It's awfully hard not to like that.
Liam Reddox qualifies for this list by less than a month, which means this will be his last appearance on the Top 25 Under 25 no matter what happens from here on out. Truth be told, I'll miss having Reddox on this list. For the last several Top 25's Reddox has been my barometer. Every time a player's name came up I got to ask if the player had a decent chance of playing more than a marginal role in the NHL Yes? Put him above Reddox. No? Underneath he goes. Having ranked Reddox the lowest, I may just be the most optimistic guy here on the Oilers' prospects as a whole!
If I'm the most optimistic about the Oilers for ranking Reddox the lowest, Derek putting him 15th makes him the pessimist. There are only fourteen guys under twenty-five in this organization you'd rather have than Reddox? That, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.
At the end of last season, Reddox had barely played in the NHL for a team that was crying out for someone to establish himself at the NHL level. He scored only 35 points in 70 games as one of the go-to guys for the Springfield Falcons. He was passed by Gilbert Brule, Jean-Francois Jacques, Ryan Potulny, and Ryan Stone at various times during the year. He sucked.
But this year has been a different story. Liam Reddox has once again found his scoring touch in the AHL with 33 points in just 37 games. Despite playing six fewer games than the rest of the Barons top men, Reddox still leads the team in both shots on goal (143 or 3.86 per game) and plus/minus (+14), all while taking on reasonably tough competition. He's also been one of the key cogs on a strong Barons' penalty kill.
It was good enough to earn a call back to the NHL where Reddox has performed well enough that I'm very willing to say he's among the top fourteen forwards with everyone healthy. His scoring chance differential isn't pretty (+19 -27), but his Fenwick differential is a lot more encouraging (+53 -59), and that slightly larger sample is probably more indicative of his play, particularly after moving to the wing. David Staples' individual scoring chances also have Reddox at +7 (+13 -6) through seven games, which is a better per game average than anyone not playing on the Oilers' top two lines (Magnus Paajarvi excepted). The individual chances against number is particularly impressive given the number of total chances against when he's at the ice. At the very least, that suggests to me that Reddox has been playing responsible hockey in his own zone, not surprising considering how quickly he's earned ice time on the Oilers' penalty kill. If he plays three more games with the Oilers, Reddox will once again be subject to waivers (right now he could be sent down without needing to clear waivers). With Shawn Horcoff's return coming soon, if Reddox makes it to ten games without getting sent out, that will say a lot about where he stands in the organization.
So why, if Reddox seems to be on the upswing, do I have him ranked so low? Well, despite being one of the best fourteen forwards on the Oilers, I'm convinced that he won't be one of the best fourteen forwards on an Oiler team that's actually any good. He'll be twenty-five in a couple of weeks and still hasn't established himself in the NHL even though he's played for the last several years in an organization with horrendous bottom-end forwards. That doesn't exactly scream "Impact player!" Today, Reddox is a tweener, a useful guy to call on when injuries hit, but that's about all, and honestly, I doubt he'll ever be anything more than that. That might make him good enough for 15th spot in a mediocre group of prospects, but like I said, this prospect group isn't just good; they're not just great; they're just incredible!