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The Top 25 Under 25 Continues

Rick Stewart

Yesterday's vote was a landslide win for Brandon Davidson, a young pro who's probably about 13th on Edmonton's defensive depth chart right now. Today, I'll take a brief look at nine more players, eight of whom were left off the Top 25, and one more who made the cut. Will the readers agree with our panel about which of these men should get in?

Cameron Abney: This is the eighth edition of the Top 25 Under 25 and in the seven previous iterations, no player has received every last-place vote. Cameron Abney spent the 2012-13 season, his second as a professional, mostly playing in the ECHL where he registered eight points and eight fights in 42 games. The 82nd overall pick in 2009 also played four games for the Barons where he fought twice. Last Ranking: #42.

Ben Betker: At 6'4'' and 201 pounds, Betker has at least one quality that NHL teams look for in an NHL defenseman. He's working on the others. Betker played the 2011-12 season in the BCHL, but moved up to the WHL in 2012-13 where he played 68 regular season games and all six playoff games for the Everett Silvertips. He didn't bring any notable offense, but going from BCHL regular to WHL regular should be considered progress. As a late September birthday, Betker was one of the older players eligible for the first time in 2013, and the Oilers must have really liked his growth year over year in order to project him as a potential NHL player. Last Ranking: N/A

Tyler Bunz: He had a terrible professional debut. His .886 save percentage in the ECHL placed him 33rd out of 33 goalies who played in at least 25 ECHL games and was well back of his teammate, Cody Reichard, who posted a .911 save percentage in 27 games. Bunz was ranked 20th last July before turning pro, and was inside the Top 25 in our last edition, but may have a hard time holding on to his spot. Last Ranking: #24.

Jackson Houck: This young winger turned 18 in February and was drafted 94th overall last month. He was a prospect mostly known for his physical play coming into the season, but he led the Vancouver Giants in scoring in 2012-13 with 57 points in 69 games, good enough for third on the team in points per game behind Marek Trvdon and Cain Franson. If his offensive game continues to develop, his other skills may help him find a role in the NHL. Last Ranking: N/A

Kale Kessy: In one of Steve Tambellini's last actions as the team's General Manager, he sent Tobias Rieder to the Phoenix Coyotes for Kale Kessy. It was a very odd move unless Rieder was intent on re-entering the draft, which seems pretty unlikely, so we'll just say it was a very odd move. That said, Kessy does bring some things the team is looking for. He's been better than a non-entity offensively at the WHL level and the Oilers have a stated desire to add size and toughness. If his offense translates better than most prospects, he's got the other qualities in spades. Last Ranking: N/A

Joey Laleggia: The small college blueliner took a small step back offensively in 2012-13, but still finished tied for second in team scoring with 29 points in 39 games, good enough for ninth among defensemen in the NCAA in points per game. Barring an absolutely monstrous offensive season in college, the next step for Laleggia is determining whether or not his game will translate to pro hockey, a question that won't be answered for at least another year. Last Ranking: #28.

Olivier Roy: 2012-13 was supposed to be the year that Roy moved up to the AHL, but with Yann Danis being named the AHL's top goaltender in 2011-12, there wasn't much chance of Roy becoming the team's starter unless Danis was summoned to Edmonton. As it turned out, Roy functioned as Danis's back-up for most of the season, posting a .902 save percentage in 22 games. His ECHL performance was more impressive, as he registered a .926 save percentage in 31 ECHL games, most of which came in Stockton's run to the Kelly Cup finals. The Oilers decided not to bring Danis back for 2013-14, but did add 25-year-old Richard Bachman, which likely makes Roy Oklahoma City's back-up for a second consecutive season. This is the last year of his entry-level contract, so Roy likely needs to show well at the AHL level to earn a second deal from the Oilers. Last Ranking: #19.

Frans Tuohimaa: He was signed to a two-year entry-level deal this spring, but will spend next season playing in Europe, likely with HPK of the SM-liiga. Tuohimaa signed a two-year contract with the Finnish club in April, and despite not having had much success at that level, would seem to have a good chance of being the team's starting goalie. The other candidates are Juuse Saros, an 18-year-old selected by the Predators 99th overall in 2013 with no experience in the SM-liiga who played well in Finland's U-20 league last season, and Timo Niemi, an undrafted 20-year-old with no experience in the SM-liiga who played well in Finland's second division last season. Last Ranking: #35.

Daniil Zharkov: The Russian winger will play with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL in 2013-14 after a pretty disappointing post-draft season in the OHL in 2012-13. Zharkov, a player whose calling card is offense, scored just 55 points in 76 games with Belleville. That's not a pretty mediocre draft year, and a flat-out poor post-draft year. At this point, I'd be surprised to see him ever come back to North America. Last Ranking: #30.

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