Top 25 Under 25: #15 Dennis Yan turns pro as a prospect with significant potential

Syracuse Head Coach Ben Groulx will have his hands full with the sniper who will have to learn how to play both sides of the puck.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge writing staff. Four writers, plus a special guest, 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.

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In the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Lightning owned two third-round picks—the first of which was acquired in the deal that sent Eric Brewer to the Anaheim Ducks. It was used to select left winger Dennis Yan. The second, which was acquired in a deal that allowed the Lightning to move out of Round 1 from the 28th pick to the 33rd pick overall, was used to select center Anthony Cirelli.

In each of his three years in juniors, Dennis Yan has put up more than a point per game, 64 in his draft year, 69 the following year, and 75 this past year, in 59, 62, and 64 regular season games, respectively. He has also added 20 goals and 8 assists in 33 playoff games across that same time span for the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Yan will be joining the Syracuse Crunch this year and received a taste of pro life after his playoff run ended in the Q at the hands of the Val-d’Or Foreurs in Round 1. The Val-d’Or Foreurs eventually lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs in Round 2—the inevitable QMJHL Champions, who were led by veterans Mathieu Joseph and former Lighting prospect, Boko Imama.

Dennis is a pure sniper who has the potential to be a star scoring line winger in the NHL. However, the defensive deficiencies in his game are apparent. He lacks a two-way game at present, and the transition to the pro ranks will surely teach him that, as will a stern challenge from Syracuse Head Coach, Ben Groulx.

Yan has the ability to be a diamond in the rough from the 2015 Draft. If he can focus his attention on the defensive side of the puck throughout his development, he should be able to round out his game. As we know all too well, if you can’t play defense, Jon Cooper won’t play you; see: Drouin, Jonathan.

Some scouts referred to Yan as having first-round skill, so the fact that the Lightning got him with the 64th overall pick shows why some teams were wary of selecting him. Choosing him in the third round means that the Lightning could end up with a potential high-value pick, if his development progress to the point that he learns to become a sound two-way player.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing how much playing time Yan gets in the AHL this year, and it will likely be a few more years before he sees time in the NHL, if at all. He is still very much a project and will need plenty of pro seasoning before making the leap. In my eyes, he has boom-or-bust written all over him.