When deciding who to add to your Top 25 under 25 list, it’s pretty hard once you get past the obvious names. Marner, Matthews, Nylander, Rielly, of course will make it. What about the fringe players, those guys we rarely hear about?The new draft picks, some of whom are complete mysteries heading off to play in BC Jr A leagues.

I sat staring at my list, with names of players we know, people who have played in Memorial Cups or came to the Marlies playoff rescue. At one point I had both, Martins Dzierkals and Kasimir Kaskisuo, in that slot. One on the line between an AHL contract or an overage year in the QMJHL, the other hunkering down in Orlando for most of last season.

Then I looked around at the players below them: Frederik Gauthier was in my 20-25 range at one point as well, but discussions with others bumped him down. What about the college goalie? Joseph Woll had an all right season for a freshman, but maybe some more time would do him good.

I settled on a player, who had a very good season on the ice, but a little bit of trouble off of it, but isn’t well known to a lot of Maple Leafs fans. My #25 vote went to Dakota Joshua.

I was the lone person to vote for Joshua, one of the few outliers on the voting this year, and I did so for a couple of reasons. First, 25 is harder to pick than I thought. Why not one of the two players above? Why not Gauthier? They all make cases for themselves and I settled on Dakota Joshua because I liked what I read while following him this season.

2013-14Sioux Falls StampedeUSHL5517213858
2014-15Sioux Falls StampedeUSHL5220244474
2015-16Ohio State Univ.NCAA295121750
2016-17Ohio State Univ.NCAA3312233558

Over the last year Dakota played only four more games but doubled his output — twice as many goals, twice as many assists. He was second in sophomore scoring for the Buckeyes with 35 points; Mason Jobst was first with 55, and was top 20 in all Division 1 sophomore scoring (Jobst was first again). The majority of of Joshua’s points came at even strength (8G, 12A), while the rest came from the power play (4G, 11A).

If Dakota Joshua can keep up improving his scoring as he enters his junior year, he’ll be making a strong case for himself to the Leafs.

Another reason I put him at 25 is that he’s scoring the same as other NCAA grads who joined the Maple Leafs/Marlies after school, below compares their first two seasons of scoring:

Dakota Joshua621735520.84
Tyler Bozak602631570.95
Trevor Moore813640720.89
Dominic Toninato792318410.52
Tony Cameranesi742134550.74

A few players played more games, but aside from Trevor Moore, Joshua is in line with the other NCAA grads in the Leafs system in points and PPG.

Joshua’s penalty minutes were higher this year, after he was suspended by the Big10 conference for one game for participating in a post-game brawl.  His numbers there were a bit inflated. I reached out to the Buckeyes for some insight on Joshua, and got a very coach quote.

From his head coach, Steve Rohlik:

Dakota has matured in every facet, including on the ice and academically. We look for him to be an impact player and continue to improve as a junior for us this year.

With improvement on the ice and a bigger role as junior, I look forward to Dakota Joshua proving me right in voting him into the top 25.