St. Louis Blues Prospects: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


Samuel Blais, F, Victoriaville Tigres (WHL)- Blais, the Blues’ sixth-rounder in 2014, really came onto the scene with Victoriaville last season and has continued to produce at a high level so far during 2015-16. The 19-year-old leads the Tigres with 26 points (nine goals and 17 assists) over the first 17 games of this season. The 6-foot-1, 181-pounder isn’t a premium prospect, and his odds of ever being an NHL player are still very up in the air, but he’s continuing to make a strong impression at the junior level.

Pat Cannone, F, Chicago Wolves (AHL)- Cannone, who is in his third season with the Blues organization, is continuing to make a case as a potential injury replacement if the NHL club gets any more banged up than it already is. Despite his status as a former undrafted free agent and his lack of size (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), Cannone has done his best to be productive at Chicago, scoring five goals with seven assists and a plus-12 rating. He’s also leading the team in shooting percentage, as he’s converted on an impressive 41.7 percent of his shots. The 29-year-old is obviously a valued presence in the dressing room, as he was selected as the Wolves’ captain this year, so we’ll see if he can create enough traction to earn his first NHL call-up later this season.

Danny Kristo, F, Chicago Wolves (AHL)- Kristo, a former second-rounder who is still just 25 years old but is in the odd position of having already played for three organizations during his career (the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and now the Blues) is doing his best to reassert himself as a future NHL contributor this year. Through nine games, he has five goals and six assists with a plus-10 rating, and two of those goals have been overtime game-winners which have come in the past two games. The 6-foot, 188-pounder is obviously going to struggle to earn a promotion to the NHL, since the Blues have recently given chances to players like Ty Rattie and Martin Havlat, who play similar styles to Kristo, rather than just giving the 25-year-old a chance. If injuries continue to plague the Blues or if someone on the NHL roster begins to severely underperform, though, maybe Kristo will get a chance.

Mackenzie MacEachern, F, Michigan State University (NCAA)- The American college game is much more similar to the style played in the NHL than the offensively-charged variation of the game played in major junior. With that in mind, 2012 third-rounder Mackenzie MacEachern is doing very well for himself to have four goals and five assists through eight games, and he’s in position to significantly exceed his career highs of 11 goals and 15 assists that were set through 35 games last season. MacEachern is somewhat off the radar because of his status as a college player, but if he keeps putting up points at the rate he is so far this season, he’ll quickly spark the interest of the front office.

Zach Pochiro, F, Quad City Mallards (ECHL)- In two separate stints with the Wolves, the Blues’ top minor-league club, Pochiro has failed to earn any playing time, but when he’s gone down to the ECHL to keep fresh, he’s dominated. In eight games with the Mallards, the 21-year-old Pochiro has four goals and four assists

Pochiro, a St. Louis native and a 2013 fourth-rounder, is in his first full professional season after spending much of the past three seasons with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. Considering the performance that he delivered at the prospect tournament in Traverse City and during the Blues’ training camp, he probably deserves to be getting AHL minutes right now, but he’s held back at the moment by the collection of independent forwards that the Wolves are deploying on a nightly basis. The situation isn’t going to get much easier for Pochiro unless the Wolves suffer a wave of injuries, as the Blues will have to subtract three forwards when Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, and Jaden Schwartz eventually return, but right now he’s doing everything he can to force himself into professional hockey’s premier minor league.

Vince Dunn, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)- Dunn, the Blues’ second-rounder (and first pick) in this year’s draft, is off to a very good start in his third junior season. He’s second only to former New York Islanders first-rounder Josh Ho-Sang in points for the IceDogs, as he has six goals and 11 assists through 17 games. The 19-year-old defenseman has a plus-7 rating along with 14 penalty minutes. Dunn made a very strong impression on head coach Ken Hitchcock this training camp (which may not make a difference, since it’s difficult to see Hitchcock coaching more than a few more years with the Blues, anyway), but regardless, he seems to have a bright future within the organization.

Jake Walman, D, Providence University (NCAA)- Walman, a 6-foot-1, 193-pound defenseman who was taken in the third round of last year’s draft, has arguably been the Blues’ most prolific prospect so far this season and is really making a name for himself. Despite the fact that he’s a defenseman, the 19-year-old Walman leads Providence in points through seven games with seven goals and five assists. He’s got a plus-9 rating and is also tied for the team lead in penalty minutes with 10.  Walman’s in a tough position in terms of positioning himself for an NHL spot any time soon, since the Blues have Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Kevin Shattenkirk signed long-term, 22-year-olds Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson, and Petteri Lindbohm all capable of contributing at the NHL level right now, and other premium prospects like Jordan Schmaltz, Tommy Vannelli, and Vince Dunn on the horizon. Perhaps Walman can make himself an intriguing trade chip if he continues performing at such a high level.

Pheonix Copley, G, Chicago Wolves (AHL)- Though he’s evenly split goaltending duties with fellow prospect Jordan Binnington thus far, the 23-year-old Copley has arguably been the Wolves’ MVP thus far. Since allowing seven goals on 30 shots in his Blues organization debut on October 16, Copley has been on fire, collecting two straight shutouts following his initial loss, along with a three-game win streak that is still alive as things stand now.

Even with that terrible first start, Copley has a 2.49 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. If he maintains this high level of play, he’ll create trust as a fill-in option in the NHL in the event that Brian Elliott or Jake Allen should go down.

Ville Husso, G, HIFK Helsinki (SM-Liiga)- Husso, a 20-year-old Finnish net minder who was a fourth-rounder in last year’s draft, has put together a great performance so far this season. Through 13 games, Husso has a 8-1-4 record (they still have ties in Finland) with a 1.67 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage, and one shutout. Husso, who’s playing his third year in SM-Liiga, is still unsigned by the Blues and has an uncertain future within the organization due to the presence of other goalie prospects like Pheonix Copley, Jordan Binnington, and Luke Opilka. But Husso appears to have interest in coming over to America at some point, seeing as he attended the Blues’ prospect camp this summer, so it should be interesting to see what the organization decides to do when it comes time to make a choice on which goalie prospect(s) to roll forward with.

Luke Opilka, G, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)- Opilka, the 18-year-old St. Louis native who was a fifth-round selection in this year’s draft, is off to a great start in his first major junior season with the Kitchener Rangers. Through 13 games, Opilka is 10-1-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage, and a shutout to his record. With the strong performance he’s delivered thus far, Opilka looks to be on the fast track to becoming a valued goalie prospect within the Blues’ system.

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