Today we begin the Top 25 Under 25 series with a bang. We're putting players 25-21 all in the same post, mostly so we can fit the entire series in before the Buffalo Sabres take the ice for their first regulation game in the 2016-17 season. We won't be grouping all our players up like this, but these players are the ones who just made the cut, so they get short end of the stick. Here we go.
#25 - Jason Kasdorf
Kasdorf has NHL size at 6'4'', and showed significant improvement year-to-year in both GAA (2.97 to 2.30) and save percentage (.902 to .931) last season playing for RPI. He even managed to make his NHL debut which, if you saw it, showed that he still has some work to do in his technique and consistency.
Still, Kasdorf has shown the ability to play at a high level. Next year in Rochester, he'll get a chance to prove he can still play well as the game around him gets bigger and faster.
#24 - Cliff Pu
The 2016 draft pick with the magical name, Pu has been impressing scouts all year with his vision, size, and quickness. He played a second line role this season for the London Knights, and models his game after Jeff Carter. Pu had a decent jump in production this year but had a great playoff run with 13 points in 18 games. If he has another jump in productivity this season, he'll find himself rising up the ranks on lists like this very quickly.
#23 - Anthony Florentino
Florentino has gone from an afterthought fifth-round defenseman in 2013 to NCAA national champion in 2015, and is headed back for his senior season at Providence College as a leader on a national contender. His game has improved every year, and Florentino's defensive abilities have caught up to his physicality and his big point shot. Look for him to make some noise in Rochester in 2017, and potentially threaten the main roster the year after that.
#22 - Casey Fitzgerald
Another third-round pick this year was defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. The 5'11'' blueliner describes his game thusly:
"I pride myself on my defense," he said. "I'm a smaller guy, but I try to play like I'm 6-foot-5. I also take pride in my first pass - make sure it's hard and tape-to-tape."
Fitzgerald's strong play during his freshman year at powerhouse Boston College proves his game stays consistent at the next level, and his hockey bloodlines (his dad played in the NHL, his brother is a Bruins draft pick, and he's cousins with both the Hayes and Tkachuk families) bode well for his continued development and hockey future. Let's see how he handles his second year and a bigger role at BC.
#21 - Dan Catenacci
In what's slowly becoming an annual tradition, Dan Catenacci finds himself somewhere near the bottom of our list. Catenacci has always been a tantalizing prospect thanks to his speed, but he never made enough of an impact in Rochester to warrant a spot on the main roster. If you saw any of his 11, point-less (in production if not spirit) games in the NHL this season, it's clear that Cat, at this point, will be a solid AHL player with limited NHL potential.