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Maple Leafs' Top 25 Under 25: 2013 Off-season In Review

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Another look back at a previous version of our countdown.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The third edition of the countdown, completed in the wake of the disastrous 2013 off-season, definitely had a more sombre and cynical tone to it.

I'll fully admit; I wasn't happy with the team's direction at the time, and I and many others who voted (expanded to nine voters this time) were fairly pessimistic about the crop of under-25 players the Leafs had to offer (reminder this was around the time Darren Dreger would repeatedly crow about how this was among the "youngest teams in the league").

As it turns out, I think our cynicism was largely warranted. Enough touchdown dances have been performed on Dave Nonis' tenure as Leafs GM, but also that the prospect pool at the time was simply not nearly adequate enough to continue to grow the team. To date, this is far and away the weakest pool we had to choose from.

Link to Full Results Here

Obviously, one of the biggest factors in the decrease in quality in this list is that Phil Kessel was no longer eligible. Having received every first-place vote available in both previous editions, his departure from this exercise did open the list up to a bit more variance, but in the end the next tier of prospects would split some votes, but would all just move over one chair, and James Van Riemsdyk was crowned the winner of the 3rd edition of the Top 25 Under 25.

The other interesting aspect of this edition's list was how much internal growth there was.

A significant amount of players were graduated and/or moved on from the previous years' list, resulting in 18 players returning to the prior list and moving up in our list, including 14th ranked Tony Cameranesi (after a point-per-game freshman campaign in the NCAA) and Otters forward Connor Brown (who made significant strides in his first post-draft OHL season) who both jumped 14 places.

The list also featured the first (and so far only) time a prospect fell off the list only to return to it. Kenny Ryan had fallen off after an uninspiring rookie pro season (spent mostly in the AHL), but after appearing to carve out a niche in the AHL, he popped into the 25th spot.