A couple of weeks ago, I announced that the Top 25 Devils Under 25 series would return for a third year in a row. Last year was the first time that the In Lou We Trust community decided the rankings thanks to a survey put together by John. We went with the same format again this year and are very pleased to see the number of participants in the survey went up from 133 in 2013 to 217 in 2014. I want to personally thank all of you for joining in and ranking a long list of 35 players.
Now is a great time to discuss the young players in the Devils system with training camp starting next week. A new year brings a fresh start and a chance for these players to start with a clean slate. A crowd-sourced ranking allows us to take a look at how we see these players at this moment in time. It will be interesting to look back on this in a year's time and see what players impressed and which disappointed. A reminder that you can see posts for the 2012 and 2013 lists with this link to the archives.
Below are the outsiders, ranked #35 to #26. Some of these players are prospects with limited upside, unlikely to pan out. Others are relatively unknown and will look to boost their stock in 2014-15. Others are players who are still looking to break out in minor professional hockey. Notably, four of the Devils six draft picks from the 2014 draft are on the outside looking in.
#35 Ryan Rehill - D - Age: 18 - 2013 Rank: NR - 2013-14 Team: Kamloops (WHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
The Devils drafted Rehill with their 5th round pick in the 2014 draft. It isn't surprising to see him ranked this low as he carries the label "defensive defenseman" who is known more for racking up the penalty minutes than moving the puck or contributing offensively. The Kamloops Blazers alternate captain even drew comparisons to Douglas Murray prior to the draft which won't excite many fans.
#34 Maxime Clermont - G - Age: 22 - 2013 Rank: 27 - 2013-14 Teams: Elmira (ECHL), Orlando (ECHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
Clermont is entering his fourth year of professional hockey and has struggled in the ECHL. It's no surprise to see him ranked second to last as he has a 89.49% save percentage in 99 career ECHL games. He'll turn 23 this December and is unlikely to become more than a minor league depth goaltender at this point.
#33 Joe Faust - D - Age: 22 - 2013 Rank: 38 - 2013-14 Team: Wisconsin (NCAA) - Elite Prospects Profile
Faust put up a career high 14 points last season for Wisconsin, after just having 8 points in his first 99 career games. Despite this he was ranked outside the top 25 once again due to his underwhelming time at Wisconsin. The Devils signed Faust to an AHL deal and hope he can prove himself in either Albany or with an ECHL affiliate in 2014-15.
#32 Brandon Baddock - LW - Age: 19 - 2013 Rank: NR - 2013-14 Team: Edmonton (WHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
The Devils picked up Baddock with their second 6th round pick in the 2014 draft. The 19 year old forward has averaged just 0.24 points-per-game in his WHL career though he did win the Memorial Cup with Edmonton last year. As his 128 penalty minutes in 56 games last year suggest, the 6'4, 215 lbs. Alberta product is mainly a physical player that has no problem dropping his gloves. With his limited upside and the use of enforcers becoming extinct at the NHL level, it's no surprise to see him ranked so low.
#31 Anthony Brodeur - G - Age: 19 - 2013 Rank: 32 - 2013-14 Team: Gatineau (QMJHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
The oldest son of Martin Brodeur, Anthony just wrapped up his rookie QMJHL season with Gatineau where he put up a 13-12-0 record with a 2.90 GAA, 88.7 SV%, and -6.01 GSAA. The former Shattuck St. Mary's product that wasn't ranked for his draft year was chosen by the Devils in the 7th round in 2013. He's a bit on the small side at 5'11, 194 lbs. but will have the opportunity to earn the starting role for Gatineau this year. Being a Brodeur helped him get some top 10 votes but it's not surprise that with his limited upside he had the most last place votes.
#30 David Wohlberg - C - Age: 24 - 2013 Rank: 25 - 2013-14 Team: Albany (AHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
The former University of Michigan alternate captain was taken by the Devils all the way back in the 2008 draft. Wohlberg was a consistent player in college, averaging around 30 points in about 40 games in each of his four seasons but was never able to improve on his freshman year from a point production standpoint. It is notable that he did play on the wing at times early in his collegiate career and that the added defensive responsibilities of center may have had a part to do with that lack of production. He has struggled to make it off of Albany's fourth line when in the line up and has just 21 points in 104 AHL games. With four new forwards coming into Albany in 2014-15, Wohlberg's time could be running out.
#29 Curtis Gedig - D - Age: 23 - 2013 Rank: 28 - 2013-14 Team: Ohio State (NCAA) - Elite Prospects Profile
The Devils 7th round pick from 2009 has come a long way since being drafted. Listed at 6'3, 201 lbs. Gedig is about to start his professional career with Albany in 2014-15. He previously spent the last four seasons at Ohio State where he captained the team in his last year and a half and played in all situations. Prior to college he spent some time rounding out his game in the BCHL. Gedig earned a lot of votes in the 18 to 33 range which is to be expected as he isn't a high profile name and is known mostly for being a defensive defenseman. He will have the chance to make a name for himself amongst the Devils prospects and could be a sleeper pick to succeed in 2014-15.
#28 Joey Dudek - C - Age: 18 - 2013 Rank: NR - 2013-14 Team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS) - Elite Prospects Profile
One of the higher picks in terms of potential for the Devils 2014 draft class, they grabbed Dudek with their first 6th round pick (thanks Krys Barch!). The center just completed prep hockey where had 44 points in 25 games as captain of Kimball Union Academy. He will spend a year developing with Dubuque in the USHL before moving onto Boston College in 2015-16. SBN College Hockey had this profile on Dudek where they praised his offensive skill but noted he needs to round out his defensive game. Devils fans got a look at his skill in this video of a scrimmage from prospect camp where he posted three assists. It should come as no surprise that his upside helped him earn some top 20 votes but he fell to outside the top 25 due to being a bit of a project pick.
#27 Raman Hrabarenka - D - Age: 22 - 2013 Rank: 35 - 2013-14 Team: Albany (AHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
The native of Belarus actually came to North America for his junior career, starting with Philadelphia in the EJHL in 2009-10 before spending 2010-12 in the QMJHL for Cape Breton and Drummondville. After impressing in training camp in 2012 as an undrafted free agent, the Devils signed him to a professional contract. The 22 year old possesses good size at 6'3, 212 lbs. and is coming off a solid half year for Albany where he put up 21 points in 48 games, leading the defense in scoring. He isn't a name that gets talked about when people discuss the future of the Devils defense, but will have the chance with Albany to force his name into the mix.
#26 Connor Chatham - RW - Age: 18 - 2013 Rank: NR - 2013-14 Team: Plymouth (OHL) - Elite Prospects Profile
Chatham just missed out on the top 25 in his first year in the organization. The 6'2, 225 lbs. winger was selected by the Devils in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. He put up 31 points in 54 games for Plymouth last year as a rookie and will try to lock down a more offensive role in 2014-15. Regardless, Chatham's physical game is what got him drafted and his "energy" is what can make him attractive to the Devils in the future.
John will a post covering #25 to #11 on Sunday and I'll follow up with the top 10 on Tuesday. For now, voice your opinion on the players that didn't make the top 25. Do you feel like any of these guys are ranked too low? Are you concerned about two-thirds of the 2014 class appearing outside of the top 25? Once again, thank you for participating in this year's ranking and reading along!