The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked
Entering his second full season as a professional hockey player, you would assume that the goal for Julien Nantel - and the Colorado Avalanche organiztion - would be for him to show that he is able to stick as a full-time contributor at the AHL level.
Last year after a very unspectacular run in the AHL for most of the year, Nantel was sent to the ECHL where he played a big role in the Eagles winning their first Kelly Cup Championship. Though he had a very quiet season offensively in both the AHL and during his five regular season games with the Eagles, Nantel exploded for 16 points in the 20 game ECHL run.
Selected in the 7th round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Nantel was always going to be seen as an extreme long shot to make the NHL - and after his first pro season, the same still looks to be true. That said, he’s the kind of player that is important to an organization when trying to maintain a semblance of normality with the minor league teams - something that isn’t always easy to do.
Having never even scored a point per game in the QMJHL, Nantel’s calling card has always been his play away from the puck. He was seen as a defensive forward that shows more responsibility away from the puck that most junior hockey player.
Here’s what the scouts said going into his draft year:
“Nantel is a solid skating two-way forward who will use his frame to protect the puck, has a scorers shot with quick release and knows where to go in the offensive zone to get that scoring chance. Consistency in his efforts needs to be improved. (November 2013)” - Aaron Vickers Future Considerations
“Displays plenty of the attributes that NHL wings must have. Has a good strong skating stride, size, and strength. Excellent on the wall and corners. Wins puck battles and is good on the cycle. uses his strength and strong skating to fight for possession in all zones. Has yet to find a constitent offensive game.” Bill Placzek – Draftsite.com
A few years ago, it seemed as though scouts believed that he had the attributes NHL teams are looking for in a bottom-6 winger, but since then the development of his offensive game hasn’t come along. With that said, if he is able to show that he can continue his strong defensive play and build on the production he showed during the Eagles’ playoff run, it should not be ruled out that he plays in the NHL some day.
Nantel is the type of player that sticks around an organization and one day becomes the AHL captain and a reliable call up to fill in when a team gets into injury problems.
Slotting in at #24 on our list, he’s a guy that is likely destined to be a career minor leaguer - and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Julien Nantel Career Statistics
|2010-2011||Laval Sénateurs Bantam AA||MMBAA||27||17||10||27||2|
|2011-2012||Laval-Montréal Rousseau Royal||QMAAA||40||11||17||28||8|
|2012-2013||Laval-Montréal Rousseau Royal||QMAAA||36||19||21||40||18|
|Laval-Montréal Rousseau Royal||Telus Cup||7||5||5||10||2|
|Canada Québec U17||WHC-17||6||1||0||1||4|
|QMJHL All-Stars||Jr Super Series||2||0||0||0||0|
|2016-2017||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||59||5||3||8||10|
|2017-2018||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||-||-||-||-||-|