Making their way to graduation are two of the Blues best prospects, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. While Schwartz has had a major coming out party this season, Tarasenko has proven his abilities as a full-time NHL player over the past couple years.
At the start of the season, the wing position was extremely deep and might have been one of the best in the NHL. However, with Schwartz and Tarasenko moving on, and the underperforming prospects at the position, the Blues are looking much stronger at other positions. While center remains the biggest red flag in the system, the defensemen and goaltenders have improved dramatically.
1. Jake Allen, G, 7.5B
Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2008
Allen has already played in the NHL and proved his abilities as a number one, but the Blues recent moves suggest that the NHL squad might want to keep the younger goaltenders at bay while they chase the Stanley Cup. On the brighter side, Allen has been the go-to-guy for the AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves and has played extremely well. In 46 games played this season, Allen has maintained a 2.12 goals against average and .925 save percentage. His record is 29-15-2 and he has shown the ability to carry the load for the Wolves, which helps him take over the top spot in these rankings.
2. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 41st overall, 2011
This year, Jaskin has surpassed all expectations and has performed well in the AHL. He has scored 15 goals and 14 assists in 42 games. He was recently called up to the NHL once again and has played in 12 games thus far. Jaskin has proven his versatility as an all-around forward, being reliable in the defensive zone and providing secondary scoring when necessary.
3. Jordan Binnington, G, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 88th overall, 2011
Binnington is another player suffering from the immense depth at the goaltending position. Though he has the skill to perform as an AHL player, he has been forced to play in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings. This season, Binnington has played in 33 games and has posted a 2.28 goals against average to go along with a 0.924 save percentage. His performance has been good enough to move him into the top five prospects in the Blues’ system.
4. Ty Rattie, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 32nd overall, 2011
Going into his first year of professional hockey, it was a concern that Rattie would be undersized or not enough of an all-around player to make an impact immediately. This season, playing as a rookie with the Wolves, Rattie has scored an impressive 27 goals and 15 assists in 64 games. He is not an effective player in a bottom-six role, which limits his production as an all-around player. Rattie will be staying in the AHL until his offensive skills become more consistent.
5. Tommy Vannelli, D, 7.5D
Drafted 2nd round, 47th overall, 2013
Vannelli is an example of the perfect prospect for the Blues. Not only does he have the potential to be a solid offensive defenseman, but he is young enough to not worry about NHL playing time and focus on making his game better. Playing with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Vannelli put up an impressive 14 goals and 27 assists in 60 regular season games played from the blue line. He should stay at the junior level for the foreseeable future.
6. Joel Edmundson, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 46th overall, 2011
Edmundson is enjoying a solid rookie campaign with the Wolves and has demonstrated effective defensive skills throughout the season. His four goals and four assists may not be a great showing offensively, but he is regarded more as a defensive-minded player who can perform at both ends of the ice. If he can pick up the offensive slack and stand out as an AHL player, there is a chance we could see Edmundson make his NHL debut in the near future. For now, he will remain with the Wolves as he becomes a more reliable two-way player.
7. Jordan Schmaltz, D, 7.0C
Drafted 1st round, 25th overall, 2012
Schmaltz had a pretty good rookie campaign but has really taken off as a sophomore. This season, Schmaltz has scored six goals and 17 assists in 38 games. While his offensive and power play skills are well on their way, his defensive abilities are still a work in progress and he will need to become a more all-around player as he makes his way to the professional level.
8. Jani Hakanpaa, D, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 104th overall, 2010
Hakanpaa has been a bit of a late bloomer as a North American player but is gaining a step this season. He has played in 43 games this season and has scored three goals and three assists with a plus-15 rating. He is an absolute giant on the ice, standing 6’4 and weighing 218 pounds, but can skate quite well for his size. However, his offensive capabilities and skating are two areas he could improve on to become a better player.
9. Colton Parayko, D, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 86th overall, 2012
Parayko finds himself in the top 10 after starting the season at 16th on our list. As a rookie he put up solid numbers in 2012-13, but as a sophomore, he has really proven his abilities. He has played in 37 games this year, scoring seven goals and 19 assists. With regards to improvement, his skating needs extra attention as he makes his way to the professional level. Nevertheless, Parayko still has two more seasons of college hockey to make the necessary changes in his game.
10. Petteri Lindbohm, D, 6.5C
Drafted 6th round, 176th overall, 2012
With so many prospects either graduating or getting moved, players like Lindbohm will get a boost due to his experience and potential. This year, Lindbohm started the season with Assat Pori and played 19 games. He managed one goal and four assists in those games but maintained a plus-3 rating. After getting back to Jokerit this season, Lindbohm has scored just one assist in 18 games but has shown his defensive capabilities. He still has one more year left on his contract with Jokerit Helsinki so it will be interesting to see if he makes his way to North America for the following season.
As the article notes, we have a lot of depth at the goaltender position. Maybe we really DO just drop Miller and go with Elliott/Allen next season and the farm system step up/cheap free agents from there...