The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge community. Ten writers and 106 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.
Alexey Lipanov finished 22nd in last year’s ranking. It shows that both writers and readers had high expectations about this player. it is understandable to think that when Steve Yzerman picks a skilled Russian forward in the 2nd or 3rd round, there is a chance that he could become a decent player. But his first steps in North American hockey weren’t really easy.
Alexey doesn’t have size. He is a 6’0” and 170 pound center-forward, but his strengths are speed, puck skills, and high hockey IQ. Probably his size was one of the reasons why he dropped to the 3rd round in the 2017 Entry Draft. According to his words, his role model is Jonathan Toews.
Alexey signed a contract with Barrie Colts just one day after the 2017 Entry Draft, where he joined his fellow Russians Andrei Svechnikov and Kirill Nizhnikov. He even played one game with the NHL team in the preseason and Tampa Bay Lightning signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract in late September.
His start of the season in the OHL was very promising. He had been playing on the same line with Andrey Svechnikov, future second-overall draft pick, and with another Russian, Kirill Nizhnikov, and posted good numbers: close to one point per game. That was enough to make the Russian Junior National Team roster for 2017 CIBS Canada/Russia Series. He played two games, scored two assists, and made a good impression at the tournament.
Svechnikov suffered a broken hand after his first ten games and missed a couple of months. After that injury, Lipanov has struggled with a little slump due to changing linemates, and finished some games without posting a single point.
He was also named to the preliminary roster for World Juniors but didn’t make the final roster.
In January he was traded to Sudbury Wolves for Dmitry Sokolov. He posted overall records of 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 35 games in Barry Colts.
#TRADEALERT: The Sudbury Wolves are pleased to announce the acquisition of 18-year-old centre Alexey Lipanov from the @OHLBarrieColts in exchange for Dmitry Sokolov & conditionally Owen Sound's 3rd round selection in 2022. Read More: https://t.co/7d8pgJooLC pic.twitter.com/oBkYWIX5lY— Sudbury Wolves (@Sudbury_Wolves) January 10, 2018
In Sudbury his slump has continued, he had just 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 20 points at the end of the season.
After the end of the season in the OHL, Lipanov was invited to some practices with Syracuse Crunch. He scored three assists in ten games for Syracuse and helped the team when some players were injured, but didn’t get a chance to play in the playoffs.
Lipanov ended last season on a positive note. He joined the Russian U-20 national team for the tournament in Sochi and was named a captain.
Alexey is still very young. He turns 19 in August and still has a lot of time to improve his game. He needs to work on his physical condition. Lipanov’s season was probably spoiled due to injury of his linemate Andrey Svechnikov and following trade to another team. He will likely spend another season in the OHL and it will be very interesting to watch if he will find chemistry with his teammates.