Our last Top 25 Under 25 listing was a guy whose preseason injury sets his career back at the wrong time. While Rhett Rakhshani's concussion is nowhere near as significant as Mark Katic's dislocated shoulder, it still hampers what Rakhshani surely saw as a serious bid to make the NHL roster.
Rakhshani still has time -- he's back skating now and is likely to play vs. the Flames Tuesday -- but our panel's vote, taken before the concussion, puts him at #22 on our list.
Despite his offensive talent displayed in college and last year as Bridgeport's leading scorer as a rookie (62 points in 66 games), there is concern over whether he'll be good enough to get offensive opportunities at the NHL level -- and if not, whether his smaller frame equips him to handle lesser NHL roles.
Whether mistakenly or not, the concussions experienced in a brief NHL callup last season and in the rookie games this fall feed that superficial impression -- that Rakhshani's size will hold him back. It's hardly a knock Rakhshani hasn't faced, and plowed through, before.
Of course, whatever Rakhshani's future prospects, he'll at minimum again be an important piece for Bridgeport this year, as well as a mentor for the younger arrivals. Because he played all four years at University of Denver and thus signed at an older age, his Entry Level Contract is only two seasons: 2011-12 is the second and final year of that contract, so he'll be a restricted free agent the Islanders will have to make a decision on next summer, when he'll be 24.
At age 23 now, can he carve his way above the other prospects in contention and solidify an NHL future? That's debatable. But whatever his prospects, he's quite clearly already a skilled player for the organization right now. He's likely to keep putting up points in Bridgeport and, like most players in his situation, will need health and the right opportunity to show what he can do in the NHL.
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, so Andrew 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 solid enough with varied enough votes to get us thinking.
Previous Posts in this Series:
- Those who didn't make the Top 25
- #25: Anton Klementyev
- #24: Not to be Pedantic, but is it Andrei or Andrey Pedan
- #23: Mark Katic shoulders the burden