With the Blues having completed a number of deals that saw the exodus of a few of their top prospects, the top 25 list has been revamped. Still some good depth, although a limited number of bonafide high impact guys. The good news is that more than 10 of these prospects have seen time in the NHL this season, as a good portion of the group is knocking on the door of being full-time NHLers.
Traded: Calvin de Haan (6), Dmitri Orlov (11), Aaron Ness (13)
Graduated: Andrew MacDonald (18)
1/ Jordon Eberle (NR). A key piece in the Seabrook trade, Eberle has shown a seamless transition of his sublime offensive skills to the NHL. Sure to be a long-term fixture on the Blues scoring line for years to come.
2/ Lars Eller (1). Playing a depth checking roll with the Canadiens, Eller has not made the impact some expected, but still has 2nd line center upside and is a safe bet to be a solid two-way checking line center worst case.
3/ Ian Cole (4). Started slowly, but has been a horse with Peoria of late, and also been a late call-up to the NHL. Has some offensive upside, but mostly a huge physical frame with good mobility.
4/ Maxim Goncharov (3). Could easily be #3 or #6 on this list. The most upside of the Blues many bluechip defenders, Maxim has had no troubles adjusting to North American hockey and is a safe bet to challenge for an NHL spot next season.
5/ Jhonas Enroth (5). Enroth has been solid in call-up duty for the Sabres, but continues to bide his time in the minors due the Miller-era in Buffalo.
6/ Jordon Caron (15). After making a stacked Bruins squad in training camp, Caron has been back and forth in the AHL, producing whenever he has had the ice time. A big frame and slick hands, he plays a protypical power-forward game.
7/ Evgeny Grachev (2); Grachev is finally ‘getting it’ at the pro level, producing at better than a point-per-game clip in the AHL in January, resulting in a call-up to the Rangers. Has a great size-speed combination, and still only 20 years old, so the Blues are being patient.
8/ Roman Josi (12). Injured at the beginning of the year, Josi has made an immediate impact with his offensive flair as a rookie in the AHL this season, and shows the potential to be a top 4 offensive catalyst in the NHL some day.
9/ Chris Summers (7). Another AHL rookie defender, Summers has been a terrific two-way player for the Yotes AHL affiliate, resulting in a brief call-up in January where he didn’t look out of place. Great skater, high character defender.
10/ Kevin Hayes (NR). As a depth forward with Boston College who has battled injuries in his freshman campaign, it has been the best year for Hayes, but he remains an intriguing offensive project the Blues will be patient with.
11/ Viktor Tikhonov (9): it’s hard to believe Tikhonov is only 22 given his ups and downs over the last several years, but he has turned around his offensive game in the New Year after a poor start in the AHL, mostly stemming from his disappointment of not cracking the Coyotes.
12/ TJ Brennan (19). Brennan has quietly put together a terrific year in the AHL, on pace for nearly 40 points and combined with his physical play, makes him a potential complete package top 4 defender down the line. A big shot to boot.
13/ Jan Mursak (8): Mursak’s progression has continued, using his top end speed and sniping ability to get a lengthy call-up with the Red Wings this year, which is no small feat given the slow speed at which they bring along their young players.
14/ Ben Maxwell (14): While his peers have been getting call-up to the Canadiens, Maxwell’s workmanlike two-way game have him leading his AHL team in scoring, yet again. While not overly flashy, Maxwell is a terrific skater who projects as a solid checking center worst case.
15/ Johan Larsson (NR): A favourite of management, Larsson was solid at the WJC’s as an 18 year old, and was named by the coaches as one of the squad’s top 3 players, ahead of more heralded forwards such Anton Lander and Calle Jarnkrok. A terrific two-way player who has played his way onto Brynas full-time in the SEL now.
16/ Erik Gustafsson (NR); Gustaffson’s offensive game has translated immediately to the pro ranks, where he has led his AHL squad in scoring for most of the year, which is not small feat for the undersized defender. Projects as a future powerplay specialist at the very least.
17/ Reilly Smith (22). A late cut on the Canadian WJC team, Smith has been tearing up the NCAA this year with 21 goals and 39 points in 31 games – heady numbers for a sophomore. Could easily be in the top 12 on this list by season’s end.
18/ Dmitri Kugryshev (16). “Koogs” has had his struggles in the AHL this season, as he made the transition from a top scorer in the Q, to a 20 year old in the AHL. This year has been a learning year and he will hopefully grow into a more potent offensive player next season.
19/ Joni Ortio (NR): Some feel Ortio could easily have won the top goaltender award at the WJC, as he put up some terrific performances for his Finnish squad. He has also made the transition to the Finnish elite league this season without much trouble and looks like an intriguing goaltending prospect going forward.
20/ Yann Sauve (21): Sauve was hit by a car during training camp, almost making this year a total washout, as he didn’t join the Canucks AHL team until around the New Year – not an easy first step for an AHL rookie. Fast forward a month later, and Sauve was logging quality minutes for the Canucks during their plague of injuries on the blueline.
Honourable mention: Mattieu Corbeil-Theriault, Dennis Persson, Frederik Pettersson, Niclas Lucenius, Tomas Kundratek, Nikita Dvurchensky, Anton Burdasov, Jesper Samuelsson, Timo Seppanen, Richard Demen-Willaume, Derek LaPoint, Konrad Abelthauser, Nikita Zaytsev, Corey Cowick, Jonathan Johansson