The St. Louis Blues have one of the best pools of prospect talent in the league. When that talent will get to the NHL and will they stay are not easy questions to ask though.
The St. Louis Blues have plenty of good, young talent chomping at the bit to get into the NHL. We have known this for a little bit now, but the rest of the hockey world is starting to take notice.
ESPN’s hockey staff recently ranked the NHL pipelines and the Blues ended up with the eighth best prospect pool in the league. You’ll have to take Post-Dispatch writer Jeff Gordon‘s word for it.
The only reason it can’t be directly linked back to the ESPN article is the story is one of their Insider pieces. So, if you do not have a subscription, you can’t read it. You can only get as far as seeing the Philadelphia Flyers are ranked number one.
Still, it is nice to see the Blues get recognized for something positive. As we have discussed, drafts have not always gone the Blues way.
However, as Gordon pointed out in his article, the Blues have either lucked out or simply drafted very well in recent years. Instead of having the what if’s of missing out on this guy or that, the Blues seemed to have gotten the steals.
The Blues had the sense to not miss out on Vladimir Tarasenko in the same draft when so many other teams shied away from him because of the “Russian issue”. As much as missing out in that 2006 draft hurts, getting Tarasenko in 2010 might have been the biggest coup in team history. Again, as Gordon pointed out, only one player (Tyler Seguin) has had a comparable offensive career so far and he was selected second overall.
St. Louis has also found steals in Colton Parayko, who was drafted 86th overall and clearly has top 10 talent, and Robby Fabbri. Fabbri is still growing as a player, but Parayko might be a true cornerstone guy for this team.
That’s where the positivity gets a little bit muddy. The Blues have drafted quite well in subsequent years, but we don’t yet know whether potential will play out or fizzle out.
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Hockey is still a sport that values veterans and rightly so. It has taken years, and many good drafts along with some mixed results, for the Edmonton Oilers to turn the page. They are finally a contender, but playing nothing but rookies made the process much longer.
St. Louis wants to contend now and in the future. So, they are unwilling to rush anyone into the spotlight.
That is a noble idea. However, St. Louis is at the stage where they need to figure out how talented some of these guys really are. The Blues have enough guys that are third-liners or bottom pairing defenders. If some of these prospects can be top-six forwards or at least replace some of the ghosts the team has on the blue line, then the team needs to know.
It is great to have a highly touted prospect pool. If they never fulfill their potential though, either because they were overvalued or simply never given a chance, then that ranking is fairly meaningless though.
We need look no further than the St. Louis Cardinals. Their farm system might not be ranked that high, but they have had several guys that were highly touted in recent memory. Sadly, not enough of them have panned out and that is why the team is in so much trouble right now.
Compare that with the Chicago Cubs. It might stick in Cardinal fans’ craw, but they drafted well. They then gave those prospects their shot and won a championship because of it.
You can view it one of two ways. The Blues are either being cautious or the prospects might not be ready to unseat those ahead of them on the depth chart.
Eventually we need to find out. Thompson and Kostin are still very young and raw, so continuing their development in the minors is fine. Dunn needs to be given a better shot.
Dunn’s stats have translated at each progressing level very well. He did not wear down in his first full pro season and still put up 45 points in the regular AHL season and six in the playoffs.
St. Louis is in a lucky position of not HAVING to rush or play any of these guys. If they are as good as we hope, though, they need to start getting more chances.
There are plenty of guys on the current roster that, as fans, we like but are not highly thought of outside of our little town. If anyone in the pipeline can be an upgrade, then it might be time to find out.
We will get our chance to see what might be in store soon. The Blues prospects will take part in the annual NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, beginning September 8.