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Top 25 Under 25: #24 Joel Vermin

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Forward Joel Vermin breaks into our Top 25 after missing out on the list completely last season.

Syracuse Crunch forward Joel Vermin is number 24 on our Top 25 Under 25 list
Syracuse Crunch forward Joel Vermin is number 24 on our Top 25 Under 25 list
Scott Thomas

When Joel Vermin was not drafted in 2012 despite a fairly productive year with Bern of the Swiss-A league - 20 points in 33 games - he probably figured he had some work to do to get more attention. The next season, Vermin played in 47 games for Bern and totaled 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists). The effort was enough to get noticed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he was selected by them in the seventh round (186th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Vermin signed a three-year entry-level contract with Tampa Bay in September 2013, but burned a year of that contract when was loaned to Bern for the season. He played in 49 contests and totaled 18 points. He did make the jump to North America at the end of that season, getting in 8 games with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. He scored one goal before the Crunch's season ended without a playoff run.

Those 8 games were not enough for Vermin to make it onto our Top 25 rankings last summer, not even onto our list of near misses. Panel members just hadn't seen enough of the Swiss-born winger to feel confident ranking him. However, with a full season in the AHL now under his belt, Vermin has leap-frogged teammate Tanner Richard to clock in at number 24 on our list.

Here's how the panel ranked Joel Vermin:

Kyle Alexander John Fontana Mike Gallimore GeoFitz4 Brett Frieman
NR 21 NR 21 24

Previous ranks: N/A

Vermin ended the season 6th on the Crunch in scoring with 12 goals, 21 assists, and 33 points in 73 games. He had one assist during the Crunch's doomed playoff campaign, which ended abruptly with a first-round sweep.

Vermin started off at a fairly good pace, scoring 8 goals in the first four months of the season. Three of those eight goals came in November alone. But then his pace slowed noticeably, with just 4 more goals dribbling in over the course of February, March, and April.

It's easy to imagine that adjusting to the AHL schedule was a challenge for him. The AHL plays about 25 more games than Vermin was used to playing in the Swiss-A league. Hockey's Future agreed with this assessment, stating the following:

Vermin is an average size, skill forward with some offensive elements to his game. He is not overly physical and can be a streak scorer at times. He seemed to lose energy playing the longer North American season in his first year with AHL affiliate Syracuse but should add more stamina as he becomes more accustomed to the demands of the longer season and increases his fitness level.

With one full season in the AHL completed, Vermin should be set up for more success this fall. He's versatile, and only missed one of the Crunch's games last season, so the coaching staff clearly has confidence in his abilities. Vermin was among the group recalled by the Lightning to join their Black Aces squad during their playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final this past spring, which bodes well for his place in organization.

However, Bolt Prospects warns that while Tampa has shown patience with him so far, time is ticking away:

With many younger forwards dotting the roster and seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart, he'll need to have a pretty splashy second campaign with the Crunch - the third and final of his entry-level contract - to get his name into the mix for time with the Lightning.