This year’s Top 25 Under 25 list of Maple Leafs players and prospects is unusual in many ways, not least because it’s short. All of the draft picks not considered in a theoretical way on the list would have likely been unranked players. It’s possible some would have gotten a vote or two, but it would be very unusual for any of them to get any attention as late-round, faint-hope draftees. Adding them to the unranked leaves us with about the usual number of choices there, but the list of honourable mentions is surprisingly short.
As we’ll learn as the 25 names are counted down to our mystery number one player, there’s more agreement than usual. Not in order — our 12 voters managed to get a spread in votes of 11 and 10 for two choices everyone voted for. But the number of players that had 11 or 12 voters rank them is most of the T25 list, which leaves very few who fell into the partially ranked category that covers the bottom of the list and the honourable mentions who don’t make it.
As we say every year, that group of players ranked by some voters, but not all should be considered virtual ties. This year, as we’ve outlined before, we changed our tabulation policy a little. The old process, which heavily weighted an unranked vote could drop a player off the list if they had higher votes than their nearest neighbour in raw ranking, but one more unranked vote. By making the worst you can get essentially a ranking of 26, that’s less likely to happen, and I think most people think this new way is more reflective of the true voter ranking.
You might be about to change your minds on that.
Once we’ve gone through all the players that had fewer than 12 votes in the coming weeks, we’ll give you more details on how the old style of tabulation and this year’s played out, but one player is on the list in the old method and is not in the new, and that player is Joseph Woll. He leads our list of honourable mentions today.
Tied in 26th place: Joseph Woll and Ian Scott
These two goalies ended up with the same average ranking in our new system, 24.5, but they got there by different paths. Woll had eight people vote for him, Scott six, but Scott’s raw average of votes received was just a touch higher, enough to leave them tied.
These two players ranked 16 and 17 last year, were unranked in 2018 and Woll tied for 25th in 2017 with Rinat Valiev.
Tied in 28th place: Kristians Rubins and Michael Koster
These two very different defencemen, Rubins an undrafted free agent promoted out of the ECHL, and Koster a prospect drafted last year, ended up with an average ranking of 25. Rubins had five votes and Koster four, with Koster’s raw average of votes cast 0.6 higher than Rubins. Koster was not ranked last year.
30th place: 2020 Vegas 5th-Round Pick
The fifth-round pick only got one vote and ended with an average rank of 25.42 out of a possible 26. The only thing left to say about this is that it’s telling how many people thought the fourth-round picks were more likely to turn into a better player than this one despite most evidence saying that’s highly improbable.
31st place: Kalle Loponen
Drafted last year in the seventh round, this defender got two votes, and finished with an average ranking of 25.5. He was unranked last year.
32nd place: Max Veronneau
Veronneau, the oldest and newest player on the list, who we saw play three games in the AHL, is possibly the hardest to honestly rank against prospects. He got one vote and finished with an average rank of 25.92. One curiosity of this year’s vote is that there are no players who did not receive at least one ranking in the Community vote. Veronneau had 41 votes of rank 25 or higher.
We’ll have some more “case for” articles about these players in the coming days, along with the first few players on the T25 list beginning on Monday. Until then, you’ll have to make your case for Max Veronneau in the comments.