As you all know, this year is going to be the most interesting T25 in some time. There are only two people on the eligibility list that were drafted in the first round: Timothy Liljegren and Easton Cowan. Conor Timmins missed by one, and the rest are a mix of free agents and later-round picks.
There are several players with NHL experience, but most of them are limited role players who aren't guaranteed a roster spot. This is what it looks like when a team goes to the playoffs seven years in a row acting like they expect to win something in every season. In hindsight, that was a big ask in 2017 and 2018, but the Leafs traded a 2017 second-round pick for Brian Boyle and the 2018 second-round pick for Tomas Plekanec to shoot their best shot. That deadline dealing continued on, as did offseason acquisitions of players like Jake Muzzin, Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell.
The ghost list of prospects that aren't in this year's T25 is made up of players or picks traded away for NHL-rostered replacements. Trading the future for present wins, like all teams do, is how you try to build the best contender. And you usually don't think about it too much as you focus on the present.
The future has arrived.
Here is the official list of players for the 2023 T25:
|Player||2022 Rank||Birth Date||Age in Days on July 1, 2023||Nationality||Position||Career NHL Games Played|
|Joseph Woll||23||July 12, 1998||9,120||USA||G||11|
|Conor Timmins||N/A||September 18, 1998||9,052||Canada||RD||66|
|Keith Petruzzelli||N/A||February 9, 1999||8,908||USA||G|
|Pontus Holmberg||10||March 9, 1999||8,880||Sweden||C/W||37|
|Ryan O’Connell||NR||April 25, 1999||8,833||Canada||LD|
|Timothy Liljegren||4||April 30, 1999||8,828||Sweden||RD||141|
|Nicholas Abruzzese||8||June 4, 1999||8,793||USA||C||11|
|Alex Steeves||12||December 10, 1999||8,604||USA||C||6|
|Max Ellis||NR||January 18, 2000||8,565||USA||RW|
|Semyon Kizimov||NR||January 19, 2000||8,564||Russia||C/W|
|Semyon Der-Arguchintsev||21||September 15, 2000||8,324||Russia||C/W||1|
|Mikko Kokkonen||17||January 18, 2001||8,199||Finland||LD|
|Michael Koster||NR||April 13, 2001||8,114||USA||LD|
|John Fusco||NR||June 12, 2001||8,054||USA||LD|
|Dennis Hildeby||24||August 19, 2001||7,986||Sweden||G|
|Nicholas Robertson||5||September 11, 2001||7,963||USA||W||16|
|Veeti Miettinen||NR||September 20, 2001||7,954||Finland||RW|
|Artur Akhtyamov||NR||October 31, 2001||7,913||Russia||G|
|Roni Hirvonen||7||January 10, 2002||7,842||Finland||C|
|Ryan Tverberg||22||January 30, 2002||7,822||Canada||C|
|William Villeneuve||14||March 20, 2002||7,773||Canada||RD|
|Topi Niemelä||6||May 25, 2002||7,707||Finland||RD|
|Wyatt Schingoethe||NR||August 3, 2002||7,637||USA||C|
|Dmitri Ovchinnikov||15||August 19, 2002||7,621||Russia||F|
|Vyacheslav Peksa||NR||August 27, 2002||7,613||Russia||G|
|Joe Miller||NR||September 15, 2002||7,594||USA||F|
|Matthew Knies||3||October 17, 2002||7,562||USA||LW||3|
|Braeden Kressler||N/A||January 5, 2003||7,482||Canada||C|
|Nikita Grebenkin||N/A||February 5, 2003||7,451||Russia||RW|
|Ty Voit||12||June 10, 2003||7,326||USA||LW|
|Brandon Lisowsky||25||April 13, 2004||7,018||Canada||LW|
|Hudson Malinoski||N/A||May 19, 2004||6,982||Canada||C|
|Nicholas Moldenhauer||N/A||May 25, 2004||6,976||Canada||RW/C|
|Fraser Minten||N/A||July 5, 2004||6,935||Canada||C|
|Noah Chadwick||N/A||May 10, 2005||6,626||Canada||LD|
|Easton Cowan||N/A||May 20, 2005||6,616||Canada||C|
There are 36 players, including Ryan O'Connell, whose rights expire on August 15, and not including Rodion Amirov, who is not ready to play again. In recent years, the eligibility list has been 45 or more names long, so not only is this list short on top calibre players, it's just short.
Eligibility is, as always, everyone on an NHL contract or a member of the Maple Leafs reserve list (drafted prospects and other players the team has signing rights to) who was born no earlier than July 1, 1998.
As you can see, beyond Liljegren's 141 regular season games played, there isn't a lot of experienced players. This year's list is about the prospects, and how much hope we can realistically have for them. Joe Woll was drafted in 2016, and as the oldest player on this list, he is yet to firmly establish himself in the NHL. We expect him to play this season, but we can't know how much.
Compare him to Easton Cowan, just drafted, and we won't know what he's going to accomplish for four years or more. Liljegren, taken in 2017, has only just cleared the 100 games mark. If Cowan is lucky, and all goes well for him, he might become a full time NHLer in 2027, which seems like some other world to the one we live in now.
But think again, and compare him to Matt Knies, who is only two and a half years older, and who has already staked his claim to a permanent spot on the Maple Leafs roster. Can we imagine Cowan in two years roaring into the playoffs to wow us all? If we can't, is that Cowan or us who is lacking?
Now that I've told you how hard this voting is going to be this year, it's naturally time to call for volunteers. We'll have the community vote up soon so everyone can cast ballots, but we need some new blood on the official voters list.
If you want to be an official voter, the job involves the following:
- you decide your own process and methodology for ranking the top 25 players from the list
- you fill in the numbers on a spreadsheet
- you can, if you want, write some short blurbs on each player to be part of posted articles
- end of list
Drop us an email at PPPLeafs@gmail.com and tell me the name you want to vote under. Please use the email address you wish to access the Google Sheet with. You can use your username on the site as your voter name if you like, and you are not required to give me any other name. I'll pick about four voters, so decide quickly if you want that cachet of officialdom to surround your guesses about these prospects.