Blues’ 4 Untouchable Prospects for 2022-23

The St. Louis Blues don’t have the best prospect pool in the NHL, but they have a lot of quality players. While it is hard to call any of them untouchable, these four should not be traded unless the offer is too good to pass up.

Related: St. Louis Blues Top Prospects – 2022 Offseason

For example, the Blues likely would have had to include one of their top prospects in a trade for Matthew Tkachuk, but it didn’t get that far. Each of these four players is crucial to the future of the franchise.

1. Jake Neighbours – Left Wing

The Blues took Jake Neighbours in the first round of the 2020 Draft, and since then, he has continued to dominate in the Western Hockey League (WHL). He also played nine games for the Blues on a trial basis last season.

Jake Neighbours St. Louis Blues
Jake Neighbours, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Neighbours had 78 points in 49 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. He was also named captain last season and continues to show his strong leadership skills. I consider him potential captain material for the organization down the road as he has similar traits to Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn, two of the Blues’ best leaders.

In his nine-game trial, he showed toughness and power without the fear of going into the dirty areas. He has been described as a power forward with skill, and he showed those traits as well in his first few NHL games. He has a ton of potential and could crack the opening night lineup as early as this season.

2. Zachary Bolduc – Center

Similar to Neighbours, Zachary Bolduc was the Blues’ first-round pick in the 2021 Draft, chosen 17th overall from the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). After putting up a solid season in 2020-21 for the Oceanic, he’s made massive strides since.

Zachary Bolduc Rimouski Oceanic
Zachary Bolduc of Rimouski Oceanic (Iften Redjah – Foliophoto)

Bolduc has also been on a tear since he joined the Quebec Remparts. In 2021-22, he scored 55 goals and 99 points in 65 games. He possesses an elite shot, which was on display at the Blues’ prospect camp. The biggest indicator of his potential will come with playing time in the American Hockey League (AHL), this season. This type of talent should not be traded at 19 years old.

3. Jimmy Snuggerud – Right Wing

Jimmy Snuggerud is another one of the Blues’ first-round picks from the last three years, selected 23rd overall pick in the 2022 Draft from the United States National Development Program (USNDP). While playing for the U.S. National Under-18 Team last season, he had 63 points in 59 games.

Snuggerud has the ability to create plays and possesses a calmness with the puck that allows scoring chances to develop. His speed and skill were showcased at Blues prospect camp this summer. Snuggerud will have an opportunity to score a lot of points in his first season with the University of Minnesota, playing alongside Logan Cooley (selected 3rd overall in 2022). It will be worth keeping an eye on his development this season.

4. Joel Hofer – Goaltender

The Blues must consider Joel Hofer as a significant part of their future. At just 22 years old, he has had success at both the AHL and NHL levels. The Blues signed veteran backup goaltender Thomas Greiss to a one-year deal with the intention of playing Hofer in 2023-24.

Joel Hofer of the Swift Current Broncos
Joel Hofer of the Swift Current Broncos (courtesy Swift Current Broncos)

Hofer earned a save percentage (SV%) of .934 in 10 playoff games last season for the Thunderbirds. He was a big reason why they were the runner-up for the Calder Cup. He had a .880 SV% for the Blues in two starts last season, but there were signs that he could improve with the proper development.

The Blues are thin on goaltenders in their pipeline, and Hofer is standing above the rest. They must hold onto him and make him the backup in 2023-24 to push Jordan Binnington to another level.

An honourable mention goes to defenseman Scott Perunovich, who shouldn’t be traded, but is still behind Torey Krug on the depth chart. I believe he is a key piece moving forward, but the makeup of the Blues’ roster makes him vulnerable right now. Either way, the Blues don’t possess a lot of untouchable talent, but they have managed to swing big trades without them in the past.

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