The damnable thing about the Top 25 Under 25 is that, because we all rank players on different criteria, we sometimes find ourselves trying to defend prospects we wouldn't normally dream of defending.
Take Colten Teubert, as indeed you have to since he is eighteenth on Copper & Blue's Top 25 Under 25. The man is, to put it as charitably as possible, a cement truck. Big, thick, slow, and hard to stop. I wouldn't trust him to handle the counter at a McDonald's, let alone the puck. He is such an offensive nullity, even for a defenseman, that he'd have to be the second coming of Chris Pronger in his own zone to be worth NHL minutes and he ain't. A player with few skills beyond hitting hard and taking aggressive penalties who is not distinguishing himself in the American league. He's no raw rookie, green as goat shit and struggling to adjust: Teubert turns 23 in a couple of weeks. The only thing keeping him ahead of some of our defensive prospects is that he hasn't broken his leg or gotten cancer.
So no, I don't like Colten Teubert. Whenever I think of the trade that sent him to Edmonton for Dustin Penner I instinctively eat a pint of ice cream.
Yet I see that I have ranked Teubert highest among my fellows. I ranked him 16th, just ahead of the consensus. Derek Zona, by ranking him 23rd, gave Teubert the ultimate insult by putting him below a goalie. Didn't see this one coming. If I knew I had to say something nice about Teubert, who I truly do not rate as an NHLer, I might have fudged the books.
But maybe the operative phrase there was "do not rate as an NHLer". I don't think Teubert has it in him to be more than a sixth or seventh defenseman in the big leagues at best, a devastating disappointment given his draft position and the high price of trading for him. That's ahead of most of this list, though. Compared to long-shot semi-obscure prospects and hopefuls waiting for their professional debuts, there's something to be said for a defenseman you can sincerely expect to chip in a few NHL games over the years. Even if there's not much.
Previous Rank: 17
Teubert is in his third full professional season with the Oklahoma City Barons: as of this writing he is behind only Dane Byers in team penalty minutes but has otherwise made no impact on the leaderboards.
It's an aphorism that defensive defensemen take longer to develop. There's probably some truth to it; Jordan Eberle will always have good agility and a dazzling release no matter what league he's in, but the lessons of defense are learned only through failure and experience. An average NHL season will see a couple teenagers or 20-year-old offensive players, be they forwards or defensemen, adjusting to the NHL in style with good point numbers, but a player that age being a useful defensive blueliner is once-in-a-decade stuff.
But even accepting that cliché, we can't take it too far. A defensive defenseman who'll be useful in the NHL tends to show at least some offense in the minor leagues; very, very few good NHL players get by with seven-point seasons. They also tend to be in the show sooner rather than later. Most struggle early, but they get there and see meaningful minutes because, even if they're raw, they're capable of contributing. Colten Teubert is not at that level.
As I mentioned, Teubert is in his third professional season. At this stage of their careers, Jason Smith was a full-time New Jersey Devil. Matt Greene was in the NHL to stay. Ladislav Smid made an AHL cameo but was basically an established major leaguer. Anton Volchenkov was in the American league but only because of the lockout (he played the previous two years in the NHL). Even Cory Cross was spending half-seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting offense far in excess of Teubert's. When we're looking for defensemen who spent three years in the AHL we're in Bryce Salvador/Steve Staios/Jason Strudwick territory: late bloomers who switched positions or were drafted in the billionth round and were never so good that, when your team lost them, you said "darn".
(Again, I'm the guy who ranked Teubert highest. This is all very stupid.)
Why did I rank Teubert above the others? I think it's more that I rate the rest of the kids lower. Taylor Fedun is not far removed from a horrific injury, a bit older than Teubert, and isn't conspicuously playing Teubert's socks off. Kyle Bigos is Teubert's age, hasn't even gone pro, and plays the same sort of limited game; you'd be crazily optimistic to rank Bigos at Merrimack ahead of Teubert at OKC. Erik Gustafsson is an undersized Swedish question mark. The defensemen below Teubert all have even larger sirens shrieking over their heads, and the forwards are crap shoots at best. At least with Teubert we know what we have, even if we don't like it.
Derek Zona was kind enough to share his thoughts on why he ranked Teubert so low. Well, when I say his thoughts, I mean my thoughts. Which are his thoughts. Look, let me just get him to explain it.
What does anyone see in Colten Teubert? No, really, what? Offensively, he's garbage. Absolute garbage; you would have to be a pretty staggeringly competent defensive defenseman to make up for the sheer puck impotence this man brings to the rink every God-forsaken night. And he is not a staggeringly competent defensive defenseman; in fact he's crap. He's a poor man's Cory Cross, quite frankly, and at age 22 he's shown nary a whit of improvement in his professional career since he came up as the seventh-best defenseman on the 2010-11 Manchester Monarchs. Maybe I'm bitter at him because he's a big man who can't play hockey who we got in exchange for a big man who can. But the fact of the matter is that if he weren't a 13th-overall pick who was traded for a first-line forward he'd be selling shoes in Siberia.
It's all true. Last time around, I ranked Teubert in the doldrums (#23); partially I was bitter over the nightmare of a trade that brought him here but mostly I had a higher opinion of the kids ahead of him at the time than I do now. Looking back on that anti-Teubert quote, I find my opinion of him hasn't changed but Theo Peckham's off the list, Tyler Bunz forgot what the puck looks like, Alex Plante may be dead, you get my drift.
There are worse players to have in your system than the new Jason Strudwick. Even if Teubert's career peak is a seventh defenseman who plays eight minutes for 30 games a season and makes you cross your fingers every time he's on the ice, that's not nothing. Most players on this list will never make it that far. Given his hard nose, draft pedigree, and ability to play at least marginal defense it's a safe bet that Teubert will have a career of some sort. Not vast praise, of course, but which of the players below him can we say that about? 150 NHL games isn't many for a thirteenth-overall player, but it's more than zero.
Colten Teubert is not very good. But lots of players aren't, and at least he has some things going for him.ave some sort of career, bouncing around organizations who need someone cheap to fill a hole on a lower pairing. He'll never be worth Dustin Penner, and he'll always be replacement-level at best, but I'm willing to bet that's more than almost all players ranked below him will manage.
Number eighteen in our Top 25 Under 25! Feel the excitement, Oilers fans!