On Friday we wrapped up our series ranking the 2018 Top 25 Leafs players under the age of 25 — unsurprisingly, Matthews took the crown again. A big thanks to all the other writers and voters in the masthead for the work that went into all of the profiles, and another big thanks to all the people who read and commented in what was our most successful ever T25U25 series.
A particular special thanks to NotARealOne for his ludicrous series of comments in each and every article right to the very end!
Looking back at it, I thought I’d do a quick recap of my own votes, as well as what changes I might make after looking back at all the good work and information the other writers put together. Personally, the biggest thing I took into account as my main ranking factor was value (or potential value) in the NHL. If I didn’t think a guy had a shot in the NHL at all, or if he would basically top out as bad NHL depth and only ever called up because of injuries or something, I probably wouldn’t rank them at all. When I say value, I mean two things: upside and position.
A guy who I think may have a lesser chance at being in the NHL, but I think has a higher ceiling and/or at a more valuable position (center and defense mostly), would be ranked higher within my tier system. That’s why some of my wingers may seem lower than others, or why I have Nylander above Marner (I value his ability to play center even if it doesn’t look like he will anymore).
Here are my original rankings, where I will also include my ‘tiers’ that show the rough grouping and some comments.
#1 — Auston Matthews
#2 — William Nylander
#3 — Mitch Marner
#4 — Morgan Rielly
Potentially Elite Tier:
#5 — Timothy Liljegren
#6 — Travis Dermott
#7 — Kasperi Kapanen: love him because of the upside his skill and speed presents, even if he’s a winger.
Good in the NHL Tier
#8 — Andreas Johnsson
#9 — Connor Brown
#10 — Connor Carrick
#11 — Andreas Borgman
I’m high on them but they’re far enough away I’m not real sure about them yet Tier:
#12 — Rasmus Sandin: in hindsight I would probably move him up to either #8 or #10
#13 — Adam Brooks: my bold take is that he takes a big step this year
#14 — Carl Grundstrom
The guys left over who I think can potentially make an impact in the future but are either too new or don’t necessarily have a high ceiling Tier:
#15 — Calle Rosen
#16 — Sean Durzi
#17 — Dmytro Timashov
#18 — Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
#19 — Fedor Gordeev: he’s like Kapanen in that he seems to have so many great tools and upside but has to start putting them together
#20 — Riley Stotts
#21 — Eemeli Rasanen
#22 — Jeremy Bracco
#23 — Jordan Subban
#24 — Trevor Moore
The goalie Tier because I figured I might as well include ONE of them
#25 — Ian Scott
Within my rankings, there are a few guys I am actually much more excited than their rankings may suggest: Kapanen and Gordeev. Both of them seem to have such great upside due to their tools. I am also making bold bets on Brooks and Stotts having breakout years and taking big steps at their respective levels.
On the other side, there are some guys I included but reluctantly. I kept trying to talk myself into making a #hottake by discluding them altogether but couldn’t bring myself to do it: Calle Rosen, Trevor Moore and Jordan Subban. Then there were some wingers I still do like as winger prospects, but kinda wish I ranked lower down due to a combination of relative disappointment and being wingers: Timashov and Bracco. I would have ranked guys like Rasanen or Gordeev higher in their place.
One guy I DID talk myself into not including, mostly due to just plain not knowing much about him, is Korshkov. Katya’s information and analysis of him talked me into realizing he probably still has a higher ceiling than a bunch of non-NHL wingers I also ranked.
On a related note, more than any other year I’m looking forward to the Rookie Camp. I know I tell myself this every year, and wind up bored after like the first 5 minutes, but this year it seems like there are so many guys I am really interested to see. Some guys like Sandin, Durzi, Stotts, or SDA I want to see how they stack up against more experienced ‘rookies’. While the more experienced guys like Liljegren, Brooks, Grundstrom, or maybe even Gordeev, I want to see if they can dominate like they should.
ONTO THE LINKS!
Cherie Piper joins the Markham Thunder coaching staff | by Gunnar Carlsson
Top 10 Leafs Goals from 2017-18 | by Scott Maxwell at TLN, because this is the sort of empty calories we need to sustain us until rookie camp
NHL team tiers: A player, coach, executive and scout project the 31 teams | by Crab Custard at The Athletic. Spoiler: the Leafs were in the “on the edge of contention” tier.
#1 — Auston Matthews
#4 — Morgan Rielly
#5 — Travis Dermott
If you want to read back at any of our other profiles for #6 to #25 and honourable mentions, you can check our T25U25 hub here.