According to ESPN.com, the Blues have the 17th ranked prospect pipeline in the NHL. They are behind division rivals Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets, while leading both the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators. Frankly speaking, St. Louis dropped considerably after they brought up forward Jaden Schwartz, and were lucky to pick up Jordan Schmaltz late in round one. The Blues further bolstered their pipeline by adding Vladimir Tarasenko, largely considered one of the top prospects outside the NHL. Other prospects include forwards Ty Rattie, currently in the WHL, and Dmitri Jaskin. ESPN considers St. Louis’ top under the radar prospect to be center Ryan Tesink, an undersized yet hockey smart and hard working player.
Here are the top three teams in the ESPN rankings:
1. Florida Panthers- The Panthers’ elite prospect, C Jonathan Huberdeau is considered the top NHL ready center, and is expected to make a big impact to the playoff team. Other forwards Quinton Howund and Nick Bjugstad should enter the NHL after next season, and will bolster the offenses for years to come. Defensemen Alex Petrovic and Michael Matheson (a 2012 first-round pick) look to be a future defensive pair after they marinate in lower leagues for another year.
2. Minnesota Wild- Even as the Wild made a huge splash in free agency, their drafting over the past few years was equally impressive. Recently signed, top prospect Mikael Granlund will be sure to contribute, probably on the second line, for Minnesota this year. Defensemen Mathew Dumba and Jonas Brodin are both considered to be top-10 defensive prospects. Their top offensive player in the minors is Charlie Coyle.
3. Montreal Canadiens- Considered to have one of the best drafts of the past decade, Montreal added multiple impressive pieces in 2012. They now have assembled a strong pool of young, talented prospects, something they have lacked of late. C Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia-OHL), this year’s first-round selection has a chance to be special, as does second-round pick Sebastian Collberg (SWE). The draft class could propel the Habs forward, as they have begun to develop some good depth at forward while also having a strong, young NHL defensive corps.