Every year the Top 25 Under 25 list loses a few names, and it’s because time caught up with them, or they never cracked the Leafs lineup. It’s usually not a sad moment, but this year there is the bittersweet story of Ian Scott, so I’ll start there with the four players who have left the Leafs’ system.
Scott announced just a few weeks ago that he was leaving hockey. After injuries, surgery and a valiant attempt to return to the sport, he’s moved on. No one ever wants to see this be the reason a drafted prospect leaves, but he needs to do what works for him.
Menell is both too old and no longer in the Leafs system. He was surprisingly ranked last year based on name recognition, some misunderstood KHL points, and the belief that a trade for a conditional pick meant he was going to turn out to be viable depth. He did not do that. He split his season between the Marlies and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after a trade for no return to the Flyers late in the season. The pick that wasn’t given up for him (the condition was games played in the NHL) was used to draft Brandon Lisowsky, a player I am so tempted to make my Veeti Miettinen, I might rank him. Menell is currently without a contract.
It’s been so long, I wonder how many remember Joe Duszak came to the attention of the Maple Leafs as an undrafted player because he was buddies with Jeremy Bracco. They are both from Long Island and played together as children.
Duszak became almost as controversial in his time as Bracco, and I’ve seen more than one member of the media — who should know better — who thought his pile of assists in his final year on the Marlies meant he was NHL bound. We had stopped ranking him, but I wonder where we’d put him this year if the Leafs had kept him. He’s almost too old, having turned 25 after July 1, so he’d make the T25 again, just. He’s also without a contract after going unqualified by the Maple Leafs as an RFA.
It surprises me that Rubīns has left. I thought he was on his way to being that almost successful project who becomes the veteran on the AHL team everyone loves. He would still be T25 eligible for one more year as well. But he’s now an Ottawa/Belleville Senator, after the Leafs didn’t qualify him, and the Senators snatched him up. He barely needs to move to play in Belleville, and as a top pairing defender on the Latvian national team, he’s got the potential to fill in on the NHL Senators if they really need depth. I expect to see him “reconnecting” with his friends on the Marlies once in a while this season.
There are also three players still on the Leafs roster or reserve list who just got old. The first greybeard is the grand champion argument starter on this site. Or is that Nylander?
Four months older than Auston Matthews, Marner aged out this year. We ranked him on seven lists, the same seven where Matthews was first, and he was third twice (to Nylander), tied (with Nylander) once and second four times (with Nylander third until he aged out first).
The oldest person in last year’s T25 aged out this year after going unranked. Would we have voted him in if that scrappy NHL performance had come before not after? I bet we would have, but we have new goalies to try to make the focus of our crystal balls. Källgren should be the AHL starter this season unless disaster strikes the Leafs tandem, which seems really improbable given the history of the team and the players involved.
One of several Russians drafted around the same time, Bobylyov has aged out while remaining on the reserve list with indefinite rights. He had a decent number of assists in the WHL, and had one outlier goal-scoring year handily right before he was drafted, but he’s proven over the years to be a journeyman VHL player in Russia.
Like usual, the new faces are more exciting than the exiting players. Although how many not quite good enough prospects does one Mitch Marner (or William Nylander) make up for?
Barring other roster moves, Joe Woll will become the oldest eligible player next year and five eligible players will age out.