The 2014 edition of our Top 25 Under 25 gets underway. Who are the current top 25 players under age 25 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization? Who raised their stock in the last 12 months, and who is on a downward trend?
When I started as a staff writer with Raw Charge last September, my first project was to begin a Top 25 Under 25 series, something many other SB Nation sites undertake. It was a first for Raw Charge, and despite getting off track and not finishing until April, it was a worthwhile endeavor and one we're undertaking again in the dog days of summer.
Players under the age of 25 (read: not yet 25 years old) as of August 1, 2014 were eligible, and players in any league (NHL, AHL, ECHL, NCAA, CHL, Europe, etc.) were eligible as long as they met the age requirement.
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.
In the event of a tie, total votes received was the primary tiebreaker and highest vote received was the secondary tiebreaker.
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, and myself, as well as Mike Gallimore of Bolt Prospects and Bolt Statistics. A total of 30 players (two more than last year) received votes for the top 25 on the panel's five lists.
Based on the above rules, there were only two players from last year's list that were not eligible for this year's. The first is Keith Aulie (#25 last year), who is disqualified both by his age and by the fact that he is now with the Edmonton Oilers after not getting a qualifying offer from the Lightning and leaving in unrestricted free agency. The second is defenseman Dmitry Korobov (#18 last year), who left North America to return to the KHL. Though the Lightning still retain his NHL rights, he was ineligible for ranking this year because of his age.
The Lightning organization continues to enjoy an embarrassment of riches in terms of under-25 talent, with the entire top-15 from last year's aggregate list still eligible to be ranked in this year's edition. That doesn't necessarily mean that the rankings remained the same, however, as some players showed great improvement over the past year and others failed to live up to expectations.
Who do you think was the biggest riser? Biggest faller? Where does the first goaltender come in? And do any of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft selections make it into the list, and if so, who would you rank the highest? Anthony DeAngelo, Dominik Masin, Johnathan MacLeod, Brayden Point? Or maybe someone else entirely?
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