The St. Louis Blues‘ affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Springfield Thunderbirds, are off to a great start. There are many players that have played significant minutes for the Thunderbirds that could find themselves in the Blues lineup at some point this season.
We’ve already seen COVID issues force the team’s hand to call up AHL players. But for this article, it’ll be based on the player upside and their chance to be called up and play legitimate time here.
Defense – Scott Perunovich
This is the obvious one, Scott Perunovich has been the best defenseman in the AHL through 11 games for the Thunderbirds, even after he missed a game. While I don’t think the Blues will rush him to the NHL, they should think about it.
Through the 10 games that Perunovich has appeared in, he’s scored 17 points. He leads the AHL in points, and the next-best defenseman has just 10 points, and is ranked 31st. That is a significant stat for Perunovich, and shows he’s no joke when it comes to complete skill and control of his game.
The Blues already need help on the blueline, because with COVID issues and inconsistent play they have relied on goaltending to win multiple games this season. Perunovich adds a different dynamic to the team, and his skill is something that the Blues don’t have, but their competitors do. One of the biggest reasons the Thunderbirds are 8-1-2 is Perunovich.
Forward – Logan Brown
The Blues acquired Logan Brown prior to this season in the Zach Sanford trade with the Ottawa Senators. Brown has played all 11 games in the AHL this season, and has been effective. Brown was drafted 11th overall in the 2016 NHL draft and only played 30 games for the Senators.
This piece isn’t about young prospects making the leap, it’s more about significant AHL players of any status that could get time for the Blues this season. Brown has eight points in 11 games, with four goals overall. He plays center, and you have to think that he is somewhere in the rotation after Dakota Joshua when it comes to center depth. He’s been a big part of the Thunderbirds AHL success.
While it will likely take injuries or COVID issues for Brown to get here, I expect he will play some games for the Blues this season. The St. Louis native has a lot of ability, and the Blues clearly think they can fix what went wrong for him in Ottawa.
Forward – Hugh McGing
This may be a shot in the dark, but with a name like this, Hugh McGing could get a call-up for the Blues this season. He may not be on their radar for the 2021-22 team now, but it’s a long season. Even though he was in the fourth tier of our THW Blues Prospect Pyramid for last season, he is making strides with more AHL games under his belt now.
McGing is a Chicago-born forward who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He played four seasons at Western Michigan University before signing his first professional contract with the Blues in 2020. He had some production struggles in the 23 AHL games he played last season but is off to a better start this season. He has six points in 11 games with the Thunderbirds.
I get that he’s only played 34 professional games, but he’s 23 years old and played a ton of time in college, a total of 147 games.
As mentioned earlier, McGing was in the fourth tier of the January 2021 prospect pyramid on THW, and this paragraph from our own Stephen Ground tells us all about him: “Hugh McGing is the embodiment of an undersized dynamo, but most give him a solid chance of making the NHL. Listed at just 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, McGing spent four seasons at Western Michigan University, finishing as their captain, with 117 points in 147 games. He is a strong and speedy skater with plenty of tenacity, can kill penalties, and if he makes the NHL, he will be a hit with fans (and with undersized color commentator Darren Pang). The only question for McGing is whether he’ll provide enough scoring to offset his size.”
I think McGing will eventually play for the Blues, and it may or may not be this season, either way, the Blues’ prospect pool is getting stronger.
Honorable Mentions: F Sam Anas, F Nikita Alexandrov, D Tyler Tucker
It will be interesting if the Blues try to call up players like the ones I mentioned based on the elite start for the Thunderbirds and their 8-1-2 record. They have a lot of productive players in Springfield and the Blues are likely to dip into their prospect pool at some point, especially with rampant COVID issues and inevitable injuries. The Blues’ future could be bright and these players listed are a big reason why.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.