2018-19 Farm System Report: St. Louis Blues
Despite clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in six of their past seven seasons, the St. Louis Blues have failed to ascend above the third round. Although a perennial powerhouse in the Central Division, a lack of scoring depth and consistent goaltending in past years has mired the Blues’ playoff aspirations.
However, despite these setbacks, St. Louis continues to boast a strong and deep roster capable of competing within their endlessly competitive division. Led by the arrival of Ryan O’Reilly and paced by superstar sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues feature a roster which is seemingly strong at each and every position of the ice.
Fortunately for St. Louis, the organization owns a number of promising young prospects who should strengthen the Blues’ torrent play in the seasons ahead. Although lacking an elite prospect per se, the franchise features a handful of dynamic forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders of legitimate NHL potential.
Stanley Cups: None
2017-18 Record: 44-32-6; 94 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Brayden Schenn; 28G, 42A, 70PTS
Farm System Grade: B+
Top 10 Prospects:
- Robert Thomas
- Ville Husso
- Dominik Bokk
- Klim Kostin
- Scott Perunovich
- Sammy Blais
- Jordan Kyrou
- Jordan Schmaltz
- Jake Walman
- Nolan Stevens
The State of the Blues’ Farm System
Depth is the name of the game for St. Louis, who feature a bounty of quality prospects developing at each position of the ice.
Leading the charge offensively for the Blues in the years ahead will surely be Robert Thomas and Dominik Bokk, two former first round draft choices of St. Louis whose developments have been not only steady but significant of late.
In Thomas, the Blues boast a hard-working and extremely competitive centre known for his stellar two-way play. A former star with the London Knights and Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, Thomas is a natural leader capable of influencing change at both ends of the ice. Offensively, Thomas is a creative playmaker who loves to distribute the puck to his teammates. In the defensive zone, Thomas plays a responsible role and is sound in the face-off circle as well.
Given his ability to play a sound, professional-style of game, don’t be surprised if Thomas earns significant minutes for the Blues in his rookie NHL campaign. Although his skating requires work, St. Louis could have yet another top-six forward to be on their hands.
Moreover, the Blues gloat Bokk.
The team’s first round choice in the 2018 NHL Draft, Bokk is an immensely skilled winger who loves to challenge his defenders one-on-one and on the rush. Known for his strong shot, Bokk can blast the puck on-goal or meander through his opposition en route to generating a high-percentage scoring opportunity. Skating for the Vaxjo Lakers HC of the SHL this season, Bokk will be afforded with ample playing time against stern competition to improve his craft.
Mix in the likes of Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou, and the Blues boast immense offensive depth within their prospect pool.
On defence and in-goal, St. Louis is equally saturated with promising young talent.
Set to man the Blues’ blue line in the future are defenders such as Scott Perunovich, Jordan Schmaltz, and Jake Walman. In Perunovich and Schmaltz, St. Louis features two offensive-minded defencemen who can join the rush as well as defend their own zone with relative consistency. Further, in Walman, the Blues own a well-rounded defender who can contribute to the play at both ends of the ice despite focusing largely on his defensive play.
Then, in-goal, St. Louis holds an intriguing goaltending prospect by the name of Ville Husso. Despite a slow start to his 2018-19 campaign with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Husso has enjoyed substantial success since his arrival in North America from Finland and could push to become the Blues’ goaltender of the future in the years ahead.
Although we will not cover all of St. Louis’ prospects extensively for the sake of time, it remains abundantly clear that the Blues boast a strong, deep, and highly skilled prospect pool potentially capable of sustaining the franchise’s success for years to come.
One Blues Prospect to Watch
Of all of St. Louis’ prospects, perhaps none of which will be more intriguing to watch develop than Perunovich.
Although eligible for both the 2016 and 2017 NHL Draft, Perunovich was not chosen by an NHL organization despite displaying lethal offensive play from the blue line and a willingness to play a sound 200-foot game. So, when the native of Hibbing, Minnesota entered into his first season of NCAA play with the University of Minnesota-Duluth this past season, it is safe to say that Perunovich felt the need to prove himself as a legitimate NHL prospect.
And prove himself is exactly what Perunovich did, as the youngster blasted home 11 goals while recording 36 points in his 42 games played as a freshman — an output which led to his second-round selection by the Blues. In doing so, Perunovich not only certified his standing as an elite young player and excellent NHL prospect but earned the Tim Taylor Award as the NCAA’s Rookie of the Year as a direct result.
Destined for the University of Minnesota-Duluth this season, Perunovich must now prove that his outstanding campaign last season was not a fluke. However, given his stellar skating, tantalizing skill, and impressive confidence and creativity with the puck, expect Perunovich to be nothing short of sensational in his sophomore campaign with the Bulldogs.