The St. Louis Blues’ off season could be summed up in the prospect world as:
Blocking all of the good prospects from playing in the NHL
OFF SEASON MOVES
While the team moved out Berglund, Sobotka, and Thompson for O’Rielly, they signed Bozak, Maroon, Perron, Thorburn, and Nolan, with the latter two being signed for no reason other than to take up contract space and cap dollars (side note: I know Thorburn was signed to a two-year deal but my statement still applies). Add in a (hopefully) healthy Robby Fabbri, plus Zach Sanford, and there is just no room for any of St. Louis’ fantastic prospects (not like I have a bet with Cam Robinson on Robert Thomas making this team or not). The Blues even added Chris Johnson in net blocking soon-to-be starter Ville Husso and forcing him to compete in the AHL with Jordan Binnington.
Let us not forget a big thing for the Blues this upcoming season: The team has its own AHL-affiliate in the San Antonio Rampage, and can now actually focus on developing their AHL-level prospects properly. Last season they had to split with Colorado and send other players around the AHL, so many prospects played in different systems.
Honestly, with the signings this off season it is very hard to see any forwards graduating and unless the Blues move out Bouwmeester and/or Gunnarsson no defensemen are making it outside of the seven they have signed, plus Schmaltz who is a RFA. Vince Dunn may be on a two-way deal but there is no chance he gets sent down. People could have seen Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou and possibly Sammy Blais had the Blues not signed all of the UFAs.
The Blues have 13 forwards signed to one-way deals, and two-way deals for Barbashev, Nolan, and Sanford. The graduating players essentially are Barbashev and Sanford if they manage to stay up all season, which they should as I am a fan of both players. Sanford is more a good two-way bottom-six forward, but Barbashev has skill to score in a top-six role if given the opportunity.
Robert Thomas – Simply put Thomas was a stud this season in the prospect world. He rocketed up many charts due to his fantastic OHL season, good World Juniors, and fantastic OHL playoffs sadly losing in the semi-finals of the memorial cup. He would likely be a shoe-in for a top nine centre spot on 28 NHL teams, sadly one of the teams he would not is the St. Louis Blues. Expect another season of dominance in the OHL for Thomas before the Blues have a big decision on its hands.
Jordan Kyrou – How do you follow up a prospect like Robert Thomas, well by obviously having another prospect that could arguably be better than him. Kyrou had better stats in the World Juniors, and during the OHL season, but ultimately fell flat in the playoffs with four points in 12 games. Kyrou’s 109 points in 56 games ultimately led him to win the Red Tilson Trophy which is awarded to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player as voted by the writers and broadcasters. Kyrou has the skill and ability to make the Blues this season as well but there is just no room (as described above), and he will likely play out another season in the AHL.
Edit: Updated with the information as Kyrou can play in the AHL next season (according to twitter commentators)
Ville Husso – In his second season in North America, this one in the AHL full-time, Husso made the AHL all rookie roster as he had a 0.922 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average for a San Antonio team in flux with two separate NHL teams prospects. There are many who think Husso can step in to the NHL now and compete for the starters crease, but ultimately the Blues felt he would be better served with another AHL season (with a squad of all Blues players) as they signed Chad Johnson to back up Jake Allen for the 2018-2019 season. Husso is a top goalie prospect to own and he will not be in the AHL for much longer after this season, and should get called up when needed.
Sammy Blais – Blais did not look out of place in his 11 game NHL stint in 2018-2018 registering three points. Where Blais surprised everyone was that his AHL production took another step forward with 40 points in 42 games, up from the 43 points in 75 games the year prior. Ultimately Blais could make the NHL squad for 2018-2019 but the Blues have too many players to make room, he should be on the squad so expect him to either play in the AHL with sporadic call ups, or the Blues ship players out and play him full time.
Klim Kostin – This “fallers” listing of Kostin is not completely fair to the player. It was his first season in North America and he was routinely never given time to shine, but at least played the game the coach wanted from him. Unfortunately that led to 28 points in 67 games with low ice time. This upcoming season should see Kostin produce as he will be utilized to actually develop as a young player, so expect an uptick in all categories.
Jordan Binnington – It is amazing how just a few seasons ago Binnington was the goalie of the future for the Blues, and now he is behind Husso and just signed a one-year deal this off season. It is not like his 2017-2018 season was bad as he posted a 0.926 save percentage in 26 games on load to the Providence Bruins. He will be battling Husso for playing time in San Antonio and will need a strong season to make sure the 25 can still have an NHL future.
Zachary Sanford – Sanford is merely on this list because injuries stole what should have been his first full NHL season in 2017-2018. Instead of playing any NHL games he only played 20 AHL games, and was hurt for a second time once he was sent down. Did the Blues make room for him in the upcoming season? No. If they could play five lines he would make the team but now the Blues are in a tough spot with so many extra players, Sanford is not a player they would want to lose n waivers.
TOP 10 PROSPECTS
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