When we look back at old Top 25 Under 25 lists, we might say, “What were we thinking?” I do.  Looking at last year, I see names that I still think are too high, names that I ranked too low, names that likely shouldn’t have even been there.

In the last two years, you could draw a line at number 10 and say anyone below that line is not a player.  But of course, there is the gigantic glaring exception to that rule in Zach “15th to a four-year deal in one year” Hyman. We get it wrong sometimes.  And he’s exactly the kind of player that needs either faithful watching or something better than box car stats to judge from.

T25U25 Summary

1Auston MatthewsMorgan RiellyMorgan RiellyJames Van RiemsdykPhil KesselPhil Kessel
2William NylanderWilliam NylanderJake GardinerJake GardinerJames Van RiemsdykJake Gardiner
3Mitch MarnerJake GardinerNazem KadriNazem KadriJake GardinerJames Reimer
4Morgan RiellyNazem KadriWilliam NylanderMorgan RiellyNazem KadriLuke Schenn
5Connor BrownMitch MarnerPeter HollandJonathan BernierMatt FrattinJoe Colborne
6Nikita ZaitsevKasperi KapanenStuart PercyJoe ColborneJames ReimerNazem Kadri
7Connor CarrickPeter HollandMatt FinnStuart PercyCody FransonCody Franson
8Martin MarincinConnor BrownJosh LeivoMatt FinnMorgan RiellyMatt Frattin
9Kasperi KapanenRichard PanikAndreas JohnsonJosh LeivoJesse BlackerJesse Blacker
10Nikita SoshnikovMartin MarincinCarter VerhaegheJesse BlackerStuart PercyKeith Aulie
11Kerby RychelAndreas JohnsonCarter AshtonJerry D'AmigoJoe ColborneStuart Percy
12Andreas JohnsonBrendan LeipsicPetter GranbergFrederik GauthierKorbinian HolzerMarcel Mueller
13Dmytro TimashovStuart PercyGregg McKeggPetter GranbergMatt FinnGreg McKegg
14Frank CorradoJeremy BraccoConnor BrownTony CameranesiGregg McKeggBrad Ross
15Zach HymanJosh LeivoViktor LoovGreg McKeggCarter AshtonKorbinian Holzer
16Jeremy BraccoViktor LoovFrederik Gauthier Tyler BiggsMark OwuyaJerry D'Amigo
17Brendan LeipsicTaylor BeckTom NilssonDominic ToninatoJerry D'AmigoTyler Biggs
18Josh LeivoNikita SoshnikovGarret SparksGarret SparksJosh LeivoMark Owuya
19Travis DermottFrederik GauthierFabrice HerzogCarter AshtonNicolas DeschampsSondre Olden
20Tobias LindbergCarter VerhaegheSam CarrickBrad RossBrad RossJosh Nicholls
21Rinat ValievDmytro TimashovTeemu HartikainenConnor BrownTyler BiggsJosh Leivo
22Andrew NielsenTravis DermottTony CameranesiCarter VerhaeghePetter GranbergJussi Rynnas
23Carl GrundstromScott HarringtonAntoine BibeauTom NilssonSpencer AbbottKenny Ryan
24Martins DzierkalsMatt FinnBrandon KozunViktor LoovGreg ScottJuraj Mikus
25Yegor KorshkovChris GibsonDominic ToninatoKenny RyanAndrew CrescenziLuca Caputi

2016 looks fairly reasonable other than Hyman.   The mass of players just outside the top ten don’t seem to have a lot of difference in value.  They stay about as good as each other deep into the list.  I’m not sure that’s still true, since last year’s list was made just before that rush of rookies into the NHL.

2015 looks like a very good list, with only a few overvaluations on marginal players and underrating of new players like Soshnikov.

2014 is the most depressing T25 list I’ve ever seen that didn’t have Vancouver Canucks across the top.  Stuart Percy and Matt Finn?  It’s not so much that the rankers were overrating them it’s that Connor Brown should have been fifth and then there should have been five blank spots from six to 10.

2013 is as bad as 2014.

When you crawl back into the past to the summer of 2012 (the second column from the right) you finally see a team that was okay and an organization with some depth, and then it all just vanished, blown away by years of bad drafting and bad trades finally piling up until there was no one to take the place of graduating players like Phil Kessel.

Keeping that dividing line between the players and the maybes at 10 is going to get tougher from now on, and I’m not so sure that’s where it is this summer, but if the Leafs can maintain that sort of value at the top end in future, they’ll be in good shape.

The other question to ask is, looking at the bottom of the list, is it getting better? Are the bottom four or five players improving from no-hopers to at least really good AHLers?  It seems like it, and if that can be improved, if there’s really good AHLers not even on the list each year in the future, then you have a powerhouse organization with depth for all occasions.

Where are they now: Names from older T25U25 lists