Top 25 Under 25: An Introduction

Jonathan Drouin and GM Steve Yzerman at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, New Jersey. - Bruce Bennett

Given the unprecedented depth at all positions in the Jeff Vinik/Steve Yzerman era, who are the current top 25 players under age 25 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization?

What began as idle musing by our fearless leader at Raw Charge, John Fontana, has become a full-time project for me. A "Top 25 Under 25" series is a mainstay at other SB Nation sites, but is something that Raw Charge has never participated in before. Perhaps that is fitting given the embarrassing lack of youth and depth in this organization's mostly bleak history.

(You can read John's Fanpost to see the genesis of this discussion.)

Modeling after some other SB Nation sites who have done Top 25 Under 25's before, the rules were as follows:

  1. Players under the age of 25 (read: not yet 25 years old) as of August 1, 2013 were eligible, and players in any league (NHL, AHL, ECHL, NCAA, CHL, Europe, etc.) were eligible as long as they met the age requirement.
  2. Each ranker on the panel submitted their list of 25 players to me based on their own personal interpretation of "Top 25", and each player ranked was assigned points. A 1st place rank got a player 25 points, a 2nd place rank 24, and so on.
  3. In the event of a tie, total votes received was the primary tiebreaker and highest vote received was the secondary tiebreaker.
  4. With all the lists collected and points tallied, I created the aggregate list that will follow this introduction post and a "near miss" post of players that received votes but didn't quite make the top 25.

The panel consisted of the following Raw Charge staffers -- John Fontana, Clare Austin, Clark Brooks, Patti McDonald and myself -- as well as Mike Gallimore of Bolt Prospects (and Bolt Statistics). A total of 28 players received votes for the top 25 on the panel's six lists.

While the depth of this organization is evident from our respective rankings, there is an (expected) consensus at the top, with 4 out of the 6 lists containing identical Top 3's. But beyond that, the wealth of talent on these lists, most of it drafted or signed by Yzerman, speaks volumes about how well the farm has been tended by the current regime. That fact is evidenced further by Corey Pronman's (of Hockey Prospectus) ranking of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as having the best pool of prospects in the NHL.

Furthermore, a number of quality players with decent shots of becoming NHL regulars missed the lists altogether, and as a result are not a part of the Top 25 -- players like James Mullin (4th round, 118th overall in 2010), Brian Hart (2nd round, 53rd overall in 2012), and Dylan Blujus (2nd round, 40th overall in 2012) will be covered soon in a "Near Misses" post detailing those players who just barely missed the cut for inclusion in the top 25.

So I'll ask you -- who is in your top 3? Who do you think missed the cut? Who is the highest ranked goalie, and where do you rank them among the bevy of talented young forwards?
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