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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - The Return

Back and better than ever, it's the fourth edition of summer's favourite way to kill time talking Maple Leaf hockey

New Leaf draft pick RInat Valiev. Did he make the cut?
New Leaf draft pick RInat Valiev. Did he make the cut?
Bruce Bennett

Call it fashionably late.

While the series is a little bit delayed compared to when I would have liked it to launch, what's important is that once again PPP is proud to present its compilation of the teams' best players under the age of 25. Now in its fourth edition, we wanted to find a way to keep it fresh and exciting, while also telling you how much Tyler Biggs stinks. At first, deep in the depression of having Randy Carlyle's reign of terror extended, the idea was going to be that all projections would include a "worst case scenario" for how the Leafs "braintrust" would ruin each player. But then the summer of Shanahan happened, and we had a better idea.

We decided to do what any popular and long-running television show would do to help boost its ratings. We brought in a ton of guest stars.

For long-time readers of the series, not much will seem very different. All players within the Leaf organization (under contract or their NHL rights controlled) under the age of 25 years old (as of June 30) were open to the voting process (and this year, I didn't forget anybody!) The voters then rank the players from 1-25, 1 being the best player, down to the lowest (in past seasons, we had ranked the Top 30. However, only 39 players qualified this time around, so we've pared the voting back a little bit). Each player receives 25 points for a 1st-place vote, down to 1 point for a 25th-place vote and nothing for not being ranked. The list is compiled in order based on who finishes with the most votes.

Over the next few weeks, as the summer winds down towards the preseason, we'll count down the players from the bottom of our list to the top, and bring in our voters to provide some insight into the players and the logic behind their selections. Let's take a moment to welcome back our voters.

JP Nikota
Bower Power
Steve Burtch
67 Sound
and myself

But this year, that's not all. As many of you know, part of the fun of the series is getting to know the players that we don't have as much familiarity with, the guys playing in remote corners of the hockey world. To help provide a more complete picture this time around, we reached out to some of our friends around the Internet hockey community, for assistance in bringing you better information on Leaf prospects you vaguely remember hearing about.

With no further ado, we want to thank and introduce our guest contributors to this year's series.

Kyle Cicerella, Sports Reporter Editor for the Canadian Press, Contributor to The Hockey News, and owner of the website KyleTheReporter, where he focuses on covering the Toronto Marlies.

Jeff Cox, Senior Writer at SBN College Hockey, our sister site focused on NCAA hockey and high school hockey and recruiting news from around the US.

Gus Katsaros, the Pro Scouting Coordinator for McKeens Hockey, who provides exceptional coverage annually of the NHL Entry Draft, and produces the wonderful Hockey Pool Yearbook.

Corey Pronman, NHL writer for ESPN and Hockey Prospectus, who provides stellar coverage of the NHL Entry Draft and hockey prospects in general.

Neate Sager, writer for Yahoo's Buzzing the Net blog, which provides great coverage of all things junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League, where Neate primarily focuses on the OHL.

Jeff Veillette, writer for Maple Leaf blog The Leafs Nation, where in addition to literally any topic that seems to come into his head, Jeff provides frequent updates on the Toronto Marlies.

This week, we'll throw up a couple of pieces to set the stage, and then next week the countdown will begin. Last summer's champion, James Van Riemsdyk, has turned 25 and is no longer eligible. So, with one last sidestep around the outside of a sprawling Luke Schenn, JVR will take the stage, surrender the title of PPP's Top 25 Under 25 Champion, and officially announce the beginning of the new competition.