With another season in the books and some new prospects in the team's system, it's now time to update the Hurricanes "Top 25 Under 25" list. Lots of other blogs have done this and I always thought it was a good way to not only measure the progress of certain prospects, but to get a reading on the young talent in the organization, as well. The Hurricanes don't have a top ranked farm system by any means, but they do have a decent amount of young talent, some of which are already in the NHL, and it will be interesting to see how much progress they've made over the last calendar year.
Which players are trending in the right direction and who isn't? How well are some of these players developing? Are there any players who Canes fans should keep their radar on? How do these players compare to other NHL-ers? Is there anyone whose development is concerning at the moment? We'll answer those questions over the next month with this year's edition of the Hurricanes Top 25 Under 25.
Before we start analyzing these prospects, let's take a look at some players who were on the last list but missed the cut this year due to age, inexperience, performance or them not being with the organization anymore.
Last Year's Top 25 Under 25
1. Jordan Staal
2. Jeff Skinner
3. Justin Faulk
4. Ryan Murphy
5. Jamie McBain
6. Zac Dalpe
7. Bobby Sanguinetti
8. Jeremy Welsh
9. Jiri Tlusty
10. Danny Biega
11. Victor Rask
12. Zach Boychuk
13. Chris Terry
14. Drayson Bowman
15. Mark Alt
16. Evgenii Dadonov
17. Austin Levi
18. Brody Sutter
19. Phil Di Giuseppe
20. Mike Murphy
21. Keegan Lowe
22. Riley Nash
23. Beau Schmitz
24. Jerome Samson
25. Justin Shugg
Players Not Returning:
Jiri Tlusty – Tlusty turned 25 this past March, which makes him ineligible for the list and that's a damn shame because he is coming off a fantastic season. On the other hand, he is peaking at the right time and it's good to see some of the organization's young talent blossom into something great.
Jamie McBain – He also turned 25 this past year and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, so he wouldn't be on the list regardless.
Jerome Samson – Left for Winnipeg via free agency and is too old for the list anyway.
Bobby Sanguinetti – Turned 25 in February and signed with the KHL this past season.
Jeremy Welsh – Also turned 25 recently but I expect him to battle for an NHL spot next season.
Mike Murphy – The Hurricanes elected to sign him to a one-year deal and he is only 23, but he posted some bad numbers in seven games of KHL action and played only two games with the Checkers last year. He'll need to play more games and post some better numbers to find himself back in the rankings.
Evgenii Dadonov – He had a good season in the KHL with 37 points in 52 games, but there hasn't been any news about him returning to North America even though the Hurricanes still own his rights. Definitely good enough for the list, but it's hard to tell if he's part of the organization right now.
Beau Schmitz – It was tough to leave him off after how well he played with the Checkers during the final stretch of the season, but there were some others who I felt should go ahead of him. I still like Schmitz as a prospect, though.
Mark Alt – Traded to Philadelphia as a thank you gift for taking on Brian Boucher's contract.
Players Who Just Missed the Cut
Jaccob Slavin – Slavin had a great season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL and I nearly put him on the list. What made me leave him off is that he is 19 and has still yet to play in the NCAA or OHL. Not that playing well in the USHL is a bad thing, it's just that there are players his age who have played at higher levels.
Brent Pedersen – Was just drafted and put up some underwhelming offensive numbers in the OHL. He's only 18, though so we'll see where he is in another year.
Tommi Kivisto – Spent most of last saeson in the ECHL and didn't do much in 17 games with the Checkers. Was hoping he would be a little higher above the rest since he's young and has a few years of experience in the Swedish Elite league. Still plenty of time to improve, though.
Brendan Woods – Had only 5 goals and 12 points in 41 games in his sophomore season with the Wisconsin Badgers. He was playing a checking role and isn't really an offensive player, so that's not a big deal but I had a hard time putting him above some of the other players on the list. Although, the fact that he signed his entry level contract so early is encouraging and we should see in Charlotte next year.
Tyler Ganly – Like Pedersen, he was just drafted and doesn't have numbers or a skillset that really stands out compared to some of the other prospects. Although, scouting reports have talked about Ganly's improvement over the last year, so he could very well crack the next Top 25.
Collin Olson – Didn't get to play much during his freshman year at Ohio State, but that should be different next year.. He was also invited to Team USA's World Junior camp which should give fans some promise about his future.
Jared Staal – He may ahve a couple of NHL games under his belt, but Jared's track record still isn't hte most impressive compared to others. His ceiling is probably that of a checking line player at the NHL level and I think he might be lucky to get that far. Having NHL experience could help, though.
AJ Jenks – Played only 26 combined games last year and most of them were spent in the ECHL He also had a combined two goals and six points in those games, so that doesn't give you a lot of confidence in him making the jump to the next level. Good guy to have for AHL depth, though.