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Top 25 Under 25, #23: Matthew Spencer shouldn’t be forgotten on the Tampa Bay Lightning depth chart

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 1st, 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.

#23 Matthew Spencer

Matthew Spencer was drafted by the Lightning 44th overall in the 2015 draft and is another on the long list of OHLers in the system. At 20 years old, Spencer is likely finished with his junior career as his development seems to have stalled out playing for Peterborough in the OHL.

Drafted third overall in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Spencer is a guy that hasn’t lived up to the potential some saw in his as a 16-year old. There are some scouts that expected Spencer to materialize into one of the best prospects in hockey, but after four years of junior, he is going to have to show a lot in Syracuse to prove that he has legitimate NHL potential.

Full disclosure, I am an Oshawa Generals fan and as a result, I am pre-disposed to hate everything about the Peterborough Petes. With that said, I truly believe that Matthew Spencer is going to prove doubters wrong and take the leap in development onlookers have been waiting for.

At 6’2 and 205lbs, Spencer is already built like a professional hockey player. He’s strong both on the puck and while defending, though he will have to prove that his strength can transition to bigger opponents.

Spencer is a very smart player that shows great instincts both with and without the puck. He’s very strong in transition and has a great ability to push the play from defense to offense. He’ll never lead his team’ defensemen in scoring, but he has the ability to supplement great defensive play with the kind of offense you’d expect from a bottom-4 defender in the NHL.

His ability to play an all-around game, likely caused issues in Peterborough this season. Spencer probably suffered from having played too many minutes. He was relied upon to be their #1 in every situation and his play suffered at times because he was overextended. Next season in Syracuse, Spencer will be eased into a smaller role – something that his play should benefit from.

In an age when right-handed defenders seem to be at a premium in the NHL, a player with Spencer’s talent and drive should not be forgotten in the system. Though he’s become a bit of a forgotten man in the Lightning system, he’ll make the transition to professional hockey this season and I have a feeling he’s going to be a lot higher on the list next summer.

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