A combination of deft scouting and shrewd picks has enabled the Blues to remain competitive for a sustained period of time. For examples look no further than recent draftees Robby Fabbri and Colton Parayko. Both players were huge contributors for the Blues this past season and played critical roles in their march to the Western Conference Final. Fabbri, drafted in the opening round of 2014 after 20 other teams passed on him, was arguably the Blues best player in the playoffs and Parayko, an early season Calder Trophy favourite, was and unheralded third rounder from 2013. With picks like these and more on the way, St. Louis has set itself up nicely for the future.
Nikolaj Krag Christinsen
Jake Walman – Walman has really rocketed up the prospect ranks thanks to an exceptional season skating for the Providence Friars. Were it not for a shoulder injury, there’s a good chance Walman would have been in the Hobey Baker conversation at the end of 2015-16. He came out like a bullet scoring 13 goals and 28 points in 27 games averaging over four shots per game. A dual citizen of the US and Canada, he declared his allegiance to the Great White North and was squarely on Hockey Canada’s radar for the 2016 WJC before the aforementioned injury ended his season. It will be interesting to see what he can do in his third college season and if he can build off a strong sophomore campaign.
Ville Husso – A brilliant 2015-16 season has vaulted Husso into the upper echelon among goaltending prospects. In his third season with HIFK-Helsinki in the Liiga, Husso posted a record of 28-8-3 with five shutouts, a 1.91 GAA and 0.927 SVS. Both of these marks were the best in the league and rightly earned Husso All-Star team honours as well as the Urpo Ylonen Award for Best Goaltender. Amazing he was even better in the playoffs going 9-6 with four shutouts, a 1.55 GAA and 0.935 SVS en route to a Silver Medal. All this from a player that just turned 21 earlier in the year. Signed to an entry-level deal, it’s a little unsure where he’ll play this upcoming season given the crowded crease in the AHL. But regardless of where he plays he should be a dominant puck stopping force.
Pheonix Copley – Hailing from the North Pole, Copley has made a name for himself within the St. Louis organization. Originally a Washington Capital property, Copley came over to the Blues in the summer and had a very good first year with the AHL affiliate. Splitting playing time with Jordan Binnington, Copley went 15-16-3 with a 2.79 GAA and 0.909 SVS on a sub-.500 Chicago Wolves team. His services were called upon for 24 minutes of NHL action, his first taste of the big leagues, where he surrendered one goal on six shots. As mentioned earlier it’s a bit of a logjam on the goalie depth chart (a good problem to have) and he may not have the cachet of Husso or Binnington but his play if making him hard to ignore.
Ty Rattie – Four years since being an early second round pick, Rattie has yet to find a permanent home in St. Louis. In brief stints he’s shown flashes of the offensive instincts that made him an elite junior scorer but hasn’t been given a substantial amount of ice time to build upon it. To date Rattie has 26 NHL games under his belt registering four goals and four assists. If he’s going to make the jump, now would be the time to do it. With David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Steve Ott all departing for greener pastures the opportunity is there. And signed to a one-year deal, the motivation should be as well.
Tommy Vannelli – A concussion robbed Vannelli of all but seven games of his first professional season, where he only managed a single assist. Boasting prodigious offensive skills with the puck the future's still potentially bright for Vanelli but he’ll need to really show something this upcoming year to remain a factor among defense prospects as Jordan Schmaltz and Walman are both ahead of him on the depth chart at this point.
Conner Bleackley – Bleackley has really seen his star fall as a prospects since being drafted in the first round by Colorado in 2014. In his second go-round with the draft, St. Louis felt he was worth picking in the fifth round and promptly signed him to an entry-level deal. His production has declined in each of the last two seasons with Red Deer. A fresh start with a new organization could be just what Bleackley needs to get his game back on track and prove that he has what it takes to be an NHL player.
Top 10 Rankings (Fantasy)
#1 Ivan Barbashev – Top two playmaking centreman. 1-2 years away. 65-70 points.
#2 Jordan Schmaltz – Second pairing d-man and PP contributor. 1-2 years away. 45-50 points
#3 Ville Husso – Elite starting goalie. All-star potential. 2-3 years away
#4 Tage Thompson – Top six goal scoring winger and shot machine. 2-3 years away. 55-60 points
#5 Jake Walman – Top-four offensive d-man. 2-3 years away. 50-55 points.
#6 Jordan Kyrou – Second line centre who can play in all situations. 3-4 years away, 55-60 points.
#7 Ty Rattie – Middle six sniper. This fall. 55-60 points.
#8 Samuel Blais – Middle six playmaker. 3-4 years away. 50-55 points.
#9 Pheonix Copley – Part time starter/Very good backup. 1-2 years away.
#10 Vince Dunn – Bottom four defense and PP specialist. 3-4 years away. 40-45 points.