This season, the St. Louis Blues prospects report will be a prominent feature for The Hockey Writers, outlining and showcasing their seasons as the year progresses. The franchise boasts several well-rounded prospects that may not be the flashy ones that many fans covet, but reliable players that can play in all situations for the team.
The 18-year-old Jimmy Snuggerud was drafted 23rd overall by the Blues in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he’s been playing for the University of Minnesota in the NCAA, where he’s a freshman.
He really has a great under- standing of how to create for others. He holds on to the puck to let plays develop, cuts alongside the width of the ice to manipulate defenders, and deceives them with look-offs. You see both a high-level processing speed and anticipation abilities in some of his plays.-EliteProspects 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Since joining the Gophers, Snuggerud has done nothing but score, as the freshman has a team-high 23 points in 18 outings, including a hat trick in just his third collegiate contest. He has recorded three goals on the man advantage while tallying a pair of game-winning goals and is plus-17 for the year.
On Dec. 5, the announcement came that Snuggerud was selected to the training camp roster for the U.S. National Junior Team in preparation for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship in Halifax and Moncton, Canada taking place from Dec. 26 – Jan. 5. While playing for Team USA, he scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games at the 2022 IIHF U18 World Championship in Germany, helping his team secure a silver medal. He also won a gold medal at the 2021 U18 Five Nations Tournament in Monthey, Switzerland, tallying seven points in four games. The Chaska, Minnesota native is still likely a few seasons away from making an appearance in the NHL, as there are multiple prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.
Defenseman Matt Kessel is an intriguing prospect for the Blues organization. Since being drafted 150th overall by the Blues in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he’s had success in the NCAA, winning a championship with the University of Massachusetts in the 2020-21 season and a combined 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 100 regular season games. After signing a two-year entry-level contract with St. Louis, he reported to the Springfield Thunderbirds on a professional tryout, registering three assists in 15 games for the 2021-22 regular season, in addition to one goal and one assist in 18 postseason games.
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In his first full season with the Thunderbirds, Kessel has played 22 games to date, scoring two goals and 10 points while maintaining a consistent presence on the second-pairing unit with Tyler Tucker. He boasts a booming shot and heavy-hitting style of play each game that could help him move through the system quickly and earn a role on the team’s bottom-pairing unit moving forward.
Blues forward prospect Dylan Peterson is a work-in-progress type of player that may take longer to develop as he continues to work his way to the NHL. He is currently tied for 10th in scoring on Boston University, with six points in 13 games. As he continues to mature with age, he has seen progression in his scoring abilities as well. During his first season with Boston University, he produced three goals and six points in 16 games, a 0.38 point-per-game pace. This past season, he saw substantial growth, producing 10 goals and 16 points in 29 games, an increase of 0.17 points per game.
One of the biggest upsides for Peterson’s future is his versatility and the ability to play all three positions up front. The big-framed 6-foot-4, 192-pound forward can play all three positions well and projects to be a skilled shot-blocking, shutdown player. While his offensive abilities would be a welcomed addition to his advance defensive toolbelt, they appear to be a secondary addition to his projected career. Peterson is a true “heart on his sleeve” type of player that will do anything to help his team win.
The Blues are a team in a conflicting state. While the NHL squad is struggling to find consistency and work themselves out of a losing record, this could be a final ride for some of the key players of the organization, like Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. The franchise’s prospect pool is also one of the shallower ones around the league that does not boast any true top-of-the-line, standout players in the coming season beyond the talents of Snuggerud and defenseman Scott Perunovich. The front office will need to ensure any future transactions helps to bolster it to continue the Blues’ high level of competition each year.
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Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.