The Copper and Blue’s Top 25 under 25 list begins this Tuesday with our staff ranked 25th player. As a little teaser, let’s take a look at some recent Oilers who have graduated since we’ve ran the list. Due to the NHL’s schedule getting wonky this year from the coronavirus, it’s been about 15 months since we’ve done our Top 25 list. So who’s aged out this year?
Let’s start with Leon Draisaitl. Now 25, Draisaitl (ranked 2 overall on our Top 25 list in 2019) had himself quite the 2019-20 by picking up both the Hart and the Art Ross trophies. He finished the year with 110 points (43-67-110) in 71 regular season games, a baker’s dozen more than teammate Connor McDavid who finished with 97 points on the year. This year saw the emergence of Draisaitl on his own line, often paired with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (and later, Kailer Yamamoto) as one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL. He’ll look to pick up where he left off when next season starts in 2021.
Darnell Nurse has aged out of our Top 25 list. The seventh selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Nurse was ranked 4th on our list in 2019. Nurse has carved out a top four spot on the Oilers blue, and he’ll get a chance to play some top line minutes in Oscar Klefbom’s absence. Having Nurse on the ice is often like having an additional winger when the puck is up ice, though he continues to work on his defensive game. Never one to back away from physical play, the 25 year old Nurse signed a two year deal this offseason.
Our final Top 25 graduate is Jujhar Khaira. Now 26, Khaira made it in last year on a technicality (he was 25 years old and 8 days when the article was published last year), he’ll have plenty of competition as he looks to find a permanent home in the bottom six during the upcoming year. Ranked 16th on our list in 2019, Khaira will look to improve on his 10 point season in 2019-20. Khaira may have a leg up on some of the competition due to his physical play, he’ll have some tough competition with many of the fresh faces that have been brought in between last season’s trade deadline and the 2020 free agency period.
The Copper and Blue’s 2020 Top 25 Under 25 list begins on Tuesday, November 16th. Join us on that day, and every day after that as we count down to number one on our list.