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2021 Top 25 Under 25 Eligibility List

It’s that time of the year again!

NHL: JUN 27 Arizona Coyotes Development Camp
So new to the team, we don’t even have a picture in blue, but he’s also the oldest name on the list.
Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s August, hockey fans, and that means one thing! Okay, this year, it also means the Women’s World Championship is coming up soon, but it means it’s time for the Top 25 Under 25.

Last year was a confusing and strange offseason, split into two parts, and we compensated with the entertainment of two T25 lists — a summer one before the draft and a winter one after free agency was over and rosters were mostly set. This year, as the world tries to get back on schedule, we’re having one T25 event at more or less the usual time.

Very soon the community vote post will go up, the official voters will get the final countdown to put in their last tweaks on their votes, and before you know it, we’ll be talking about who didn’t make the list before we begin counting down to our mystery number one player under 25. That should kick off next week.

The eligibility rules are very straightforward: All players either under NHL contract for the current year or for whom the Maple Leafs have signing rights who were under 25 on July 1 are eligible. If that player you like is not on this list below the possible reasons are: he’s older than you think; he’s not actually a member of the Leafs; his signing rights have expired or we missed him on the list. Feel free to check on that and tell us if we made a mistake.

This exercise is an old one, with the first list dating to 2012. That means that some of the things that were true about the NHL at that time, or about the Leafs, aren’t so true now. One major change in hockey is that younger players make the NHL earlier and play more games at younger ages. They either become the stars of the team or they’re known quantities by the time their waiver exemption expires.

If we were doing a pure prospects list, the age limit would be lower than 25, and then we’d have an argument about who is and is not a prospect. We’ve changed some things about how we tabulate votes, and how we do community voting over the years, but leaving the eligibility age the same gives a continuity to the lists that shows how the team itself has changed over the years.

This year’s list is 45 names, which is exactly the same number as in the Winter 2020 T25. Not exactly the same people, but the numbers of exits and entrances lined up. Here they are:

2021 T25 Eligible Players

Player Winter 2020 Rank Birth Date Age in Days on July 1, 2021 Nationality Position Career NHL Games Played
Player Winter 2020 Rank Birth Date Age in Days on July 1, 2021 Nationality Position Career NHL Games Played
Erik Källgren N/A October 14, 1996 9,026 Sweden G
Travis Dermott 9 December 22, 1996 8,957 Canada LD 208
Denis Malgin 20 January 18, 1997 8,930 Switzerland W 192
Vladimir Bobylev NR April 18, 1997 8,840 Russia W
Mitch Marner 2 May 5, 1997 8,823 Canada W 355
Brennan Menell N/A May 24, 1997 8,804 USA D 5
Joseph Duszak NR July 22, 1997 8,745 USA RD
Nikolai Chebykin NR August 1, 1997 8,735 Russia W
Auston Matthews 1 September 17, 1997 8,688 USA C 334
Kristians Rubins NR December 11, 1997 8,603 Latvia LD
Vladislav Kara NR April 20, 1998 8,473 Russia C
Joey Anderson 14 June 19, 1998 8,413 USA RW 53
Joseph Woll NR July 12, 1998 8,390 USA G 1
Mac Hollowell 24 September 26, 1998 8,314 Canada RD
Ian Scott NR January 11, 1999 8,207 Canada G
Pontus Holmberg 25 March 9, 1999 8,150 Sweden C/W
Ryan O’Connell NR April 25, 1999 8,103 Canada LD
Timothy Liljegren 7 April 30, 1999 8,098 Sweden RD 13
Nicholas Abruzzese 16 June 4, 1999 8,063 USA C
Filip Král 23 October 20, 1999 7,925 Czech Republic LD
Alex Steeves N/A December 10, 1999 7,874 USA C
Semyon Kizimov NR January 19, 2000 7,834 Russia C/W
Pavel Gogolev N/A February 19, 2000 7,803 Russia LW
Rasmus Sandin 4 March 7, 2000 7,786 Sweden LD 37
Axel Rindell NR April 23, 2000 7,739 Finland RD
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev 18 September 15, 2000 7,594 Russia C/W
Mikko Kokkonen 13 January 18, 2001 7,469 Finland LD
Kalle Loponen NR March 13, 2001 7,415 Finland RD
Mikhail Abramov 10 March 26, 2001 7,402 Russia C
Michael Koster NR April 13, 2001 7,384 USA LD
John Fusco NR June 12, 2001 7,324 USA LD
Nicholas Robertson 5 September 11, 2001 7,233 USA W 6
Veeti Miettinen 22 September 20, 2001 7,224 Finland RW
Rodion Amirov 6 October 2, 2001 7,212 Russia LW
Artur Akhtyamov 21 October 31, 2001 7,183 Russia G
Roni Hirvonen 11 January 10, 2002 7,112 Finland C
Ryan Tverberg NR January 30, 2002 7,092 Canada C
William Villeneuve NR March 20, 2002 7,043 Canada RD
Topi Niemelä 12 May 25, 2002 6,977 Finland RD
Wyatt Schingoethe NR August 3, 2002 6,907 USA C
Dmitri Ovchinnikov 19 August 19, 2002 6,891 Russia F
Vyacheslav Peksa N/A August 27, 2002 6,883 Russia G
Joe Miller NR September 15, 2002 6,864 USA F
Matthew Knies N/A October 17, 2002 6,832 USA LW
Ty Voit N/A June 10, 2003 6,596 USA LW

The most notable graduation off the list is William Nylander. Also gone from the winter top 10 is Filip Hållander, traded back to Pittsburgh. Notable additions are the three players drafted this summer: Matthew Knies, Ty Voit and Vyacheslav Peksa.

Brennan Menell, acquired via trade, just makes the age cut, and free agent Erik Källgren becomes the oldest player on the list in what will be his only appearance. Joining him as the only players born in 1996 is Travis Dermott, and Voit is the youngest player, and only one born in 2003.

The split between full time NHLer or not there at all is very stark this year. There are not a lot of players being eased in at this stage of the Maple Leafs post-rebuild. And the clock is ticking on a lot of players who are off in the Europe or the AHL and who we sometimes forget have gotten older along with the rest of us.

Joe Duszak and new defender Menell are two months apart in age. Joey Anderson and Joe Woll are both considerably older than Rasmus Sandin. Newly signed Pavel Gogolev, is also a little older.

Two late round picks in 2020, Wyatt Schinigoethe and Dmitri Ovchinnikov, are almost the same age as this year’s second-round pick Knies.

Nick Robertson is way, way down this list by age, in the bottom third, so maybe the fact he hasn’t lit up the NHL yet isn’t quite the problem we sometimes think it is. The most famous late-round pick from the NCAA, Veeti Miettinen, is the same age. So is Rodion Amirov.

Next year, the six oldest players on this list graduate, which means this is the last Mitch Marner year, but not the last Auston Matthews year. Given that, our hope as fans of the Leafs has to be that someone on this list grabs an NHL roster spot and keeps it, or else the NHL experience on next year’s T25 will be very limited.

That’s Kyle Dubas’s problem for the next season, our focus right now should be on arguing about which of these young players is going to take a big leap this year, and which of them is yesterday’s dream.