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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - #6 Stuart Percy

Stuart Percy continues to be a solid option at lower levels, after a solid first season in the AHL. Is the NHL far off?

Stuart Percy's kind of hidden in plain sight since being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Percy played his junior hockey here in the GTA, with the Mississauga Steelheads (formerly St. Michael's Majors), though judging from attendance figures not many Leaf fans in the area bothered to come out and watch.

This past season, the 2011 first-round pick graduated to the pro ranks and joined the Toronto Marlies. Playing there a lot more Leaf fans would have seen him periodically, but again, the Marlies often rate as an afterthought in Toronto, and not everyone would have a clear picture of how Percy has been progressing.

Birthyear: 1993-05-18 Birthplace: Oakville, ON, CAN
Age: 21 Nation: Canada
Position: D Shoots: L
Height: 184 cm / 6'0" Weight: 84 kg / 185 lbs
Youth Team: Toronto Marlboros MHA Contract: 15/16
Drafted: 2011 round 1 #25 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs

However, as Jeff Veillette, who watched the Marlies closely for The Leafs Nation, Percy kept on being a safe, dependable player who chips in at both ends of the ice.

Percy was barely visible, but in the best possible way way. Rarely would you see him make a huge mistake or end up in a bad situation; he was relied upon to always be in the most logical position and to make the safe play, something he was very good at. As such, Percy spent significant even strength time with offensive defenceman TJ Brennan, which allowed his partner to take more offensive risks

Ideally, one would like to see him utilize his shot more in the future, and to continue growing his offensive game on the whole. Percy is likely to be a major minute eater on the Marlies this season, and looks to be a safe bet to be a full time NHLer in the near future.

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What separates Percy's strong defensive game from some of the other prospects we've looked is the two-way nature of Percy's (and Matt Finn, for that matter) game. A guy like Petter Granberg might have a reputation as being very strong in his end of the ice, but his offensive capabilities are limited. Percy puts a focus on strong positional play on defence, but he can jump into the play and conribute offensively (25 points in his first AHL campaign).

For that reason, Percy is someone we can assess as a potential top-four defenceman in the future, while Granberg's offence limits him to a lower ceiling as a player.

Name birky BowerPower Burtch Chemmy clrkaitken Nikota PPP SkinnyFish 67 Sound FINAL RANK
Stuart Percy 5 7 13 8 6 6 9 7 9 6
Previous Ranking 9 7 13 8 6 7 13 13 8 7

Yesterday, some people discussed the feeling that Matt Finn (who came 7th in our list) should have finished ahead of Stuart Percy. The fact is that the two have essentially been inseparable on our list the past two seasons; last year, Percy and Finn tied for 7th, Percy getting the edge due to receiving the single-highest vote. This time around, Percy won out by a single point, again mostly because Percy has a few rankings higher than what Finn had.

Solid, reliable yet unspectacular first season in the AHL. Kind of got roughed up in the playoffs. Likely continues to develop at the AHL level this season. - Steve Burtch

At this point, I like Finn's development a little better, but Percy being one year further along in his development is what puts him ahead for me. - JP Nikota

JP underscores the key difference right now in trying to choose between Percy and Finn. Matt Finn enters the season likely with a spot on the Marlies blueline, but with four new faces, he'll have to fight to establish his place on the depth chart. Percy did that this season, and developed into a reliable top four option for the Marlies. That gives him an inside track for the moment, but as always, we'll re-evaluate in a year's time.