Top five fair for Cade?
What are the opinions out there on Cade Fairchild?
I thought he looked good in his brief stint with the Blues. Right now (Feb 21) he's +30with Peoria, which has few + players, and has 27 points in 45 games in his rookie
AHL season. That's impressive.
Yeah, he's not too big (5'11", 186lbs), but he's mobiile and intelligent.
Here's my rankiing of the Blues' top ten prospects (this should stir up some debate and criticism):
1) Tarasenko; 2)Schwartz; 3)Rattie; 4)Cole; 5)Fairchild; 6)Bishop; 7)Allen; 8)Hakanpaa; 9)Edmundson; 10)Lehtera
I actually like him more than Cole, though I know Cole`s trade value has to be higher. I`d rank Bishop higher, but I doubt he has a future in St. Louis and I`m skeptical about the team getting much more than a 4th rounder or a veteran grinder for him.
He has looked good in Peoria. Hard to explain his +/- compared to the rest of the team other than he does generate offense from the blue line. He looks smaller than 5'11" 186lbs, but that is what the roster says. Most impressed by the way he's adjusted to the pro game. He came to Peoria just battling to get a spot and now he's getting big minutes.
Reminds me of Russell more than any other Blue. He has good vision, is a good passer and has an accurate shot although not a hard shot. Still needs to work in the d-zone and battle like Russell to make up for the lack of size.
I still rank him third when it comes to our defensive prospects (behind Cole and Hakanpää). I haven't seen enough of Edmundson to have an opinion. He still has work to do before he is NHL ready, and I don't think he ceiling is as high as Cole or Hakanpää.
good post. I was just thinking it was time to adjust the prospect ratings. I agree that Fairchild has been a big surprise. He has very good hockey sense. Rattie jumps up and McRae and Grachev should be in the top 10-12. Ponich adds little offense but appears to have had an OK first season in Peoria coming off knee surgery. Edmunson started off his season with a high ankle sprain but has not improved his offense this season as was expected. The Blues pipeline is in very good shape when you consider players like McRae, Grachev, Ponich and Edmunson rank around being the clubs 8th to 13th best prospects.
As far as prospect rankings, I'd definitely have McRae in the top 8 and likely Fairchild a bit lower. Cole is more NHL ready for sure. Cundari has had a tough year and would slip down on my ranking. Ponich is a project will take some time before we know if there's NHL talent there. Shields has been solid so far.
Re: Fairchild/prospect list
I'm not sold on Grachev. I don't see what it is that his supporters see. Granted he didn't get much more than fourth line time in St. Louis, but he hasn't exactly lit it up in Peoria either, nor did he with the Rangers' affiliate. Sure he can suit up as a fourth-liner, but can he do more?
The hype for McCrae is maybe even more perplexing. He wasn't much more than a point-per-game player in the OHL (and he had some amazing talent around him). Both he and Grachev have good size, sure, but neither have the hands nor the speed to be effective as scorers or as members of a shut-down checking line. So where do they play?
As for Cole vs Fairchild, I'm really undecided as to who I like more. It's interesting to note that a few years or more ago they were both members of the U.S. entry at the World Junior tourney and Fairchild was easily the better of the two.
I should have ranked Hakanpaa higher probably. He was very impressive at this last World Juniors.
I have high hopes for Allen (but, hey, I had high hopes for Tony Hrkac)
You watch Gravchev and come away wanting more. He was among the scoring leaders in the preseason when he was on a line with other top forwards. He has better than average speed for his size and has solid hands and hockey IQ. He still has a chance. I just don't know about McRae. He is a good face man which makes him a potential checking line center who has some offensive abilities but most checking line centers have above average speed which he does not have.
I think Fairchild will be an NHLer. Tough to put him above Cole at the moment based on almost any measure, but all those guys coming out of USTNDP seem to be solid lately: Shattenkirk, Cole, Fairchild.
I remember on the other board getting killed a few months ago for scoffing at the idea Rattie was behind Junland and Lehtera (think someone had posted Strickland's list and then told me no offense but Strickland has a better pulse on prospects thank you very much). I'm glad to see it's now taken as a given that Rattie is well past those two.
Hard to not have the first four as:
Cole is a likely top-4 NHLer and is basically ready to play every day. Physical defenders are less sexy than snipers so some want to put Rattie above him. However, Rattie has more hurdles to clear before he proves he can compete when competition becomes more physical (as it will at the higher levels) so either listing of 3/4 is legit. I'd probably give the slight edge to Cole but wouldn't quibble with others who didn't as long as Cole was in the top 4.
I don't want to put Bishop in there as a prospect. HF has already removed him because he's past the age cutoff and realistically he has no future with the Blues. Goalies are so unpredictable anyway those are two good reasons to avoid it. I even hate listing Allen.
After the first four it becomes a more interesting debate than we've seen in awhile. Hakanpaa really impressed me at WJC. He would seem for a moment like he was awkward skating and the next moment his athleticism would just pop. He's very raw but obviously has HUGE upside. I mean, Erik Johnson athleticism upside. They're strikingly similar body type/athleticism. EJ was a vastly more fluid skater earlier than Hakanpaa, but skating is a thing that improves more easily than other things. He has farther to go than prospects in the next tier of discussion: Allen, Fairchild, McRae, Lehtera but of that group if he reaches his capacity he'd have by far the highest impact.
McRae should be an NHL player but it's not likely to be a top-6 role (at least with the way the Blues are looking) unless he makes another development leap. Still, bottom-six center in the NHL is not a bad get for a second round prospect. His shot is good so it's not inconceivable he winds up as a 2d line center one day.
Allen has had a down year but has been better lately. Look at Bishop for evidence that where Allen is now in his Peoria career is not the final say. The fact that he's had so much competitive experience so young is only a good thing. He's really not falling anywhere but I always hate even ranking goalies mixed in with skaters because there's almost no purpose to it.
Lehtera's season is over due to injury. He's big, very talented and once in the offensive zone clearly has top-6 skills. His first few skating strides are way behind NHL quality and this alone would keep him out of the league until those are fixed. He plays in Russia but is not a native Russian so there's no particular reason to think he wouldn't come over, but my guess is he carves out a career and makes some comfortable money in Europe.
Proximity to NHL is McRae, Fairchild, Allen, Lehtera, Hakanpaa in that order probably. Upside order is Hakanpaa, Allen, Lehtera, Fairchild, McRae.
My list based on the foregoing:
3. Cole (or Rattie)
4. Rattie (or Cole)
10. Grachev (a 6.0B in HF terms, but 5.0A at worst)
11. Ponich (still a project dligently making progress at pro level)
12. Eronen (was an overager to begin with and having a leap forward year)
After that there are plenty of options. Lots of quality prospects who could make a case for themselves. Edmunsen, Jaskin, Tesink, Wannstrom, Lundstrom, Beach, Villieux, Karpowich.
I'm really glad that Hakanpaa is showing up on your list Pocket. I'm not impressed with Fairchild. While he could be a decent NHLer, I see his upside as a Colaiacovo type. Is in the NHL, but you could really care less if he wasn't on your team.
That's what I'm hoping for. As long as he makes a decent #5 or #6, I'd consider that a huge success for the organization. Too many people are trying to put him on Cole's level, and that's just not right. I should have put "I'm not that impressed" instead of what I did. Regardless of what we all think, he has a long way to go with a lot of stiff competition.
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