Our Top 25 Under 25 series continues today with the next five entries, #20-16. This will be the final "bundle" and all players in the top 15 will receive their own individual posts. This time around, the card is stacked with forwards, and our second goalie prospect makes an appearance as well. Let's dive in.
#20 - Georgio Estephan
Estephan is an intriguing prospect based on his production and draft position. You don't always expect sixth round choices to put up 74 points in 59 games, but that's exactly what the talented center did last year. Estephan's offensive abilities are potent, and he's a smart, hard-working player to boot. He needs to continue to get stronger in his own end, but if he can improve his two-way game some more next season in the WHL, he'll far exceed his draft position.
#19 - Eric Cornel
A second round pick in 2014, Cornel adds another playmaking center to the Sabres ranks. The 6'2'' Ontario boy made a big jump last season as captain of the Peterborough Petes, and will hope to make the same improvement next year in Rochester. Cornel needs to keep working on filling out his big frame and defensive play, but he should be a nice addition next year to an Amerks squad desperate for some success.
#18 - Nick Baptiste
Baptiste had a disappointing year in Rochester last season, but the raw tools that set our high expectations are still there. When at his best, Baptiste plays a physical game and controls the puck well, making good decisions and getting to the right spots as a power forward. At his worst, Baptiste reminds you of all those frustrating Drew Stafford games where you wonder what the heck he's doing on the ice. If he can be more consistent, get a bit more explosive, and increase his offensive impact this year, Baptiste will remind us of why we were all so excited about his potential last season.
#17 - Cal Petersen
One of the Sabres best prospects in net, Cal Petersen has already accomplished something that Sabres fans wanted for Ryan Miller many years ago - he was named captain of his Notre Dame team. Petersen, famous for his 87-save, record-setting performance in a 5 OT game last year, has shown nice progression year-after-year since being drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft. Barring injury, the junior netminder will likely play every game for the Irish this year, as he did last year, and will try to cement himself as one of the best collegiate goaltenders in the game.
#16 - William Carrier
Along the same lines as Baptiste, Carrier did not live up to expectations in his second AHL campaign. To say he needs to make more of an impact this year would be underselling the point - in fact, when searching "William Carrier" on Google for this story, almost all of what you get among the first 30 results are generic stat pages, but there's also a real estate listing, and an obituary. It's for a different person, of course, but still.
The good news is that Carrier has dedicated himself to pushing for an NHL job this year, and he was among the better players at the team's summer development camp. If he makes the Sabres, it will likely be as a bottom-six grinder, but even if sent back to Rochester Carrier needs to show more than he has the past two seasons.