A starting note from Michelle: As the site manager of TIG, I am the one responsible for pulling together our starting guide of who is eligible. The list is like the pirate’s code — it’s more of a guideline for our voters as trying to remember every single player under 25 in the world is really reallly realllllly hard. I tell you this because narrowing down our list to 25 players is probably the hardest task we do all year.
We’re looking at hundreds of players who compete in various leagues all across the world and then, with varying degrees of stats available, have to compare, contrast, and rank them. We have no equivalency models (though give Mike Murphy a few years and he’ll make one I’m sure of it) and frequently players paths won’t ever cross. So how do we do it?
I posed that question to the TIG staff that voted who wanted to share their methods to give some insight into our list.
If you voted in the community vote, drop a comment or write a FanPost about you how voted.
In my mind, there’s three ways to vote for Top 25 Under 25. You can look at mostly at last season with a slight look at the future; you can look more towards the overall resume of a player plus what they will bring to the future; or you
I am in the “last season” camp, placing a large amount of my rankings on how a player did in the 2018-19 season. That’s why I had Annie Pankowski at the top of my list. Her last season was out of the world and she has such potential in USA Hockey. If I got stuck, which was often, I swung more towards their overall resume.
As I said above, this is the hardest thing we do. The lack of equivalency models or standardized of anything doesn’t help either. I think that’s why I was so excited for the Northeastern versus Boston College games last season. They gave us a great chance to see how to Northeastern’s Chloé Aurard (France) and Alina Müller (Switzerland) would stack up against a number of US and Canadian National Team members, something we don’t get to see in international play.
I went into this year’s T25-U25 knowing that I had a bias towards North American talent that I needed to correct for. As a result, I gave the most consideration to players who excelled on the international stage who also proved themselves to be elite at the pro or collegiate level. Because of the “what have you done for me lately” nature of these lists, I focused primarily on data from the 2018 Olympics, the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship, and the 2018-19 season at the pro and collegiate level.
I also wanted to give more acknowledgement to goaltenders than I did last year, because it’s my belief that goaltending has never been better in the women’s game.
As you might imagine, taking all of that into consideration definitely whittled down the list. From there, I paid particular attention to P1/GP (primary points per game) and P1/60 (primary points per 60 minutes) rates, as well as TOI/GP and SOG data for defenders when it was available. I also made note of players who won individual awards and players who dramatically out-performed their peers.
When deciding who to vote for this season, I tended to mainly focus on what player’s had done this season. That’s why, for example, Daryl Watts fell as far as she did - she had an incredible season last year, and didn’t stand out in the same way she did during her Patty Kaz winning year.
I also tried to factor in different league’s difficulties - for example, Sarah Nurse performed incredibly well at the national team level and in the pros, so I ranked her higher than, say, someone who excelled at the collegiate level.
The biggest factor for me was a player’s projected ceiling and future impact. I’d venture to say my rankings skewed more towards younger players than some of my fellow voters because of that. I gave a lot of consideration to those who have already shown they can perform at a high level while shouldering big responsibilities for their teams, and whose skill sets have translated so far to game-changing abilities. Those are the players I ranked highest, and if I was between players, I tended to lean against those who I felt were at or near their ceilings (which are all already very high).
I quickly found that my biggest factor was my unshakable bias in favor of goalies. Truly. When I first created a draft of my list of 25, I ended up with ten goalies on it. I didn’t keep it that way, but boy, did I consider it.
Here’s how I ended up with that list in the first place: I opened up several sticky notes on my computer, pulled up individual statistics for each of the leagues represented in this age group, and started gathering the names that I found leading several categories. I did that until I had around a dozen players for each league I was looking at, and then I realized that I had no accurate way of comparing them, because stats aren’t my strong point. Instead, I narrowed down my lists by looking at which players I like to watch the most, and which ones seem to have had the biggest impact on their respective teams. I primarily looked at this past season for this, with a few notable exceptions, especially when it came to players with international experience in major tournaments like the Olympics.
And then, when push came to shove and I had to choose between players, I usually favored the goalies. Sorry, skaters.
Starting off, I let myself just make an unlimited list of players I thought were the best and then decided to cut it down to 25. In retrospect, this was an awful way to start because I wanted to keep them all and genuinely felt bad for crossing off their names. That original list definitely contained more defenders and goalies because as much as I try to be unbiased about what positions I favor, much like Syd, I’m always going to choose defense.
I tried to mostly consider this past season when it came down to comparing one-on-one for who gets a spot. It’s not to say players that may have had stellar seasons prior still aren’t just as deserving, but when you can look at most recent play and see who is trending up vs. just having one incredible season, I think it makes it a little bit more significant. I tried to consider the difficulty of leagues all these players mainly played in, but admittedly that still had some North American bias on my part just because I’m more familiar with those leagues.
I based a lot of my choices for T25U25 on a sort of gut ranking based on seeing the players play. I definitely did look at statistics too but since they don’t all compete against each other and we can’t be sure how equivalent different leagues are, it was more intuitive for me. I would pick a skill and think, who is the player under 25 that I think is most impressive with regards to that skill? And I’d end up with five or so players to add to my list. Then players with more “complete” skill sets were ranked higher.