The Copper and Blue writers, both past and present, have reconvened to look at the best players in this organization under twenty-five years of age. This edition's panel has more opinions than ever, which of course means that unanimity has left the room (there was a dissenter at both the very top and the very bottom). The eight contributors are current Copper and Blue columnists Alan Hull, Ryan Batty and Derek Blasutti (Dawgbone), current Copper and Blue editors Derek Zona and myself, and the three other men who were part of the first-ever Top 25 under 25, Jonathan Willis, Bruce McCurdy and Benjamin Massey (who came up with the whole damn idea).
With Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov both being added to the list this year, there's been some movement in a top ten that looks awfully strong, and the rest of the 2012 entry draft has also given the group some new players to think about. But as with every other edition of the list, the passing of time also means that some players have left this list never to return. I'll take a very brief look at the dearly departed after the jump.
Linus Omark (Last Ranking: #7) - Omark was hanging around in the top ten for a long time, but has still yet to establish himself as an NHL player. It doesn't sound like that establishing is imminent either. According to the ever-reliable Twitter, Omark is going back to Sweden to play hockey, but my sources tell me that he's going to join the circus so that his shoot-out skills can finally get the respect that they deserve.
Jeremie Blain (Last Ranking: #18) - Blain wasn't signed to an entry-level contract by the Oilers, which I found surprising, but after Blain passed through a draft that saw approximately five thousand overagers get drafted, it's pretty hard to fault the Oilers here. He was last seen attending prospect camp with the Canucks, giving us the only confirmation we need that the young man has character issues.
Taylor Chorney (Last Ranking: #27) - He's now both too old to qualify and a member of the
St. Louis Blues Peoria Rivermen. Chorney is now in his fifth year of professional hockey, but no matter what he does from here on in, I'll always remember him for "The Shift".
Ryan O'Marra (Last Ranking: #29) - He left the organization via trade when the Oilers sent him to Anaheim for Bryan Rodney. The Oilers didn't qualify Rodney and the Ducks didn't qualify O'Marra, which is kind of funny. O'Marra is still a free agent, but as a former first-round pick, he'll be able to catch on somewhere.
Milan Kytnar (Last Ranking: #30) - When the Oilers announced that they'd renewed their affiliation agreement with Stockton, they wanted to make sure that fans understood the importance of the development system:
Milan Kytnar, among several Thunder players who skated under a contract with the Oilers organization or were recalled last season, became the eighth Thunder player to reach the NHL level last season. He was recalled directly by the Oilers on Jan. 11 and made his NHL debut that evening vs. New Jersey at Rexall Place.
Go development system! Sadly, this tremendous talent was recruited by European vultures, and will now play with HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL.
Chris VandeVelde (Last Ranking: #35) - To what can we compare the ongoing presence of Chris VandeVelde... do any of you have adult kids living with you who have been saying for years that they're going to make a career out of playing poker online?
Drew Czerwonka (Last Ranking: #37) - The last time we did the Top 25, I said:
To be frank, barring a huge second half, the Oilers probably shouldn't sign him.
Johan Motin (Last Ranking: #40) - The Swedish defenseman finally escaped the minor leagues when he went back to Sweden to play in the Elitserien. Then his team faced relegation. They pulled through to stay in the Elitserien for another year, but Motin didn't, signing with a team in the Allsvenskan for 2012-13.
Alexander Bumagin (Last Ranking: #43) - He's finally too old for this list, but I'll miss Derek using him as a way to tell you which prospects he really does hate.