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NHL’s best players under age 25 for 2017: Honorable mentions

Here are the players who received votes, but not enough to make our top 25 ranking.

Ottawa Senators v Calgary Flames Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be ranking the NHL’s top 25 players under age 25, but if you needed an idea of how impressive the league’s young talent is, this post would be a good start.

These are the honorable mentions from our rankings, or the players who narrowly missed the cut based on our 23 ballots from different writers across the SB Nation NHL network. It’s a talented group that includes two 30-goal scorers, a Calder Trophy winner, and several skilled defensemen.

Over 60 players received votes to be in the top 25, which tells you both how varied the opinions were among our voters and how deep the pool of young talent is in the NHL right now. More players who received votes were left off the final list than included in the end.

You can read more about how the rankings were determined and which players were eligible here.

The future of the NHL, or at least the product on the ice, looks bright. This is an exciting group of young players, yet our ballots determined there are 25 players under age 25 we’d take over these guys. As great as Connor McDavid is, the fact that he’s being pushed from below by so many other stellar young talents is what will make the next decade in the NHL so thrilling.

Before we can get into the actual top-25 rankings, it’s only fair to give some credit to the players who fell short of the points needed to make the cut. Surely there will be some disagreement over these players not being included, but that’s what makes this so fun.

Here are the top 10 honorable mentions from our voting for the top 25 NHL players under age 25 entering the 2017-18 season:

Dougie Hamilton, Flames defenseman

There still seems to be some skepticism surrounding Hamilton’s ultimate upside despite a monster 2016-17 season that saw him finish ninth in Norris Trophy voting. He wasn’t on the Flames’ top pairing last season — that honor went to Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie — but his numbers stand out among the league’s best young blue liners.

Viktor Arvidsson, Predators winger

Arvidsson broke out in 2016-17 with 31 goals for the eventual Western Conference champs, but he needs to prove it was more than a flash in the pan. He recorded just 16 points in 56 games in his first NHL season, and came out of nowhere to some degree as a fourth-round pick.

Oscar Klefbom, Oilers defenseman

It’s hard to peg down just how good Klefbom is given how he benefits from sharing the ice with a generational player in McDavid. Still, he took his game to another level in 2016-17, and now his long-term deal with the Oilers looks like a bargain. Presumably the high variance in votes for Klefbom results from a lack of certainty over how good he is without McDavid.

Jacob Trouba, Jets defenseman

Trouba’s issues in Winnipeg might’ve hurt his trade value to some degree, but the Jets probably don’t regret keeping him for now. The defenseman is coming off his best season yet with 33 points in 60 games, which saw him play a career-high 25 minutes per night.

Jaccob Slavin, Hurricanes defenseman

Continuing the pattern with Hamilton, Klefbom, and Trouba, it seems the voters didn’t quite know what to do with these very good young defenseman who haven’t clearly established themselves as No. 1 guys yet. All four have a good shot. And even if Slavin doesn’t improve much from here, he’s already at least a good second-pairing option.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers center

The 2013 Calder Trophy winner has had his ups and downs since then, but he was stellar in injury-limited duty last season. The forward took advantage of some easier assignments to post dominant possession numbers and 26 points in 31 games. He may not get 61 percent offensive zone starts again, but he’s still quite effective.

John Klingberg, Stars defenseman

Klingberg absolutely would’ve made this list a year ago, but his all-around game took a real step back last season. What’s undeniable is his ability as an offensive defenseman, as he racked up 49 points even in a down season. He turns 25 in mid-August, so he won’t be eligible for the same list in a year, but the massive upside is still there.

John Gibson, Ducks goaltender

After finally getting the full-time job last season with the trade of Frederik Andersen to Toronto, Gibson lived up to his billing with a .924 save percentage in 52 games. He’s long been considered one of the best goalie prospects in hockey, and now he’s reaching his potential in Anaheim.

Jake Guentzel, Penguins winger

An incredible playoff run can really get the hype train moving. Guentzel went from college hockey to Sidney Crosby’s wing in less than a year, then thrived in the assignment with a postseason-high 13 goals in 25 games as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Just how good is Guentzel really? We should get a better idea next season, especially if he doesn’t spend as much time with Crosby.

Rickard Rakell, Ducks winger

Rakell doesn’t get a ton of attention given that Anaheim still has Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, but he scored far more goals (33) than any of them last season. What’s particularly impressive is that 28 of them came at even strength, and a league-leading 10 were game-winners. It won’t be easy to ignore Rakell if he keeps scoring like that.

And for full disclosure, here are the other 29 players who received at least one vote: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Noah Hanifin, Sebastian Aho, Rasmus Ristolainen, Max Domi, Bo Horvat, Ivan Provorov, Connor Brown, Dylan Larkin, Shayne Gostisbehere, Vincent Trocheck, Gabriel Landeskog, J.T. Miller, Alexander Wennberg, Morgan Rielly, Teuvo Teravainen, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Hyman, Ben Hutton, Josh Morrissey, Brady Skjei, Matthew Tkachuk, Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, Brandon Montour, Mikhail Sergachev, Christian Dvorak, Brayden Point, and Tanner Pearson.