Yesterday we looked at the first Top 25 Under 25 list the site had produced, inevitably crowning Phil Kessel the Leafs' best player under the age of 25 (as of January 2012). Six months later, after the 2012 offseason had gone into full swing, we reconvened and re-examined our list.
One thing that I always find interesting looking back at this list, is that when we did the original list, it was influenced by events of the first part of the 2011-12 season. Joe Colborne, for example, had gotten off to a blistering start to his season in the AHL and looked set on solidifying his prospect status by moving up to the NHL.
However lingering wrist injuries rendered him ineffective down the stretch and his ranking through our second list suffered.
While Phil Kessel was once again a unanimous choice at the top of the list, activity within the organization helped to create a higher level of talent at least at the top of our list. The draft day trade of Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for James VanRiemsdyk added another young forward of immense quality to the organization, as well as 5th overall draft pick Morgan Rielly, as both would make their first appearance on the countdown.
Now that we also had a previous set of rankings to refer back to, there was the added bonus of comparing and contrasting opinions from one list to the next.
Late-round prospect David Broll made the single largest jump up our rankings, moving from well down on the list at 38th the first time around, to on the edge of making the list, in 27th. The biggest drop was suffered by Kenny Ryan, after an underwhelming rookie season in the pros saw him fall from 23rd to a tie for last as a player not ranked by any of the seven voters.
The second list also featured one of my favourite single random votes, after a clerical error by Chemmy in his rankings led to little-regarded prospect Andrew Crescenzi receiving enough points to jump into our list, finishing 25th.
This list set the standard going forward that all lists would take place in the summer, with a new crop of draft picks and other summer movement allowed to be incorporated into the countdown, eliminating the potential for large variances due to a half season's worth of improvement.