Sensational Summer Prospect Happenings
- Departure of Barrett Jackman – The Blues, overflowing with defensive prospects, made the decision to let their longest-tenured player and former Calder Trophy winner walk as a free agent. An NHL-ready prospect such as Petteri Lindbohm or Colton Parayko looks to have the inside track to claim a job.
- The 2015 NHL Draft: The Blues were without a first round pick thanks to the infamous Ryan Miller deal, but were still able to snatch up a few quality prospects:
- Vince Dunn: 2nd round, 56th overall – small defender with great offensive ability
- Adam Musil: 3rd round, 94th overall – Huge centre who’s skilled on both ends of the ice
- Glenn Gawdin: 4th round, 116th overall –Not big scoring numbers, but responsible defensively and could become a Bergeron-type player
- Jordan Schmaltz signs entry-level deal – The Blues’ first-round pick in 2012 made the decision in late May to forgo his final season with the University of North Dakota and sign a professional contract with St. Louis.
E-Mac’s Impact Prospects
The top four players in the St. Louis Blues’ prospect pool have a strong chance of making the NHL and being impactful when they do. In addition, there will likely be some of the others who make the NHL, but they are either less likely to have an impact or less likely to make the NHL. Possessing four impact players is slightly below average amongst NHL teams.
As for the rest of the league, the team with the most impact players is Winnipeg with 9 followed by Arizona and Detroit with 8 apiece. Los Angeles falls behind with just 1 impact prospect.
21 and Under Players as of September 15, 2015 in the NHL
(to give one the big picture of young players in the organization)
The Blues, thanks to a roster stacked with talented veterans, currently have no players on their active roster under the age of 21. That could change soon, however, as young prospects such as Ivan Barbashev and Robby Fabbri could make a push for a roster spot with a strong training camp and preseason showing.
Blues NHL Prospect Pool Power Ranking: 18th
Editor’s Note: The Blues were one of only a few teams to have any kind of consensus within our organizational rankings, as all five of the prospect writers had St. Louis ranked within five spots of each other. (Link to rankings of all teams)
Rankings compiled by Eldon MacDonald
St. Louis Blues Next Ones: Top 10 Prospects Summer of 2015
The Next Ones Summer Prospect List includes the top 10 prospects along with 5 honorable mentions and any other 2015 draft choices not previously listed.
2014-15 Team: Moncton, QMJHL
C/LW, L, 6’0″, 190, 57-45-50-95 (+16)
Barbashev was viewed as a draft steal at the time of the 2014 Draft, and he did nothing to dispel that notion with a monster third QMJHL season with the Moncton Wildcats. Playing on a line with CHL points leader Conor Garland, Barbashev tallied nearly 50 goals and 100 points, despite missing more than 10 games due to participation with Russia at the World Junior Championships. A tenacious player who isn’t afraid to play physical and can contribute on both ends of the ice, Barbashev has an outside chance to crack the Blues’ lineup out of training camp this year, but is more likely to start the season in the AHL. However, he looks to be a big part of St. Louis’ future.
2014-15 Team: Guelph, OHL
C, L, 5’10”, 170, 30-25-26-51 (+9)
Robby Fabbri is at the forefront of the “skill over size” movement currently sweeping the NHL, as the undersized centreman has continued to post huge numbers despite his small stature. Aaron Vickers from Future Considerations had this to say about Fabbri heading into the 2014 Draft – “Fabbri is a below average sized buzz saw who works hard and has some of the best feet in the entire draft. He uses his speed and mobility to be shifty and elusive but is also willing to play physical. His hands are skilled, he shows some creativity on the ice and has a quick shot release.” Although Fabbri missed time in 2014-2015 due to injuries and the World Juniors, he still posted impressive numbers and is primed to make his professional debut in 2015-2016 with the Chicago Wolves.
2014-15 Team: Niagara, OHL
D, L, 6’0″, 185, 68-18-38-56 (+8)
Vince Dunn is a player who was ranked much higher than 56th, where the Blues were lucky enough to snatch him up. Many had him pegged as an early second-rounder, or even a first round prospect, because of his high skill level from the blue line. Despite being slightly undersized for a defender, Dunn proved that he can be a force both in the offensive zone and defensive zone by notching a strong +8 plus/minus rating in addition to his hot scoring. Dunn has shown in the past that he excels in a puck-possession type game, so the Blues’ decision to take him makes perfect sense. While he could use a few more years of seasoning and development, he could make a fine addition to the Blues’ defensive corps and power play unit.
2014-15 Team: Chicago, AHL
RW, R, 6’0″, 179, 59-21-21-42 (+7)
After a strong junior career that involved a World Junior Championship appearance and a couple of all-star appearances, Rattie has continued his high-scoring ways in the AHL. While he is not the biggest player on the ice, his tenacity and rocket shot has allowed him to transition his all-out game to the brink of the NHL. While the Blues don’t have many forward spots available on their team, Rattie could force their hand with a strong preseason and training camp.
2014-15 Team: University of North Dakota, NCAA
D, R, 6’2″, 192, 42-4-24-28 (+11)
Jordan Schmaltz is often left out of the conversation when discussing the Blues’ best prospects, and he has flown under the radar since being tabbed with a first round pick all the way back in 2012. However, his play at North Dakota deserves more recognition than he has been getting, as he has been a two-way force ever since arriving in Grand Forks. He is a great skater with a decent shot and good passing ability, giving him the look of a future power-play quarterback. However, his defense is still a work in progress, so he should be ticketed for the AHL next year.
2014-15 Team: HIFK, Liiga
G, L, 6’3″, 207, 41-2.36-.915
Husso, first available for the draft in 2013, was passed over despite being viewed as one of the top goaltenders in his age group. After suffering through a poor season in his draft year, Husso made the leap to the top professional league in Finland and established himself as one of the top young goalies in the world. With a good frame and the numbers to back up his talent level, Husso shouldn’t need much more seasoning before he’s knocking on the door to St. Louis. Still just 20 years old, Husso could be the heir apparent to Brian Elliott in Missouri.
2014-15 Team: Chicago, AHL
D, R, 6’5″, 218, 17-4-3-7 (+4)
Colton Parayko is a towering young Canadian blueliner playing for the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Chicago. While he doesn’t have an overly impressive draft pedigree, his play at every stop since being drafted back in 2012 has surely surpassed all expectations placed upon the massive young defender. After signing with the Blues following the conclusion of his junior season in the NCAA, he put up an impressive 17-game stint in the AHL and looks to be headed for the Blues’ lineup. A huge body with good skating ability and an improving offensive game, expect the St. Louis to give Parayko every chance to develop into a shutdown top-four defenseman.
2014-15 Team: Medicine Hat, WHL
D, R, 6’2″, 174, 44-12-23-35 (+19)
A second-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Tommy Vannelli has quietly endured a winding path to the NHL. After committing to play at the University of Minnesota, Vannelli did an about-face, winding up with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. The right-shooting offensive defenseman has since put up some impressive totals with the Tigers, culminating in a near point-per-game pace in a shortened season last year. He is a very fluid skater with great offensive ability, and has shown in his WHL career to be a very good power-play quarterback. However, he has to continue putting on weight to his tall, skinny frame, and could use some development in his own end of the ice. Though Vannelli could take some time to reach the NHL, the payoff could be well worth it.
2014-15 Team: Chicago, AHL
G, L, 6’1″, 154, 40-2.35-.916
Binnington experienced an up-and-down junior career with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, putting up middle-of-the-road numbers but also participating in one World Junior Championship and making a deep playoff run in 2013. Since he graduated to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, however, Binnington has really established himself as a legitimate NHL prospect. Still quite skinny at just 154 pounds, Binnington shows good agility in the crease and is very good positionally despite his small frame. After putting up such a strong season in the AHL last year, Binnington is knocking on the door to the NHL and could be the first goalie called up in the event Jake Allen or Brian Elliott gets hurt.
2014-15 Team: Hershey, AHL
G, L, 6’4″, 196, 26-2.17-.925
Copley, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan Tech, was never considered a high-end prospect with pedestrian stats at stops in the NAHL, USHL, and NCAA. He broke out with the Hershey Bears last season, finishing in the top 10 in the AHL in both goals against average and save percentage. The Blues targeted him when they traded sniper TJ Oshie to the Washington Capitals, and he looks nearly ready for NHL action. The slim goaltender covers a lot of net and is technically sound in net. If the 23-year old can round out his game in full-time AHL action, he gives the Blues yet another solid goalie prospect for the future.
Five Honorable Mentions
Just outside the top 10, you will find in alphabetical order:
HM – Abelthauser, Konrad – (Trade-San Jose) – 14-15 – Worcester, AHL, D, L, 6’5″, 225, 50-3-16-19 (+2)
HM – Edmundson, Joel – (2011-46) – 14-15 – Chicago, AHL, D, L, 6’4″, 192 , 30-4-8-12 (-2)
HM – Lindbohm, Petteri – (2012-176) – 14-15 – Chicago, AHL, D, L, 6’3″, 209, 53-6-12-18 (+2)
HM – Musil, Adam – (2015-94) – 14-15 – Red Deer, WHL, C, R, 6’3″, 205, 66-15-24-39 (-7)
HM – Walman, Jake – (2014-82) – 14-15 – Providence College, NCAA – D, L, 6’1″, 194, 41-1-15-16 (+4)
Other 2015 Draft Choices Not Listed Above
The other 2015 draft choices not previously listed above:
2015-116 – Gawdin, Glenn – 14-15 – Swift Current, WHL, RW/C, R, 6’0″, 192, 72-15-39-54 (-9)
2015-127 – Mikkola, Niko – 14-15 – KalPa, FIN 2 (Jr. A-SM Liiga), D, L, 6’4″, 185, 37-9-14-23 (+7)
2015-146 – Opilka, Luke – 14-15 – USA U18 NTDP, USHL, G, L, 6’1″, 192, 36-2.77-.883
2015-176 – Dunda, Liam – 14-15 – Owen Sound, OHL, LW, L, 6’4″, 216, 53-2-7-9 (-6)
Have Your Say
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11