Top 25 Under 25: #9 Anthony Cirelli is an all-around player who thrives in the spotlight

He’ll begin his professional career this season, but it won’t be long before Anthony Cirelli is in the Bolts lineup

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche 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.

Want to weigh in? Post your own fan ranking here!

Now that we’re into the top 10, we’re coming up on the players that we should be getting really excited about. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m already very excited about Oshawa Generals Legend and 2015 Memorial Cup Hero Anthony Cirelli.

I make no bones about my bias here, it’s not a coincidence that I had Cirelli ranked higher than everyone else at Raw Charge - he is my favourite OHL player in the past decade and maybe that might cloud my judgment. With all that said, Anthony Cirelli is an outstanding two-way center that can fill just about any role and is a player that Tampa Bay Lightning fans should be getting very excited about soon.

Since the day he was drafted, Anthony Cirelli’s stock has gone up, and it’s gone up significantly. He entered the draft with only 36 points in his OHL career after playing a 4th line role on a stacked Oshawa team. But then he just kept getting better with each new challenge that was thrown at him.

When players get described as a two-way forward, people often take that to mean they’re more suited for defensive roles. As a result, Cirelli is an underrated offensive player. He’s creative when carrying the puck and has the ability to create offense through controlled zone entries. He also has the ability to create scoring chances for both he and his linemates – something that really became apparent when he was teamed with more talented wingers in Erie.

He is a very slick skater that moves around the ice well both when he has the puck on his stick and when he’s forechecking against opponents.

While he’s a creative offensive player, it’s Cirelli’s all-around game that will get him to the NHL. He is a three-zone player that a coaching shouldn’t be afraid to play in any situation and thrives when going up against the opposition’s top players.

As good of a player as he is, Anthony Cirelli is a better teammate and fan favorite. As a second-year player in the OHL, Cirelli was named captain of the Generals - an accomplishment you very rarely see from an 18-year old in the CHL. He was a leader on and off the ice and became a player that the young fans in Oshawa adored.

Just how great is Cirelli as a member of the community? (Let me shift into fan mode again) After the World Juniors this past January, he knew he was being traded to Erie. Cirelli insisted that the teams delay the trade so that he could come home to Oshawa for one last home game after the WJC. It wasn’t just any game, he made sure it was the Sunday afternoon family game that is filled with kids. We all knew it was his last game in a Generals jersey. After the 4-1 victory, Cirelli came back out onto the ice and took an extra long lap to a standing ovation.

I have him higher on my list that the rest of the Raw Charge group. We all have him in the same general area; however, the writers that have him lower down are the ones that favoured more established players. Cirelli only has a handful of professional games under his belt, so he’s being judged on potential more than other guys that have full AHL seasons under their belts.

In Cirelli, the Bolts have a player that is likely to end up as a middle-6 forward that can kill penalties. What puts Cirelli high on my list (aside from the obvious homerism) is that he has the ability to play up and down the lineup as needed. He can fill in on a top line or power play if someone is missing due to injury, but he can also slot down into a checking role if the situation dictates.

This is the kind of player - and young man- you want to want in your organization. He’s hard working, extremely talented, and put his heart and soul into his team. He’ll be a Tampa Bay Lightning in the next few years, and you’ll be lucky to have him.