that being said,
What did a 25 year old Gragnani do that was impressive while he was getting his RFA games in?
Tanev is far and away our best D prospect and he's going to be a very steady top 4 d-man for us in the future.
Right. Tanev is the best young player. I would not call him a prospect anymore. Playing shutdown with Hamhuis he was absolutely lights out. Hamhuis and Tanev were even better as a shutdown pairing that Hamhuis and Bieksa. (The only problem is that playing with anyone other than Hamhuis really reduces Bieksa's avlue to the team.) If AV was not so reluctant to give young players a decent shot he would have been with the team all year. (AV likes players to "pay their dues".)
Gragnani looked very promising when he was in the AHL but he has not developed. At age 25 he should not be all that far from peak performance and he should be showing more now if he really is destined to be a star. And he has not improved much in the past couple of years. Connauton, on the other hand, continues to make good progress and looks good for a guy who is only 22. Apparently his defensive play improved a lot this year to complement his offensive upside. I see him passing Gragnani next year in value to the team. No guarantees, but on his current trajectory he projects as a solid top 4 D by the time he is 25 -- Gragnani's current age.