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Happy T25 season to everyone, today you get to meet the voters for the official list. We had 10 people voting this year – enough to sand off some of the rough edges when calculating an average, but not too many that it becomes just the Community Vote writ small.
For me, seeing the difference between what several hundred people think about the prospects vs a few people is one of the fun things about the T25. It's like the difference between a referendum and a city council vote.
We had four guests this year, and the rest are PPP authors, most of us with many years practice at this voting gig. First the Guests, since they were gracious enough to participate:
Long time PPP reader, sporadic commenter, and 2nd time Top 25 Under 25 Guest Voter here. I was there for the story of Nitro Mysteron. I was there for the Petter Granberg debates. I was there when Chemmy accidentally put Andrew Crescenzi at 10th. Everyone thought he was crazy. I was there.
I put a lot of stock in quantitative models for prospect analysis. I look at normalized scoring first and foremost as well as age, size, the path they’re on, and the competition they’re facing. After all that, I trust my eyes and vibes about a player.
There’s a few reasons for this. One is that I cannot watch enough non-NHL games to feel confident in my appraisal of a player with my eyes alone. How do I know I’m not catching a player on an off game or how do I know I didn’t see the best game a player will ever play in the OHL? How do I know I’m just not noticing the wrong things, like how a player can be quietly effective without looking like they’re trying or how a player can look like they’re hustling but be getting caved in? I much prefer a method that looks at them all in the aggregate to supplement my very human attention span. Another reason is that even scouts struggle to see outside the context of the league they focus on, and I consider a method that enables apples-to-apples comparisons of players in different leagues novel and exciting in how it bridges that real-world gap. Another is the synergy I perceive between the benefits and faults of stats vs. scouts and how I believe they can complement each other. I find numbers to be a useful check on the enthusiasm of scouts, just as I find scouts can supply badly-needed context to the lacunose data that informs quantitative prospect analysis. Last is that I find it fun to goof off after hours with Python and advance my understanding of this stupid sport.
I would like to say I have a model but I’m not there yet. Instead, I have the above bias and an intuitive method for getting to a ranking of these players. My method is that I lump players into ad-hoc tiers. I order the players within the tiers. Then I order the tiers. This gives me my ranking. This year’s ranking involved 12 tiers, some of the names of which include “Long Shots to be More Than Low-End NHLers or Career AHLers, But Good To Have Around,” “Distant But Intriguing Skaters,” and “Dud(e)s.” So a rigorous method, for sure.
Hello PPP! Zone Entry here, aka Alexis to certain special people (which includes all of you now!). As some of you know I first gained my footing here by starting the Nic Petan Spiderman meme, and then just never left. This being my first time as an Official Voter, I figured I should be a bit more methodical than usual… since in the past I’ve tinkered endlessly with the list and clearly needed some sort of structure.
I gave each player a score of 0-2 in three categories: Legitimacy (are they NHL talent, now or future?), Collectability (how unique and/or irreplaceable is this player?), and Projectability (how certain are we of this player’s future?). I averaged everyone’s score (unnecessary but felt more Science), and broke tiebreakers by highest league attained. Still hella subjective, but it did a good job of sorting my various gut feelings and random knowledge into something I could be happy with. The one caveat to my process is that Joe Miller had to make the list, even if only #25, because The Expanse has a character named Joe Miller and in addition to it being amazingly great sci-fi, also presents a world light-years ahead in LGBTQ inclusivity. Plus I hear enough qualified positivity for the real Joe Miller to feel it’s not completely frivolous.
Very happy to be on the team for 2023, and hope my adjusted relative expected Corsi is good enough to be invited back next time. My cap hit is small, I promise!
Call me The Bag. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no interest in salary cap calculations, and nothing particular to interest me on the Leafs’ NHL roster, I thought I would learn about the prospect part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the most recent playoff loss, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in Columbus—then, I account it high time to focus on the prospect pool as soon as I can.
I ranked based on (estimated) likelihood to exceed replacement value in the NHL. I looked at things like role, goal scoring (for forwards), and level of play (OHL vs AHL vs KHL), because I think a bird’s eye view was the best on offer. I sometimes made weird judgment calls that I will probably try to explain, if anyone is interested. I generally ranked goalies highly, but I think replacement level for goalies is quite low, and I don’t think projecting goalie prospects is that much harder than skater prospects (most of them aren’t making it). The uncertainty around younger prospects usually worked in their favour.
Our fourth guest chose the name bballgordie, and is a brand new voter for PPP.
And now for the boring, old familiar people:
I was forced to vote in the T25 again this year by the evil cabal who owns PPP (editor's note: we're the fun kind of evil though). My revenge is that I intentionally ignored points, paid some attention to draft position, and dismissed the NCAA as junior hockey’s frat-boy older brother who is worse at hockey.
My voting method this year was to rank 25 players basically on gut feeling. Then I went through the list a pair at a time, like I was a computer program designed to sort a list, and I said: should number 1 be ahead of number 2? Yes, what about 2 and 3? No? Okay if so, what about 1 and 3? And so on down the list, backing up when I made a switch. I did that about three times, using age as a bit of a weighting factor along with draft position and performance. I made a serious effort to not downrank newly drafted players just because they hadn’t played much yet.
My result makes a lot more sense if you just assume that anyone below about 15 is all equally ranked. But for all that everyone is talking about the bottom, I found the top of the list very difficult to rank. Well, after number one, anyway.
I always enjoy doing these, even this year, because I am a true degenerate prospect guy. I enjoy watching and talking about prospects. But I hate rankings. I just feel they tell you more about the person doing the ranking than they do about the players themselves, and it can also hide the real differences between players. I’m much more interested in the articles and profiles, or just blurbs, written about the players being ranked.
The part I enjoy about this series are the articles and the comments talking about each player. That said, my method to these is not very time consuming or sophisticated. I go through each player and set a tier number for each one. Then I re-sort the list and make some adjustments to a few players to move them up/down a tier. Then I sort each tier according to ‘rank’, and once that’s all done I number the whole list 1 through 25. The whole process for me this year took no more than 5 minutes.
I didn’t really have a strict system in mind for how I decided the tiers or rankings. I did apply specific weights on their stats, age, or draft position. I was going off of my previous thoughts and feelings for them all based on all the time I followed and watched them last season. That did take points, ice time, role, league/level, how they looked when I watched, and any other bits of info I had picked up. I didn’t assign any weight to each of those factors, I just had that all in mind.
Hello again. Because this year is so starved in some places and so bloated in others, after I did a similar tier list to the others (with weightings for upside and projectability), I decided to put a stamp on the players I truly believed in. In the end, my list still kind of went like this: no-doubters, top prospects, depth guys who might be more, depth guys, low probability fliers.
Like other U25 players in the past, Conor Timmins was difficult to place because he could be off the roster before opening night. But whether he provides his value for the Leafs or someone else, he’s still beaten a large chunk of the ballot. He’s not super high up my list because I still see some players who are so young their potential is still very high, or older and at the same level or higher. I have one, maybe two big surprises, and I’m ready to defend them, though only one is a defender.
A warning: I have been doing Top 25's for a decade and I've never struggled like this so anyone who thinks I just made things up, probably.
I used to go hard on prospects but then I lost my cushy desk job and couldn't work on company time, so sorry about dropping that but smarter people than I (Brian) picked up and ran with it.
I vote based on current NHL readiness and my gut. Does he have a cool name? Add a point. Can I not type their name easily? Oh that's rough sorry man, I don't want to have to try too hard. I just rank as I see fit and hope I have plenty of time for "told you so's" later (Brendan Leipsic).
Hi everyone! This is my first time voting officially in the T25U25, and although I’m generally quite over-enthusiastic about prospects and therefore excited for this, I also have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to ranking prospects. In the past, I’ve been the type that will overrate any prospect that I’ve read an intriguing feature on (Nitro Mysterion, anyone?) or who has a good NHLe, I’ve been slowly trying to be more realistic about prospects.
Being realistic about prospects, I would’ve liked to rank fewer than 25 this year. I did at least recognize every name on the list, which is tough with this crop.
As is, my method was relatively unorganized. I did a first “vibes-based” ranking, double-checking stats for most players, and left it for a few days. I did goalies nearly randomly, particularly with respect to Hildeby, Akhtyamov, and Peksa. I find it hard to rank goalies at all because of how different their development curves tend to be from skaters and because their success is so hard to track and translate between levels—because of that, I think those three goalies in particular probably have quite a bit more potential than my ranking would suggest in a T25 this weak. Along with how weak this year’s batch was, what also surprised me was how much my opinions on players in this list have changed year-to-year pretty much throughout the list.
A few days after my initial ranking, I came back to it and saw if there were any rankings that looked way out of place. My later corrections tended to veer toward prioritizing younger players, higher draft picks (even if I was not particularly excited by them), and players who are unexciting but pretty much a guarantee to make a difference for the Leafs. Oddly enough, I felt that the players who’ve played the most for the Leafs are some of the hardest to rank because this was a tough team to make last year, and many of them had good stretches, but it’s easy to imagine almost any of them having limited success from here on out anyway.
Hello everyone up there from down here in the Species Hockey Player Conditioning Centre and Pasta Casserole Trattori (Michelin star pending), located in sub-basement three of the PPP Kitten Ranch.
I've participated in voting on this list a long time, and this year's was a unique experience. At the start it felt like it would be such a chore because, frankly, the Leafs prospect ranks are thin, but much to my surprise I was actually able to pull together my ranking rather quickly. I always do the proverbial "angry letter in the drawer" thing with this list and go back the next morning to check how I ranked and then adjust the more outrageous ones, but this time I only had to make two small changes.
In general, my ranking philosophy is still the same as past years, and that's to organise players based on a hybrid of their track to make the NHL and the significance of the role they will play specifically on the Leafs. I don't treat it as an exact science, so don't ask me for data, but I have watched a lot of Marlies games and seen a lot of hot shot prospects come in and then flop when they got their chance, so I try not to keep any sustained hard expectations for them.
That being said, I still unabashedly have my favourites, and I will disclose that personal bias in the notes as we go along, though for a preview to whet your appetite, I still believe in Nick Robertson!
Also, I am still mad they traded away Mason Marchment.
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