It's a little over a month before the NHL Draft, when the New York Islanders could add five to seven bodies to their system -- one of them who would instantly join the list that we will unfurl from now up to the draft.
What is this list? It's the semi-annual(ish) Top 25 Islanders Under 25 (25U25 for short).
That second "25" is age. That means everyone from Doyle Somerby to John Tavares (and yes, even Josh Bailey still, as he turns 25 this fall) is in the pool. There are a few reasons we do this 25U25:
- It encompasses more than just prospects, to include young players who are regulars in the NHL or frequent sailors on the ferry from Bridgeport.
- Doing that highlights young players who have really proven themselves at an early stage.
- By age 26, theoretically the prime or beginning of the prime of a healthy player's career, you pretty much know what you have. Before that, there is room for growth.
- Like, what the hell else are we going to do during the summer? Watch baseball?
Quoting last year's intro: "As with everything that has ever been written about a prospect ever, there is nothing scientific about this." To get that cross-section, we poll our own staff and other Isles fans who pay attention but bring slightly different criteria to this ranking.
While the overall instruction is, "Who is better or more important right now?", each voter has the freedom to bring whatever he wants to the table, including signability (Oh welcome back, Anders Lee! See ya', Kirill P.!), injury concerns, and ultimate ceiling.
For the sake of reference (and mocking us), here is last year's June 2013 poll results.
This year, seven voters considered 38 assets who are not yet 25 years old. Below are the unlucky few who received no Top 25 votes from even our most charitable voters.
Nobody Loves You
Receiving no votes in the top 25 were just three of the 38. That's right, three! Don't ever think our panel isn't diverse in its thought. (Or maybe just desperate?) The lucky three are:
Stephon Williams, g, Minnesota - Mankato (NCAA)
Williams was drafted after a 2.00 and .924 in 35 games at Mankato. Naturally, he followed that up by losing the starting gig, playing just 12 games, compiling a 3.23 and .862 in 2013-14. Mamas, don't let your boy grow up to be an Isles goalie draft pick.
Mark Cantin, d, Bridgeport
Certainly the 25U25 is a prospect -- and homegrown -- focused exercise. Guys from other organizations who aren't remarkable tend to get overlooked quickly. Cantin is 24 an an RFA this summer. No one put him in their 25.
Jake Bischoff, d, Minnesota (NCAA)
Of the three zero-votes, Bischoff is one you could at least argue for. He's got some talent and logged some good work for the top-ranked college team after being a 7th-round pick in 2012. The Gophers are always stacked, so it's no shock he only saw 28 games (as opposed to 41 for the big guns) as a freshman. He's still ultimately a longshot for the NHL, but it would be no shock to see him on this list, or at least receiving some top 25 votes, in the future.
Up Next: Bastards (The Consolation Prizes)
That does it for the no votes. Up next: A surprising number of players received just one vote (usually 25th, but not always). As we continue on, many of you will enjoy the commentary the voters provided with their picks -- a mix of sincerity and Isles fan gallows humor or "lists are kind of silly" cynicism.
The moral of the story: Prospects are still tougher to peg than the weather, and by the bottom of the ballot we're mostly just tossing darts.