The St. Louis Blues will be hosting their annual prospect camp from July 11-14 at the Centene Community Ice Center. Players will be taking the ice on July 11 and 13 at 10:15 am, 10:30 am on July 12, and 11:20 am CST on July 14 for a 4-on-4 / 3-on-3 scrimmage. The training camp will feature the clubs’ first-round draft choices from the last two years in Jake Neighbors and Zachary Bolduc, as well as those selected in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. This preview will outline a few of the team’s draft choices that fans will have the opportunity to see and learn more about.
Dylan Peterson (No. 86, 2020)
The first of the Blues two third-round draft choices from the 2020 Draft, Peterson has spent the last two seasons in the NCAA at Boston University. His 2020-21 season saw an adjustment to the collegiate level where he scored six points (three goals and three assists) in 16 games. This season, he saw a dramatic improvement in production where he scored 10 goals and 16 points over 29 games. The 20-year-old Peterson also saw an increase in his on-ice discipline this season, taking 18 penalty minutes compared to 25 in his first season.
He is a lanky forward standing at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds with mediocre offensive upside, oftentimes setting up in front of the net in the offensive zone. He is a strong skater and shot-blocker, often putting his body on the line to help his team win. He is not an overly physical player but uses his body well to kill penalties and long stride to exit the zone quickly and smoothly. If he can secure a spot in the NHL, it will likely be as a bottom-six forward with penalty-killing responsibilities.
Simon Robertsson (No. 71, 2021)
Simon Robertsson (19) is a well-rounded winger that possesses a valuable and dangerous shot. He bounced around the J20, Swedish Hockey League (SHL), HockeyEttan and the Swedish national teams over the last two seasons struggling to find consistent production. While playing for Skellefteå AIK J20, he appeared in 36 games logging 23 goals and 43 points. During his SHL games, things were a little different. This season, he saw a severe reduction in ice time to only 6:45 per game, one of the lowest among skaters that appeared in more than 20 games. His reduction in ice time limited his ability to produce, resulting in only five goals and six points in 48 games.
According to McKeen’s hockey, “Robertsson’s shot and scoring ability were among the best in this draft class. He is also a reliable and consistent player without the puck. He excels on the forecheck due to his good top speed and compete level. He shows good awareness and anticipation in the offensive end, especially in the slot area where pucks just seem to find his stick. Obviously, he is not a perfect player; he does have some characteristics that need to improve and those do partially explain his inconsistencies. The first is his decision making with the puck. Additionally, scouts are looking for him to continue to add more dynamics to his stride, especially while in possession of the puck. If Robertsson’s development goes according to plan, he has the chance to be a top six goal scoring winger who can play in a variety of situations for the Blues (including likely becoming a top penalty killing option). However, even if his play with the puck never improves, he does enough things well to suggest that he could make a reliable middle six supporting winger who can line up alongside more skilled players to help finish off plays and provide two-way stability.” (from ‘McKeen’s 2021-22 Yearbook,’ McKeen’s Hockey, June 2021)
Leo Loof (No. 88, 2020)
Leo Loof was the second of the Blues’ draft picks during the third round of the 2020 Entry Draft. The 20-year-old from Karlstad, Sweden, has twice been named the best defenseman of his age group in the youth levels of Sweden. Since the 2017-18 season, he has been called upon to play for the Sweden U16, U17, U18, and U20 teams playing a combined 32 games, scoring one goal and nine points.
Two years have passed since he was drafted and he was finally able to crack a top league on a full-time basis playing for Ilves of the Liiga. In 48 regular-season games, he scored four goals and 10 points, and two assists in 10 playoff games. Loof is known more for his defensive and physical ability, especially during the World Juniors, rather than his offensive side of the game. His on-ice disciple will need to grow as he ages and matures but should come in time. Should he make it to the NHL, it could come in the form of a bottom-pairing defenseman, maybe a second-pairing if all goes according to plan.
Matt Kessel (No. 150, 2020)
Coming off of his third season with UMass-Amherst, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound defenseman saw games at both the collegiate level and for the first time at the professional level in his career. Kessel signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Blues that will begin in the 2022-23 season. The 22-year-old appeared in 37 regular-season games, scoring six goals and 17 points, and 22 penalty minutes. In 2020-21, Kessel recorded 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 29 regular-season games and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team after helping Amherst win the 2021 NCAA Championship.
Springfield Thunderbird fans got a glimpse of the defenseman this season after appearing in 15 regular-season games registering three assists, and 18 postseason games where he scored his first professional-level goal in overtime of the Calder Cup Final.
Colten Ellis (No. 93, 2019)
Before making his way to the ECHL, the 21-year-old Ellis spent his 2020-21 season as an over-ager in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). It was there that he recorded the best save percentage (SV%) of .926 and the best goals-against average (GAA) of 1.78 in the league on a strong Charlottetown team posting a 23-1-0 record. He took the next step in his hockey career this season with the Worcester Railers after signing his entry-level contract with the Blues on March 1, 2021. In his first season, he went 15-13-5 with a 3.21 GAA and a .905 SV%.
Ellis is quick and athletic but has a tendency to overcommit to the puck and will need to work out if he intends to rise through the ranks to the NHL level. There is a solid foundation for the coaching staff to work with and build upon, but may take him longer than anticipated if he does succeed in making it one day.
While the team may not have many prospects projected to be top-end players in the NHL, the team does have multiple middle and depth pieces to complement their stars. The front office will need to draft well and continue adding well-rounded talent if they intend to keep their Stanley Cup window open and compete year after year.
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.