Prosser, a 28-year-old who has played in 126 NHL games, has spent the entirety of the past two seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. He’s the second established NHL defenseman that the Blues have gotten to agree to a two-way contract in the past week, as former Calgary Flames blueliner Chris Butler agreed to a similar deal last Wednesday. As of now, the Blues have nine defensemen in their organization with substantial experience at hockey’s highest level. The top seven spots are all but locked in already, so Butler and Prosser figure to be waiting as injury replacements for the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
These moves may be an indictment on the progress of 22-year-old Jani Hakanpaa and 21-year-old Joel Edmundson, two highly-regarded prospects who spent last season developing in Chicago. If after a full year of experience in the AHL, neither of them can be relied rank any higher than tenth on the organizational depth chart, they may have less potential than was previously thought to be the case.
The 26-year-old Welsh is also expected to start in the AHL. Welsh, who played 19 games last season for the Vancouver Canucks and had accumulated six games with the Carolina Hurricanes in the two previous seasons, appears to be part of an effort by the Blues to substantially increase their organizational depth at the center position. In addition to adding Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, and Joakim Lindstrom at the NHL level, the Blues have recently added two minor-leaguers with NHL experience in Benn Ferriero and John McCarthy. Clearly, management has shown that they don’t want to have to rely on inexperienced guys like Ty Rattie to step into starting roles if there’s a massive injury bug, as was the case late last season.