The St. Louis Blues have always placed a lot of importance on the prospect tournament that takes place in Traverse City. This season’s tournament could have big implication’s on the team’s future.
The St. Louis Blues opened the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan on Friday with a bang. Unfortunately, they went out with a whimper.
In their opener against the prospects for the Minnesota Wild, the Blues jumped out to a 5-1 lead. They then saw five unanswered hit the twine and fall 6-5. Still, there were positives to take from the game.
“You see their skill, trying to make plays, and certainly like all young players, there are some things that are going to need to be taught and habits to be learned,” said Blues coach Mike Yeo on the team website. “I thought (Jake) Walman really stuck out to me and (Robert) Thomas had an exceptional game. We had a number of guys playing well, but those two in particular. It was a good showing.”
On top of the names Yeo mentioned, Klim Kostin was quite impressive. The Russian scored two goals in his first action since having shoulder surgery in December.
Kostin is a guy that fans are very excited about. Many will hope he can come up with a big surprise and make the NHL team right away.
That seems a bit of a stretch right now. However, if he can keep up scoring performances like that, it might be sooner into the NHL than later.
One of the other players the Blues have a serious eye on, Jake Walman, had three assists. Not a bad tally from a blueliner.
“I want to be careful throwing names out there, but there’s the obvious,” said Yeo, to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch. “Tage Thompson is a first-rounder (from 2016). Jake Walman is a player on defense that certainly we’re gonna be having our eyes on.”
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While it is only one game into the guaranteed three of the tournament, it is good to see names the fans are high on coming up big already. It could just be one good game, or it could be guys stepping up to the plate.
That is exactly what the Blues need. Chances are very high that we know who will make up the Blues lineup come opening day. However, the Blues have plenty of top notch prospects and if they can storm into one of those roster spots, nobody should be upset.
In fact, we should all be hopeful that some of these guys can showcase their talents at the NHL level sooner rather than later. The Blues need another influx of guys that have not yet been exposed to the Blues odd history of mediocrity.
St. Louis is in a favorable position right now. They can afford to have one or two prospects make the team if they force their way in. On the other hand, they are not forced to use any of them like Edmonton or other teams have been.
Hockey is still very much a veteran’s game and will probably always be, to an extent. Talent rules all, but it still takes experience to be a winner most years. NHL history is littered with teams that had to lose before they could win it all, such as the Oilers of the 80’s and Penguins of the late-2000’s.
Still, the Blues have had much success with guys that were not held back when they showed their worth. Robby Fabbri took the team by storm in his rookie season. Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson refused to allow themselves to be sent to the minors once they made the team.
So, we should all hope that guys like Thompson, Kostin, Walman or Thomas are good enough to make the team right away. Even if they are not, it seems like the Blues have plenty of guys that are on the cusp without falling into that category of being a career prospect, where we are always hoping and never see them.
There will be plenty more opportunities for these guys to showcase themselves. The tournament continues September 9 at 6pm and September 11 at 2pm. If you are off work, you can catch the games on the Fox Go App.