points again (0.735) and is ahead of Zacha (0.639). So he’s keeping up with some highly-regarded prospects, although he may have had better linemates (he also may have had worse linemates; I don’t really know).

All told, I’d still much rather have Travis Konecny, but I still have some hope that Bracco can turn into something. Hopefully he’ll have a big season back in Kitchener and then contribute to the Marlies in 2017-18.

Posted by m piedlourde

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And that brings us to the end of this week's list. We'll be back Monday with #15!