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As you've noticed by now, if you've done the Community Vote, the list of players is very different this year. A lot of talent has aged out in the last couple of seasons.
Last year the list was Matthews, some other rostered players and some prospects. This year, marks the conversion of the list almost entirely away from NHL regulars.
Ranked last year and too old to be eligible this year are:
Ranked unanimously at first for eight votes over seven years, we ran out of things to say about Matthews long before he got too old to win this.
That's the whole list. It seems like it should be more, but everyone else who is gone was either traded away or not given a Qualifying Offer this summer.
Those others who left are:
Ranked second last year, fourth in 2021 and both 2020 lists, sixth in 2019 and way too low at 12th in his debut in 2018. We always rank the new guys way too low.
Sandin is likely the highest quality young player the Leafs have traded in quite some time. The pick that came back was used to draft Easton Cowan, likely ranked too low by everyone this year.
It will be interesting to see where Sandin ranks on any Capitals prospect lists this summer because they have been doing some drafting with decent picks lately, and he's got a lot of competition there he wouldn't have on the Leafs list.
Acquired in trade for Andreas Johnsson, Anderson was ranked 11th last year and 14th in 2021 and 2020. We could never quite believe in him, and neither could the Leafs. After 20 games played over three years, he was traded to Chicago in the Lafferty/McCabe trade at the deadline. He appeared in 24 games for Chicago at the end of last season, and they re-signed him to a one-year deal in June.
Mete made the list last year, just barely in age, and just barely in ranking at 18th. He suffered some injuries, and played very little in his one Leafs season. He is now a free agent.
Král, ranked 19th last year, 22nd in 2021 and 23rd in and 20th in the 2020 lists, was given two games on the NHL roster and was then not qualified in the summer. He is a low-points defensive defender who plays well in the AHL. He's signed in the Finnish league this year.
Big junior points never quite translated for Abramov, who was ranked 20th last year, 11th in 2021 and 10th and 14th in the 2020 lists. He was traded to St. Louis in the O'Reilly/Acciari deal, but he never left the AHL. He's still under contract for one more year with the Blues.
That's not a lot of departures, so the obvious question is: how did the list of eligible players get so short? The answer is that a few Russian players with indefinite rights aged out: Nikolai Chebykin, Vladislav Kara. Some unranked players were traded or went unqualified including Pavel Gogolev, Curtis Douglas, Mac Hollowell, Axel Rindell and Kalle Loponen.
We seem to have been in agreement with Brad Treliving about the players he let walk away to a large degree.
It is very interesting to see what the Capitals have been doing with draft picks and trades lately. They are deeply into their competitive years with most of their core players a great deal older than the Leafs are. They missed the playoffs last year, and they'll have to get lucky to make it this year. They have phased out the trading of picks and prospects for deadline additions or big summer trades, and are well into the stage where they can either throw in the towel and rebuild or try to do it on the fly while remaining competitive. I think they've basically failed at that already and are locked into not rebuilding because of Alex Ovechkin.
There was a lot of talk this summer from Leafs fans that seemed to imply they thought the Leafs were at that stage too. They aren't. They're years away from that, which a serious look at Washington should tell anyone not wedded to their excess of pessimism. Don't be surprised if next year's T25 is even more challenging to vote on because the Leafs aren't done trading the future for the present.
Assuming they're still Leafs, the following players will age out:
- Joe Woll
- Conor Timmins
- Keith Petruzzelli
- Pontus Holmberg
- Timothy Liljegren
- Nick Abruzzese
How many of those guys did you rank this year?
How many replacements will actually hit the list by this time next summer? The Leafs have eight draft picks, mostly poor quality ones, and we'll be sitting here this time next year fondly remembering when it was possible to refuse to rank fifth-round picks.
We have to console ourselves with the hope that we really are ranking players like Cowan too low right now. We'll see what we think of him next year, and if he shoots up the list.
Next up in T25 lists is the unranked and the honourable mentions. There's so few, that will be one article later this week. The real deal starts next week.
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