Today is the last day of voting before the Top 25 begins in earnest tomorrow, and just one of the seven young men listed below will make the cut. If you think that's a tragedy, feel free to add all seven to your own list (or, more likely, add none of them). But first, let's learn a little about each of these candidates.
Tyler Bunz - Last time out, Tyler Bunz came in at #20, and I heard a lot of guff for placing him at #28 and saying that we should be discounting his junior success just because he's a goalie. One of our more visionary commenters responded with this:
At this point, I would suggest that there is a good chance Bunz sees NHL action at some point, unless he viciously falls off the rails.
There's a prophet among us! Bunz began the year in the ECHL, and he has been atrocious. In 27 games, Bunz has a save percentage of .883 and a goals against average of 3.37. The ECHL tends to feature more scoring per game than other leagues, but those numbers are still, in fact, terrible. To use a relatively recent example, Bryan Pitton's first ECHL season featured an .886 and 3.39. Pitton did eventually get a bit better, and even collected an NHL salary for a while. He could have played in a game if Pat Quinn didn't have heart three sizes two small. So who knows! He's a goalie! He could still turn out. Last Ranking: #20.
Brandon Davidson - Brandon Davidson was diagnosed with cancer this year, and the treatment required him to miss the first half of the season. Amazingly, Davidson is already back and playing. He returned to the Barons last weekend, dressing for both of the last two games (at forward!) and registering an assist along with a +2 rating. He has since been sent to Stockton of the ECHL where he will no doubt go back to playing defense. Davidson was a long-shot to make the NHL even before he had to deal with cancer, and that certainly isn't going to help. But this is a young man who has been forced to deal with a lot of adversity in his life and just keeps pushing through. I think we're all cheering for him. Last Ranking: #28.
Philippe Cornet - What a strange year it's been for Philippe Cornet. On January 30, 2012, Cornet was leading the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons in goal-scoring. He made his NHL debut and registered his first NHL point on that very day. He played in one more NHL game before being sent down for the rest of the season, but he finished his sophomore AHL season with a team-leading 24 goals during the regular season. On October 8, 2013, Cornet was assigned to Stockon of the ECHL, all of that hard work seemingly forgotten. That day must have been awful. But Cornet did the only thing he could to make it back: he blew the doors off. Cornet earned 23 points in 18 ECHL games, and has now worked his way back into OKC's lineup. His six goals are (hilariously) good enough to tie for second among players currently on the roster, and he seems to have reclaimed his spot on an AHL scoring line. He's not quite back to where he was in January of 2012, but he's a lot closer than he was four or five months ago. Last Ranking: #30.
Niko Hovinen - The Oilers grabbed Hovinen off waivers less than a month ago. At the time, Yann Danis was in Edmonton, and Olivier Roy needed some help in OKC (the aforementioned Tyler Bunz didn't seem like a good option for obvious reasons). Hovinen is an interesting player. The Flyers brought the 6'7'' goaltender over from Europe this summer. It didn't go well. Hovinen wasn't able to make the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL), and so was demoted to Trenton of the ECHL, where he was promptly injured. He came back quickly, but delivered a rather uninspiring .889 save percentage in 16 games. The Flyers and Hovinen had agreed to terminate his contract, but the Oilers picked him up off unconditional waivers before they could complete the transaction. With Olivier Roy being sent to Stockton this week, Hovinen will likely be the back-up with OKC for the rest of the season. But the really interesting thing about Hovinen is his previous performance in Finland. In 2010-11 and 2011-12, Hovinen posted save percentages of .920 and .921 in the SM-Liiga. Those aren't overwhelming numbers (save percentages tend to be high in Finland), but they're certainly solid, and "two years of solid professional numbers" is probably the best any of the goaltending prospects can say. Last Ranking: N/A.
Samu Perhonen - It's certainly more than Samu Perhonen can say. Perhonen is much younger (he's 19, whereas Hovinen is 24), but that's where the advantages end. Perhonen has one of the worst save percentages in Finland's second division (.902), and is well back of teammate Sami Rajaniemi (.915). When the Oilers talk about their prospects, they're usually pretty positive. When Billy Moores spoke about Perhonen this summer, you could tell he didn't quite meet expectations:
He's a big goalie and I think he's just catching up with his physical maturity, getting bigger and stronger to support his frame. He had a bit of an off-year, due to the fact that he suffered a few injuries, but he's a really good prospect. He doesn't have the (English) language yet, so that's one of the things he's going to have to continue to work on.
With another off-year almost in the books, I get the sense that not having strong English isn't really the biggest problem. Last Ranking: #35.
Frans Tuohimaa - Another Finnish goalie! He fits nicely between Perhonen and Hovinen both in terms of age (he's 21) and in terms of established level. Tuohimaa has yet to have success in the SM-Liiga, but he has performed at a decent level in the Finnish second division, posting a .921 save percentage in 16 games last season and a .915 save percentage in 16 games so far this season. In both instances, Tuohimaa's number is the best on his team, and at least in the top half of his league. Here's Moores:
He already speaks English quite well and...
Nevermind. Last Ranking: #36.
Antti Tyrvainen - At one point, I thought that Tyrvainen had a pretty good chance to carve out a role for himself on Edmonton's fourth line. But Tyrvainen has been dogged by injuries over the last two seasons and (let's be honest) hasn't played well enough when he's been in the lineup either. I think Lowetide summed it up well a week or so ago:
Antti Tyrvainen is a good agitator. I know because he irritated the hell out of Jonathan Willis while taking stupid penalties during the lockout.
That's about the size of it. On the bright side, this video of Tyrvainen slamming into a Zamboni will always make me smile. Last Ranking: #33.