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Top 25 Under 25: #7: Mathieu Joseph

The forward rockets up our chart on the heels of a great rookie season.

Syracuse Crunch Mathieu Joseph (7) looking to make a play against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Rochester won 3-2 in Overtime.
Scott Thomas Photography

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.

In the interest of complete and total transparency, I just want to admit one thing: I love Mathieu Joseph. Thankfully for my integrity as a hockey blogger, it appears I’m not alone.

Joseph has certainly earned himself a fair amount of fans, especially after his rookie season with the Syracuse Crunch. Originally a 4th round draft pick in 2015 for the Lightning, Joseph took the chances Crunch head coach Ben Groulx gave his young players this past season and ran with them. He turned in one of the best rookie performances in Syracuse in recent memory, capping it off with being named the named CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month in March.

All in all, he certainly got himself noticed.

The readers of Raw Charge collectively ranked Joseph 10th among the prospects eligible for this year’s Top 25 countdown. The writers had him ranked between 6th and 12th, with a clustering around 7th/8th. For the most part, many in Lightning Land seem to agree that Joseph has a lot of potential, maybe even more so than originally figured when he was drafted.

I first saw Joseph before he even reached Syracuse. He attended Le Boot Camp in Quebec City and he impressed me immediately. I knew to look for him because he was a prospect; I kept watching him because he was often easily the quickest, most talented player on the ice. He easily kept up with the veteran professionals around him, and often bamboozled even the most talented goalie in attendance. His quick hands and high hockey IQ impressed fans and players alike.

Those positive impressions didn’t end in QC. Like the rest of the 2017-18 Crunch roster, Joseph took a bit to warm up when he arrived in Syracuse this past season. Once he got going, though, he never took a break. By the end of the season, he would finish tied for 4th place among all AHL rookies in points with 53, a total that not only put him first in that category among Crunch rookie, but also first among all players on the team. He ended 4th on the Crunch in goals, and first in assists. He had 12 multi-point games throughout the regular season.

Last summer, Geo pointed out that Joseph’s ceiling had risen in the years since he was drafted:

With Joseph’s offense taking such great strides the past two seasons, his future is looking a bit higher than it was when he was drafted. He was viewed as being a potential third line, energy winger that played a pretty smart two-way game at the time. Since then, he has more of the looks of a player that can end up on the second line and contribute on the power play.

Looking at what Joseph went on to do during his rookie season in the AHL, I’d say that projection is still right on the money. It will certainly be exciting to see where Joseph goes this season. Although it’s unlikely he makes the Lightning out of training camp, I’d bet he at least gets a cup of coffee in at some point.