It’s been draft discussion season for the St. Louis Blues for nearly a month now. The 2023 NHL Entry Draft will be crucial in determining the future of the franchise. They currently have five picks in the first three rounds of the 2023 Draft, including two third-round picks. The rankings used in this article will be Central Scouting’s final rankings and our own Logan Horn’s top 100 for May.
This draft is a terrific opportunity for the Blues to boost their prospect system, which is thin in certain areas. As of right now, their two top prospects above the rest are 2021 first-round pick Zachary Bolduc and 2022 first-round pick Jimmy Snuggerud. The Blues have had success in the third round under general manager Doug Armstrong.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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Notable third-round picks since 2010 include Jake Walman, Mackenzie MacEachern, Colton Parayko, and Jordan Binnington. Recent third-round picks over the past few years look promising as well. Those prospects are Michael Buchinger, Leo Lööf, and Simon Robertsson. The 2023 Draft class is loaded, so this will be an intriguing third round to make selections in. The Blues have the 74th and 76th overall picks in the third round. Here are four prospects that make sense at either spot.
1. Cam Allen, Defenseman, Guelph Storm (OHL)
CS Ranking: 46th (North America) / THW Ranking: 75th (Horn)
First up is right-handed defenseman Cam Allen from the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). I’m not sure he will be available for the Blues with the 74th pick, but he should be one of their top options if he is. His pre-draft rankings are all over the map. However, there are several intriguing parts of his game.
Allen stands at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. His production went down in the 2022-23 season. That is part of the reason why he dropped in some rankings. He dropped 17 spots in the final rankings for North American skaters. However, a lot of changes happened with the Storm and they got off to a terrible start. He also got injured and missed six games. There are flashes of excellence in his game. As such, he could be a Day 2 steal.
“Two-way blueliner with inconsistent hockey sense who defends well and drives play from the back end. Possesses good mobility and competes hard, projecting as a potential middle-pairing defenseman at the NHL-level.”Dobber Prospects
I’d argue that Allen is more offensively-minded, but he has solid potential as a two-way defenseman at the NHL level. It’ll be important for him to get drafted by an organization that develops prospects well. The Blues are one of those organizations right now.
2. Emil Järventie, Left Wing, Ilves U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
CS Ranking: 33rd (Europe) / THW Ranking: 80th (Horn)
Next up is undersized winger, Emil Järventie. The Finnish winger is one of the most talented Day 2 prospects. His size will affect where he is selected though, I believe. At 5-foot-10 and 168 pounds, he’s likely to be a bit more of a project prospect when he is drafted. He has plenty of talent and skill, but there are areas of his game that must be improved. However, draft evaluators like him a lot.
“Jarventie is an offensive winger with a lethal shot. He has had a pretty eventful season playing for several different teams, which has definitely affected his level of play. As an offensive guy, being slotted in on the fourth line for a struggling SaiPa team is definitely not the optimum situation. He wasn’t really able to showcase most of his strengths during this game, although there were a few occasions where you could see some flashes of the puckhandling and confidence that has made him a decent prospect…”Rasmus Tornqvist, FC Hockey
The Blues have taken undersized forwards after the first round before. But it’s usually not their style. I don’t think Armstrong and his staff would hesitate to take a player like Järventie if he is available with the 74th or 76th pick. Either way, it’s going to take a while for him to become NHL-ready, if he ever does. The talent is there, though.
3. Aram Minnetian, Defense, USA U18 (NTDP)
CS Ranking: 78th (North America) / THW Ranking: 83rd (Horn)
Aram Minnetian is the second right-handed defenseman on this list. I like him a lot in the third round for the Blues, even if he’s viewed as a reach. They need to add more defensemen into the system and he would be a solid addition. After prospects like Matthew Kessel and Buchinger, the Blues are thin at defense in the prospect pool. Despite falling 21 spots in the final Central Scouting rankings, my thoughts on Minnetian haven’t wavered.
Minnetian played 55 games for the United States National Development team over the last two seasons. For what it’s worth, his plus/minus went from minus-11 in 2021-22 to plus-16 in 2022-23. His best attribute is his skating. That’s significant for a blueliner. He has the ability to create space and make crisp passes. He’s a good passer as well, despite his production lacking over the past two seasons. There’s still a chance that he’s taken in the second round, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell to the Blues though. His Central Scouting ranking amongst North American skaters at 78 is rough.
4. Mathieu Cataford, Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
CS Ranking: 36th (North America) / THW Ranking: 89th (Horn)
The final player on this list is forward Mathieu Cataford of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). I would be mildly surprised if he is on the board for the Blues in the third round, but there’s always a chance that they move up late in the second round to take a player like him. He’s an intriguing prospect in several ways.
“His ability to string plays together with intelligent positioning and quick reads is highly translatable, giving him a relatively safe floor as an NHL prospect.”Nick Richard
His production with the Mooseheads from last season to this season heavily increased. In the 2022-23 season, he tallied 31 goals and 44 assists for 75 points in 68 games. Last season, he had just 46 points in 62 games. Blues’ 2020 first-round pick Jake Neighbours had a major production increase in the Western Hockey League (WHL) in his draft year. The Blues must take that into account with Cataford as well. I think he has the potential to be a slam dunk pick in the third round if he’s available.
I think any of these four prospects would be excellent additions to the Blues’ prospect pool. There are countless options with the depth of this class. The Blues picked a good draft year to miss the playoffs, as they have premium picks in the 2023 Draft. Five picks in the first three rounds will be fun for Armstrong to use. I think the Blues will be the most active team during the 2023 Draft.