Before we dive into the players that could’ve made this year’s list, but failed to earn enough votes, let’s look at the eight players from last year’s rankings who didn’t make it onto this year’s best-of-the-youth countdown.
Surprisingly, no one who made the cut last year and was still eligible this year didn’t make the list again. Three players were traded, four players aged out of eligibility, and then, well...there’s Noah Rod.
Radim Simek (2017 Rank: 23)
Simek was re-signed in April to a two-year contract. The undrafted defenseman was signed last year and was a bit of a mystery during the Top 25 Under 25 rankings, as he had yet to play on North American ice. During the 2017-18 season with the San Jose Barracuda, Simek put up 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 67 games. For this year’s rankings, he simply ages out, turning 25-years-old just 11 days after last year’s cutoff date. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is no longer waivers-exempt, making the Sharks’ defense all the more crowded.
Adam Helewka (2017 Rank: 19)
Drafted in 2015 at 106 overall, Helewka is still young enough to be eligible for a Top 25 Under 25 list... if he was still part of the organization. Helewka was sent to the Arizona Coyotes in a one-for-one exchange for defenseman Kyle Wood. The 23-year-old winger put up 38 points (9 goals, 29 assists) for the Barracuda in 2017-18, with an additional 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in four playoff games. His NHL upside seems bottom-six, at best, and he may have been passed over by the new additions to the Top 25 rankings.
Noah Rod (2017 Rank: 18)
Oh, Noah. After a couple years of will-he-or-won’t-he come to North America, Noah Rod seems content to stay home with Genève-Servette of the Swiss NLA. In nine games with the Barracuda last year, Rod tallied 1 goal and 3 assists, but for the most part, it seemed like he struggled last year, with only 9 points in 25 games with Genève-Servette, a drop from his 14 points in 27 games the previous year. That hasn’t stopped the 22-year-old from earning the captaincy for the upcoming season, where he’ll likely stay put after the Sharks terminated the remainder of his contract.
Julius Bergman (2017 Rank: 17)
Julius Bergman may get a shot at the big time this year, but that says more about the state of the Ottawa Senators’ defensive corp than anything, as he was sent there as part of the Mike Hoffman trade. The 22-year-old ranked 17th in the 2017 Top 25 Under 25 ranking after putting up 30 points (3 goals, 27 assists) in 64 regular season games and 8 points in 15 playoff games with the Barracuda squad who made it to the Calder Cup Western Conference Final. With the squad depleted the following year, his overall production dropped to just 20 points, but did see Bergman scoring more, with half of those points being goals.
Barclay Goodrow (2017 Rank: 13)
Finally spending an entire year with the big club, Goodrow has aged out of eligibility for the Top 25 Under 25 as of February 26. He was one of the players rotating in a fourth-line role, returning to play center for the first time since juniors and doing surprisingly well. He’ll look to expand on his 14 points in 47 games last season, and with roster spots opening up, Goodrow should see more ice time.
Joakim Ryan (2017 Rank: 8)
Joakim Ryan surprised everyone by becoming the new Wookie Whisperer, playing defense while Brent Burns does his thing that is most often not defense. If he hadn’t turned 25-years-old back in June, he certainly would’ve cracked the top ten on this list again. Without Paul Martin waiting in the wings and a rookie season out of the way, all eyes are on Ryan to continue his responsible play.
Dylan DeMelo (2017 Rank: 6)
Rounding out players who aged out of eligibility is Dylan DeMelo, who started last year as a seventh defender. After Tim Heed was injured in November, DeMelo saw himself on NHL ice pretty much full-time, where he put up 20 assists while paired with Brenden Dillon. The DeMelo case is interesting, though. While he was regularly played over Heed even after Heed was healthy, he was not tendered a qualifying offer while the Sharks waited on potentially signing John Tavares. When that didn’t pan out, the Sharks signed him for two more years. DeMelo may still be considered expendable and that will be something to watch over the next season.
Daniel O’Regan (2017 Rank: 5)
Danny O’Regan was arguably the biggest piece going back to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Evander Kane at last year’s trade deadline. Hopes were high for the former Boston University forward, especially after leading the Barracuda to the Western Conference Final and scoring his first NHL goal. Though the 24-year-old was a crucial piece of the Barracuda’s top line last season, he couldn’t succeed in the fourth line role the Sharks continued to put him in, tallying only 4 assists. He stayed scoreless in two games with the Sabres, but the jury is out on whether the 2012 fifth-round pick can have a successful role in the NHL.