August is nearly upon us which means it’s time for the annual All About the Jersey Top 25 Devils Under 25 ranking. The Devils are still an organization in the midst of a rebuild but managed to make the playoffs this past season during a transitional season. A large part of that was due to the performances of players under the age of 25. These players in order of youngest to oldest include Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood, Mirco Mueller, Steve Santini, Will Butcher, Damon Severson, and Stefan Noesen. Noesen turned 25 in mid-February so he’s aged out but the rest of these players are currently in the 19-23 range. The Devils prospect pool also saw numerous players take a step forward in their development last season while Ray Shero was also able to add in new blood to the system via the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. As usual, there is some turnover in this year’s list compared to last year’s. There are 13 players that are no longer eligible due to either age, trades, or free agency. There are 8 new players to add to this list - notably Will Butcher who wasn’t signed by New Jersey until last year’s list was already under way. We will use a combination of rankings from the AATJ writers as well as a survey for the community to give their rankings. Join us for the 7th annual AATJ Top 25 Under 25 list.
Recap of 2017 List
The Top 25 Under 25 list started in 2012 and has featured community involvement since 2013. Last year saw Damon Severson take the top spot followed by Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, Steve Santini, and Michael McLeod to round out the top 5. The rest of the top 10 included John Quenneville, Miles Wood, Joseph Blandisi, Blake Speers, and Mackenzie Blackwood. After an impressive rookie season by Nico Hischier, up and down seasons by a few of those players, and a breakout season for Miles Wood, this year’s top 10 will certainly look a different.
Here are the links to last year’s post on the Top 25 Under 25:
|Xavier Bernard||D||2018 Draft (4/110)||Drummondville (QMJHL)|
|Will Butcher||D||Free Agent (8/28/17)||New Jersey (NHL)|
|Mitchell Hoelscher||C||2018 Draft (6/172)||Ottawa (OHL)|
|Cam Johnson||G||Free Agent (3/24/18)||Binghamton (AHL)|
|Eetu Pakkila||LW||2018 Draft (7/203)||Karpat U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)|
|Akira Schmid||G||2018 Draft (5/136)||Lethbridge (WHL)|
|Yegor Sharangovich||C||2018 Draft (5/141)||Binghamton (AHL)|
|Ty Smith||D||2018 Draft (1/17)||Spokane (WHL)|
Ray Shero continued to rebuild the prospect pool despite only having 6 selections at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He grabbed one of the most talented defenders in the draft when Ty Smith fell to the Devils at 17th overall. He figures to return to the WHL but isn’t far off from making the NHL which I expect will be reflected in his ranking. Shero didn’t pick again until the 4th round but was able to find players that have upside and untapped potential. Xavier Bernard, Mitchell Hoelscher, and Eetu Pakkila all figure to spend the next few seasons in juniors, with Pakkila trying to earn a 1st team spot in his native Finland for Karpat. Akira Schmid will be leaving Switzerland to ply his trade with Lethbridge of the WHL which is an intriguing move. Yegor Sharangovich was drafted as a 20 year old but already has a full season of KHL play under his belt. His performance was enough to earn a contract with the Devils and he will look to make his mark in Binghamton this upcoming season. Will Butcher headlines the free agents though Devils fans already know all about him after a really strong 2017-18 rookie season for New Jersey. He’s only a “new addition” due to him signing with the Devils when last year’s list was already underway. Cam Johnson was signed last spring after an up and down collegiate career with North Dakota. He’ll look to earn playing time and further develop his game in Binghamton this upcoming season.
|Ken Appleby||G||Free Agent|
|Evan Cormier||G||Not Signed|
|Yaroslav Dyblenko||D||Contract Terminated|
|Name (ABC Order)||Position||DOB||9/15 Age||Contract/Notes|
|Xavier Bernard||D||1/6/2000||18.70||Rights Owned|
|Jesper Boqvist||C||10/30/1998||19.89||Rights Owned|
|Jocktan Chainey||D||9/8/1999||19.03||Rights Owned|
|Jeremy Davies||D||12/4/1996||21.79||Rights Owned|
|Matthew Hellickson||D||3/21/1998||20.50||Rights Owned|
|Mitchell Hoelscher||C||1/27/2000||18.65||Rights Owned|
|Mikhail Maltsev||C||3/12/1998||20.53||Rights Owned|
|Eetu Pakkila||LW||10/3/1999||18.96||Rights Owned|
|Nikita Popugaev||RW||11/20/1998||19.83||Rights Owned|
|Akira Schmid||G||5/12/2000||18.36||Rights Owned|
|Gilles Senn||G||3/1/1996||22.56||Rights Owned|
|Ty Smith||D||3/24/2000||18.49||Rights Owned|
|Aarne Talvitie||C||2/11/1999||19.61||Rights Owned|
|Reilly Walsh||D||4/21/1999||19.42||Rights Owned|
|Yegor Zaitsev||D||5/3/1998||20.38||Rights Owned|
|Fabian Zetterlund||RW||8/25/1999||19.07||Rights Owned|
John has set up this survey where you can go and rank all 40 players. Please make sure to rank all 40 players to avoid any fringe prospects getting a high ranking over legitimate NHL players. The survey will last for two weeks which should be ample time to get your rankings in. Casting your vote is as simple as clicking the drop down menu next to the player’s name and choosing the ranking you feel they deserve. You can also drag and drop players into the rankings that you see fit. Once you have all 40 ranked, just hit the “done” button on the bottom. We’ll start to post the results in a couple of weeks.
Give your opinion on these players in the comments below. Feel free to make a case for or against a player. What is your ranking strategy? How do you balance professional experience with raw potential? Thank you for reading and participating in the survey. Have fun ranking these players. I’m excited to see the list that the AAtJ community and writers come up with this year.