We enter year three of the Raw Charge Top 25 Under 25 series with the organization at a turning point.
Since 2013, Steven Stamkos has ranked as the #1 player on our list in both 2013 and 2014; this was a foregone conclusion. But after turning 25 in February of this year, he is no longer eligible. That means we'll get a new #1 in 2015 (though it may be just as obvious who that will be to some of you).
As per our usual rules:
- Players under the age of 25 (read: not yet 25 years old) as of August 1, 2015 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.
This year's panel consisted of four Raw Charge staffers -- John Fontana, GeoFitz4, Brett Frieman, and myself -- as well as Mike Gallimore from Bolt Prospects/Bolt Statistics. A grand total of 34 players were named on the 5 lists, up again from last year when just 30 players were ranked, further indicating the organization's continued strength in drafting and developing young talent and making the task of ranking the under-25 players a difficult one.
Based on the above rules, a handful of players from last year's series aged out. In addition to Steven Stamkos, the following players also turned 25 or will before August 1: Alex Killorn, J.T. Brown, and Luke Witkowski. Also not eligible on this year's list (some for age, as well) are Brett Connolly, Mark Barberio, Richard Panik, and Radko Gudas, who are all no longer with the Lightning organization.
That means an injection of new talent in this year's list. So who do you think will be the new #1? Who will be the biggest riser from the 2014 list? Biggest faller? And where do the 2015 NHL Draft selections like Mitchell Stephens, Matt Spencer, and Dennis Yan fit in?