Whenever the St. Louis Blues draft a player, all fans hope they might have selected the next big thing. While you can never tell how anything will translate to the pro ranks, it is hard to contain excitement when a draftee is declared the best by a neutral party.
The St. Louis Blues crossed their fingers and hoped when they drafted Scott Perunovich in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. In fact, the upper brass had to be prodded into selecting the defenseman with the 45th overall pick.
Perunovich has Keith Tkachuk to thank for that prodding. The Blues should now be thanking Tkachuk as well because the Blues now have the best collegiate player in the land in their ranks.
For those unaware what the Hobey Baker award is, it is the college hockey version of the Heisman Trophy. There are some big names in the NHL that won that award, including Cale Makar (2019), Jack Eichel (2015), and Johnny Gaudreau (2014).
What is just as important, for the organization anyway, is the fact they recently signed Perunovich to an entry-level deal. There was a slight worry since the Blues had not gotten his signature, but given NCAA rules, he could not sign any deal until he was ready to forgo any further college eligibility.
That happened with the contract. Now, Perunovich will be a pro in 2020-21 and the only real question is whether he will be a Springfield Falcon or a St. Louis Blue.
Perunovich has improved his defending each season spent at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but he is still very talented offensively. Scoring 40 points in 34 games prior to the NCAA canceling the end of the hockey season was a main reason he earned the Hobey Baker.
Those totals made him the second highest scoring defender in the country. He was also 10th in scoring overall in the NCAA.
Perunovich won the award in his junior season. He beat out North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman.
As mentioned in previous articles, there is little doubt that Perunovich is disappointed that he was not able to attempt leading the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to a potential third-straight national championship. Winning this award clearly takes some of the sting out.
“I’m extremely honored and humbled,” Perunovich said, reported by the Washington Post. “Five other Bulldogs have won this prestigious award, so it is just a privilege to join them.”
Of course, winning the Hobey Baker is no guarantee of professional success. The 2012 winner, Jack Connolly never made the NHL.
The 2013 winner, Drew LeBlanc only got two games with the Chicago Blackhawks and then nothing. Since those two, all the winners have made the NHL and fairly quickly after winning.
With the Blues still in championship contention, regardless of whether 2019-20 ends without a champion or not, they are in no need to rush Perunovich into the NHL. However, seeing how much he’s improved on top of the talent he already had, it is exciting to think he might not be far away.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 12, 2020
Congratulations to Scott Perunovich on being named the top collegiate hockey player in the country!