Yesterday, John revealed the players that just missed out on the ILWT Top 25 Devils Under 25. This post will release the bottom 5 players in this year's rankings. All of these players were in last year's top 25 with two of them virtually reclaiming their respective rankings. Let's take a look at who they are.
#25 - Miles Wood - LW - Age: 19 - 2014-15 Team: Noble & Greenough (USHS) - 2014 Rank: 24 - Elite Prospects Profile
Miles Wood fell a spot in the rankings but I think that has more to do with the influx of young talent the Devils have added to the organization over the last several months than his own play. By all accounts, 2014-15 was a successful year for Wood despite still playing prep hockey at the age of 19. He once again dominated his competition with 17 goals and 18 assists in 17 games with Nobles. The real encouraging development from last year's campaign was being named to the US WJC team. While he didn't record any points in the WJC, he did show off his great skating, offensive instincts, and physical play in the pre-tournament games before taking a bit of a lesser role once the tournament started. He'll have a great opportunity to claim a top 9, perhaps even top 6, role with Boston College to start his freshman season this fall. A year of college hockey should help us find out where he really is developmental wise and what type of player the Devils have in him.
#24 - Blake Coleman - C - Age: 23 - 2014-15 Team: Miami University (NCHC)- 2014 Rank: 16 - Elite Prospects Profile
Blake Coleman fell 8 spots in this year's ranking compared to last year's. While some of that may have to do with the new players in the organization, his decrease in production as a senior probably also played a part. He saw his SH/GP fall from 4.07 as a junior to 3.43 as a senior. His SH% was still high in his senior year (15.75%) but was slight drop off from his junior season (17.27%). Still, he managed 20 goals and 17 assists in 37 games as a senior while maintaining a 61.2% FO%. In the end the 23 year old managed to be among the NCHC best players last season. Coleman is known for his north-south physical style of play and goal scorer's touch. I'm interested in seeing if he stays at center in Albany or if they try him out on the wing so he can focus more on being the volume shooter that he was in college. He turns 24 in late November and doesn't stand to have much development left. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a look on New Jersey's 4th line sooner than later should they need to call up players from Albany.
#23 - Reece Scarlett - D - Age: 22 - 2014-15 Team: Albany (AHL) - 2014 Rank: 13 - Elite Prospects Profile
Falling 10 spots in this year's ranking is Reece Scarlett. The former standout defender for the Swift Current Broncos will be entering his 3rd season with Albany. In 105 AHL games he has put up 8 goals and 37 assists which falls in line with his career WHL production. The 22 year-old has become a solid option for Albany but has a limited ceiling for potential at the NHL level. He's also below numerous players, both old and new additions, on the depth chart and could very well be passed by college players Steve Santini and Josh Jacobs by this time next year if they go pro. At this point in time it appears like he will be a solid pro defenseman but the question remains, how much of an impact can he have at the next level?
#22 - Graham Black - C - Age: 22 - 2014-15 Team: Albany (AHL) - 2014 Rank: 11 - Elite Prospects Profile
Graham Black is another ex-Swift Current Bronco that fell a bit in this year's ranking. After an up and down junior career that saw him battle Graves' disease, the center moved on to Albany last year for his rookie season in professional hockey. The results were a bit mixed. He missed some training camp and early season games last season due to illness and injury but was fairly solid in November and December with 4 goals, 5 assists, and an average of 1.82 shots per game over the course of 23 games. Unfortunately, he would miss a fair amount of time over the next 2 months due to a wrist injury. He was able to play more consistently in March and April but managed just 2 assists over those 12 games to close out his season. Black is a skilled center, who seems to have put his concerns with Graves' disease behind him, but with all the new talent joining Albany this season, he will really need to stay healthy to claim a consistent spot in the starting line up. Hopefully for his sake, he can have an injury free season and show what he can do at the AHL level when fully healthy.
#21 - Ryan Kujawinski - C - Age: 20 - 2014-15 Teams: Kingston/North Bay (OHL) - 2014 Rank: 21 - Elite Prospects Profile
Ryan Kujawinski was ranked 21st last year and that's where he finished this year. The large, skilled center has been a bit of an enigma at times in his junior career. There have been times when he's shown the talent level that made him a 4th overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection Draft in 2011 and there have been times when his play has suggests that he's an average OHL player. Last season saw him put up 23 points in 27 games with Kingston before a trade to North Bay where he would put up 36 points in 34 games. CHL Stats had him finishing 51st in age-adjusted points per game among OHL forwards with at least 50 games played. Overall, Kujawinski had a fine season and was more consistent, but he still left fans wanting a bit more and wondering how his game will translate to Albany for this upcoming season. He'll have an opportunity to claim a spot in Albany's starting line up and to showcase his size (6'2, 207) and skill. The question remains, will he be able to produce enough at the next level to warrant hopes for a NHL future? We'll have to wait and see.
As John mentioned yesterday, we will be releasing these rankings in sets of five. As we move along, you'll probably be able to guess where some players finished as the list narrows. It was interesting to see where the new players in the organization where ranked as well as how some of the guys from last year's list moved positions both up and down. As you wait on the next set of five, tell me what you think about these players ranked above. Which rankings do you agree and disagree with? Did any of them surprise you? Which of these players do you feel has a decent chance of contributing in the NHL one day? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!