Casey Cizikas has had a long, interrupted journey to the land of NHL prospect signed to a three-year entry level contract. He's made it through trials (literally) to become captain of his junior team and gritty leader on Team Canada's World Junior team.
Islanders fans have high hopes for him, but not as some high-end scorer or dynamic playmaker. Rather, he's one of those rare young players who understand both sides of the game at an early age and plays with equal energy at both ends of the ice.
What's more, in contrast to the guy who throws hits and jumps on grenades because he does not have the hockey skills to get noticed any other way, Cizikas actually possesses some bonus offensive punch.
In short, he doesn't have the tools to be a great NHL player. But he already has the makings of an ideal 3rd or 4th line center. That's why he ended up #16 on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 poll.
|Top 25 Under 25
This one was pretty close to consensus. And a ranking around the 15-16 area is probably befitting a guy who looks likely to be an NHLer in a certain role, but who isn't expected to be a high-end or top-six type of guy.
Future: Cizikas is headed to Bridgeport for his first pro season, but the way he has excelled with each challenge thus far in his career, it's a good bet he'll adjust this year and make a serious challenge for an NHL job as soon as next season.
The silliest thing you can do is take one shift by a young player in a (mostly) amateur tournament and extrapolate big things. But still, this shift on the penalty kill against Russia was pretty awesome:
That shift demonstrates all the hockey cliches that get people giddy. And while they have no direct stat correlation (until they come up with one for "sheets of sandpaper expended," they do depict a kid who has a pretty good idea about this game.
Previous Posts in This Top 25 Under 25 Series
- Those who didn't make the Top 25
- #25: Anton Klementyev, D
- #24: Not to be Pedantic, but is it Andrei or Andrey Pedan, D
- #23: Mark Katic (D) shoulders the burden
#22: Rhett Rakhshani (W)
- #21: Matt Martin (LW), budding 'stache
- #20: Johan Sundström, C
- #19: David Ullström, C/W
- #18: Scott Mayfield, D
- #17: Kirill A: Kirill Petrov, W
The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived (I think) by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, soAndrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility.
For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard, mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking.