We may be just over a month away from the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL returning to play for the 2021 half-season, so there’s still some time to fill, and I am here to do my part.

The last Top 25 Under 25 we did here was back at the start of the hockey news desert, and it was before the 2020 NHL Draft occurred, so now we’re back with all the shiny new prospects and a new list just for you.

Previously this week we covered the players no one voted for, and then the players who some ranked but didn’t make the cut, and Katya looked at a new draft pick and an old draft pick and what the difference could be.

Now, I’m here to reveal the three players that make up the bottom of the list.

#25 - Pontus Holmberg - C/LW - Drafted 2018 - Round 6, Pick #156
2021 Team: Växjö Lakers HC, SHL
Stats: 17GP - 5G - 4A - 9Pts

Previously in June, Pontus Holmberg was ranked 18thin our list. Now he’s fallen to the final ranked spot. What happened between June and December to make him drop seven spots?

Top 25 Under 25: Pontus Holmberg finds a holm at #18

Aside from the risk of Fulemin writing another headline like that, there’s no obvious reason. He was fine in the SHL the past two season, but this year he’s on pace for a great year and could easily double last years point totals. Our thoughts on Holmberg place him squarely in the “He’s fine” category.

Brigstew: Just seems like a Swedish Zach Hyman to me, in that he may not wow you with fancy skills or gifs but is just quietly effective. I don’t believe in him so much that I’ll rank him in the top 10 or anything, but he’s a guy I do believe in enough to include him in my top 25.

Fulemin: It’s weirdly easy to see Pontus Holmberg somehow racking up NHL games in the future. It’s also easy to see him being a guy who gets totally forgotten by Leaf fans and never crosses the ocean. He will excite no one but his coaches; he will disappoint no one with his effort.

Katya: Holmberg is having a good year, which is what we should expect at his age. He’s got his hands wrapped around the 3C job, and he’s not giving it up, after flirting with the 4th line last year. But he can’t knock Carolina’s second-rounder Jack Drury out of the 2C spot. He’s a grinder line man.

Perhaps his affinity for the colour beige, and his favourite food being mashed potatoes were held against him. One thing we know is that Pontus Holmberg is a hockey player.

#24 - Mac Hollowell - D - Drafted 2018 - Round 4, Pick #118
2021 Team: TUTO Hockey, Mestis (Finland)
Stats: 6GP - 2G - 4A - 6Pts

Hollowell is a long term project from the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. After his first pro-season, split between the AHL Marlies and the ECHL Growlers, Hollowell was ready to take a top four role with the Marlies this season. The AHL shutdown has thwarted those plans, and Hollowell has found himself loaned out to a Finnish Tier 3 team.

In June, Hollowell was ranked 22nd on the list, which was a fall from #15 in 2019.

Top 25 Under 25: Mac Hollowell is transitioning to pro at #22

Brigstew: I like the idea of him, but I just don’t know. He’s in a mix with a big group of longshot “maybe?” defensemen who have played in the ECHL and AHL but haven’t seemed to be clearly the next best defensive prospects behind Sandin and Liljegren in the AHL. I grouped them all together in my final tier, which made up spots 15ish to beyond 25th. I think I just left Hollowell out, due to his age since he has less room to get better.

Katya: Hollowell went over to Finland to have fun in the Mestis, and could likely do fine in the Liiga in the right role. That puts him somewhere below Miko Kokkonen, which is where he ended up ranked.

There’s not much more room for Hollowell to fall, and the current upcoming season won’t help much if the AHL doesn’t resume playing. An entire year in a league no one has heard of until now could raise expectations too high, or push him completely out of our minds.

#23 - Filip Král - D - Drafted 2018 - Round 5, #149
2021 Team: HC Kometa Brno, Czech Extraliga
Stats: 14GP - 1G - 2A - 3Pts

Rounding out our list of the bottom three is player in his first year of pro-hockey, former WHL player Filip Král. He’s headed back to the same club where he played junior hockey, HC Kometa Brno. He started the season with HC Prerov of the Tier 2 league, but moved on up to familiar stomping grounds in Brno. He did play 27 games with the top club before arriving in the WHL, but only scored two assists.

Like his fellow bottom players, Kral fell from his June ranking where he placed 20th.

Top 25 Under 25: Filip Kral is a Kyle Dubas defenseman at #20

Brigstew: honestly take what I said about Hollowell and apply it to him now, except he’s a bit younger and just getting to professional hockey so maybe he can take another step forward to leapfrog him? I just don’t know, and I left him off my top 25 until I can see something that makes me believe.

Katya: I became a bit of a Kral believer this year. He just walked right from the WHL to the Czech league and took about 10 games to convince them he belongs on a top team. Where does that put him vs the AHL defenders? That’s a good question, but he’s younger than most of them.

All of these players have dropped in the rankings from June, and were drafted in 2018. All we need to do is have Holmberg change to playing as a defender and they could be completely interchangeable.

Hollowell and Holmberg were almost ranked in the same position; Holmberg had an average rank of 22.43 and Hollowell was 22 even. Kral was a bit higher with an average ranking of 20.

Winter T25: 25, 24, and 23

PlayerPontus HolmbergMac HollowellFilip Král
Summer 2020 Rank182220
Birth DateMarch 9, 1999September 26, 1998October 20, 1999
NationalitySwedenCanadaCzech Republic
Weighted rank23.222.922.4
Lowest Rank252425
Highest Rank192019
Spread in Rank646
Total Votes776

Coming up tomorrow? the community votes for numbers 25-23! For Number 22 you’ll have to wait until Monday morning, but gets an article all his own. He’s a new face, and even got a top 15 vote.

Would you have ranked these players higher, lower? Who do you think is the next player up?

Which prospect has the best chance at the NHL?

Pontus Holmberg130
Mac Hollowell97
Filip Kral57
All of them will play an NHL game34
None will wear the Maple Leaf.96