2017 Prospect Review

Ivan Barbashev: 
Center. 6’0 180. 21 years old. Shoots L. 2nd round, 33 overall in 2014.

2016-17 stats: AHL: 46GP, 19G, 18A, 37P, even +/-. NHL: 30GP, 5G, 7A, 12P, +5.

Strengths: Great vision on the ice. Skilled center with some size. Proven point producer leading up to his NHL career. Lots of playoff experience in his junior career and has played a lot on the international level.

Weaknesses: Still needs to work on his 2-way game. Can sometimes be found out of position. Faceoffs at the NHL level were low.

2016-17 grade: B+. Barbashev had a great season in the AHL and provided some needed energy and skill when be was called up to the Blues. Good improvement.

Future projection: 2nd line C

NHL comparison: Kyle Turris (OTT)

Barbashev’s 2016-17 stat graphic in the AHL. Prosepct-stats project him to become a 2nd line center.

Vince Dunn:

Defense. 6’0 185. 20 years old. Shoots L. 2nd round, 56 overall in 2015.

2016-17 stats: (AHL) 72GP, 13G, 32A, 45P, +15.

Strengths: Elite skater with fantastic acceleration, agility, and top speed. Can QB a 1st line powerplay. High hockey IQ.

Weaknesses: Can be a hot head at times. Not completely groomed in his own zone.

2016-17 grade: B+. I watched Dunn a lot this season and he transitioned to the AHL very well. Didn’t look like he missed a beat. Looked very fluid and smooth. Stood out more than any other defenseman on the team.

Future projection: top 4 defenseman.

NHL comparison: Brandon Montour (ANA), or if you want a more established player, Tyson Barrie (COL).

Prospect-stats.com projects Dunn to become a top pairing defenseman due to his rookie AHL season.

Jake Walman: 
Defense. 6’1 195. 21 years old. Shoots L. 3rd round, #82 overall in 2014.

2016-17 stats: NCAA: 39GP, 7G, 18A, 25P, +11. AHL: 7GP, 2G, 1A, 3P, +3.

Strengths: Very good 2-way defender. Has a great shot and isn’t affraid to rip it. Constantly makes a good first pass out of his zone. Great one-timer. Good potential.

Weaknesses: Streaky with his penalties. Raw defensively, however, looked improved with AHL coaching.

2016-17 grade: B+. Walman continues to improve offensively and impressed me with his simple transition from NCAA to AHL.

Future projection: top 4 defenseman

NHL comparison: Justin Faulk (CAR)

Here is Walman’s breakdown of his 7 AHL games. Prospect-stats projects him to become a 2nd pairing defenseman.

Samuel Blais:

Left wing. 6’1 181. 20 years old. Shoots L. 6th round, #176 overall in 2014.

2016-17 stats: (AHL) 75GP, 26G, 17A, 43P, +11. (Playoffs: 8P in 10GP)

Strengths: Very smart offensive player. Has great vision of the ice. Smooth hands and stride. Plays with lots of heart.

Weaknesses: Consistsntly getting better with the coaching and experience, however he can still be groomed defensively. Still believe he has potential to improve his top speed and footwork.

2016-17 grade: A. Blais had an expected slow start to his rookie AHL season, however once he figured it out, he became one of the Wolves most dangerous offensive players. To compare his rookie season, Blais recoded 26G and 43P in his rookie AHL season. Barbashev recorded 10G and 28P in his rookie season. Note: Blais played 10 more GP.

Future projection: Top 6/9 forward.
NHL comparison: Ondrej Palat (TBL)

Blais’ heat map (goals) in his last season of juniors 1 year ago.

Blais’ 2016-17 AHL stat graphic. Prospect-stats projects Blais to become a top 6 forward.

Tage Thompson:

Center. 6’5 200. 19 years old. Shoots R. 1st round, #26 overall in 2016.

2016-17 stats: NCAA: 34GP, 19G, 13A, 32P, -6. AHL: 16GP, 1G, 1A, 2P, +1. (playoffs: 3P in 10GP)

Strengths: Big, offensive center. Smooth hands with a rocket of a shot. Gets to the dirty areas on the ice and plays best when using his body protecting the puck and on the boards.

Weaknesses: Still raw. Needs to gain more muscle weight. A bit weak in his own zone, but again, coaching in AHL helped.

2016-17 grade: B. Dominated NCAA defenseman for the 2nd straight season. Like most forwards (See Blais and Barbashev), slow to transition from CHL/NCAA to AHL. Important summer for him as he could be battling with a few other prospects for a NHL roster spot in ’17-17.

Future projection: 2nd line C

NHL comparison: A taller, faster Jeff Carter (LAK)

Jordan Kyrou:
Center. 6’0 177. 19 years old. Shoots R. 2nd round, #35 overall in 2016.

2016-17 stats: (OHL) 66GP, 30G, 64A, 94P, +5.

Strengths: Elite skater, phenomenal speed, agility, and acceleration. High hockey IQ.

Weaknesses: Gets pushed around quite a bit. Weak on the boards. Not good or bad in his own zone, but improved coaching will help.

2016-17 grade: B+. Continues to improve offensively, however I worry about his size whenever he transitions to professional hockey. Listed at 6’0, but in person I’d say about 5’10. Didn’t get a chance to prove anything in the AHL due to the Wolves being in the heat of a playoff run. Really important season for him next year. Needs to continue getting bigger.

Future projection: Top 6/9 forward (I believe he’ll become a RW in the NHL)

NHL comparison: (If he stays at C) Tyler Johnson (TBL). (If he moves to W) Tyler Ennis (BUF)

Kyrou’s 2016-17 heat map (goals).

Adam Musil:

Center. 6’3 205. 20 years old. Shoots R. Round 4, #94 overall in 2015.

2016-17 stats: WHL: 56GP, 20G, 31A, 51P, +10 (Playoffs: 4P in 5GP). AHL: 2GP, 0P. (Playoffs: 5P in 6GP)

Strengths: Power skater. Plays with guts and heart. Great puck protecter. Smart 2-way center with size. Captain of his team.

Weaknesses: Still can improve playing down low in the offensive zone, especially with his size. Uses his body some, but can be more effective if he uses it more. Under average speed, can improve.

2016-17 grade: B+. Musil deserves a B+ because of his improved offensive play in the WHL and his very impressive transition to the AHL. Made in impact on the Wolves in the playoffs.

Future projection: Top 9 C

NHL comparison: Brandon Sutter (VAN)

Ville Husso:

Goalie. 6’1 182. 22 years old. Round 4, #94 overall in 2014.

2016-17 stats: AHL: 22GP, 2.37GAA, 0.920S%, 1SO. (Playoffs: 3.36GAA, 0.898S%) ECHL: 13GP, 3.23GAA, 0.910S%, 1SO.

Strengths: Quick reflexes. Above average puck skills. Very solid with his legs and shots down low.

Weaknesses: Stuggles tracking passes coming from behind the goal line. Needs to improve rebound control. Still raw but the skill is there.

2016-17 grade: C+. As some may know, I think very highly of Husso in the future, however, even after a stellar 2015-16 season in SM-liiga (Finland), Husso struggled at times in the AHL. He had some very impressive games, but his main problem was being unable to get into a true rhythm this season. Understandable do to the musical chairs of goaltenders in the AHL. He will bounce back next year and hopefully get the starting job with the Wolves next season.

Future projection: Starting NHL goalie

NHL comparison: Tuukka Rask (BOS)

Tanner Kaspick: 

Center. 6’1 205. 19 years old. Shoots L. Round 4, #119 overall in 2016.

2016-17 stats: (WHL) 49GP, 19G, 26A, 45P, +8.

Strengths: Offensive center. Accurate shot. Makes his linemates better. Good passer with high offensive awareness.

Weaknesses: Slow transition game. Needs to throw his body around more. Decent at protecting the puck but can be better.

2016-17 grade: B. Kaspick got out to a wicked hot start in scoring to open the season, however injuries derailed his points per game. He increased his point production by 14 points in 4 games less than he did last season. Potential is here.

Future projection: Top 9 C/W

NHL comparison: Calle Jarnkrok (NSH)


Mackenzie MacEachern:

Left wing. 6’2 195. 23 years old. Shoots L. 3rd round, #67 overall in 2012

2016-17 stats: (AHL) 55GP, 5G, 6A, 11P, +9 (playoffs: 3P in 10GP)

Strengths: Uses his body well on the boards and protecting the puck. Great forechecker. Good in his own end. Has good hands and sees the ice well. Good transition game.

Weaknesses: Acceleration and agility. Lack of playoff experience/lengthy seasons. Raw talent, however keeps getting better in all zones.

2016-17 grade: C+. Even though his work didn’t show up offten on the scoresheet, Mac had a good rookie season in the AHL. Had a slow start and transition to the AHL from the NCAA but adapted to his role and played a high energy game. One of the most interesting prospects for the Blues in my opinion, has potential to be a top 6 winger, but can become a versatile forward that can be moved up and down the lineup. Great guy off the ice.

Future projection: (Look above)

NHL comparison: Kevin Hayes (NYR)


Austin Poganski: 

Center/Right wing. 6’2 201. 21 years old. Shoots R. 4th overall, #110 overall in 2014.

2016-17 stats: (NCAA) 40GP, 12G, 13A, 25P, +6.

Strengths: Very good 2-way forward. Knows how to use his size down low. Good speed.

Weaknesses: Offensive skill (hands and shot) can be improved. Weak transition game.

2016-17 grade: B-. Poganski played well in his junior season at North Dakota. Getting top 6 ice time, and also played on the 1st line at times this season. Don’t let the low offensive numbers fool you, the NCAA is a tough, defensive game of hockey. Poganski is actually one of the more well rounded prospects that could hold his own in th NHL as soon as next season. Plays very good in his own zone and has been coached very well at UND. Like MacEachern, Poganski is tough to project due to his potential. They’re both types of players that could fit up and down the lineup.

Future projection: 3rd or 4th line that can plug and play up and down the lineup

NHL comparison: Jay Beagle (WSH)


Nikko Mikkola: 

Defense. 6’4 185. 21 years old. Shoots L. Round 5, #127 overall in 2015.

2016-17 stats: (SM-liiga) 56GP, 4G, 11A, 15P, +6. (Playoffs: 3P in 10GP)

Strengths: 2nd best skating prospect behind Vince Dunn. Great speed, agility, acceleration. Long stride. Active stick and feet. Improving offensive game.

Weaknesses: Underweight. Lack of hits. Unknown how his game will transition to the North American game.

2016-17 grade: B. Mikkola continues to fascinate me as a prospect. He increased his offensive numbers this season, as well as his ice time. You know what you get with Mikkola; a tall, fast, defensive defenseman (however improving into a 2-way defenseman). Really hope he makes the jump to North Americs soon, however, the AHL situation is a hot mess for the Blues right now, probably meaning atleast one more season in Finland for Mikkola.

Future projection: Top 6 defenseman/ 7th defenseman

NHL comparison: A poor man’s Jay Bouwmeester

Mikkola’s 2016-17 heat map (shot attempts)


Tommy Vannelli: 

Defense. 6’2 181. 22 years old. Shoots R. 2nd round, #47 overall in 2013.

2016-17 stats: (ECHL) 46GP, 1G, 18A, 19P, -1.

Strengths: Good skater. Above average offensive hockey IQ. Puck mover.

Weaknesses: Weak defender. Injury prone. Needs to improve his 1st pass and shot.
2016-17 grade: D. The former 2nd rounder just can’t seem to put it all together just yet. Struggling to find time in the AHL, Vannelli played decent in the ECHL. It’s been a disappointing last 2 seasons but hopefully the once projected top 4 defenseman can turn it around.

Future projection: AHL defenseman

NHL comparison: N/A


Evan Fitzpatrick:

Goalie. 6’3 205. 19 years old. 2nd round, #59 overall in 2016.

2016-17 stats: (QMJHL) 49GP, 3.46GAA, 0.899S%, 1SO.

Strengths: Good rebound control. Plays aggressive on his angles.

Weaknesses: Needs to work on his reflexes. Can be slow at times. Has trouble tracking pucks through screens.

2016-17 grade: C-. Statistically, Fitz had a down year, yes, however, his team (specifically defense) were pretty bad. He didn’t get much help all year long. Only reading into that to a degree, though. He was capable of playing better. Fitzpatrick is young and has potential to be a starting goalie in the NHL.

Future projection: 1B starting 

goalie/backup goalie

NHL comparison: Michal Neuvirth (PHI)


Nolan Stevens:

Center/Left wing. 6’3 185. 20 years old. Shoots L. 5th round, #125 overall in 2016.

2016-17 stats: 17GP, 10G, 12A, 22P, +13.

Strengths: Hard working player with a lot of heart. Plays a very gritty, energetic style. Well rounded prospect, that like Poganski, is one of the better NHL ready prospects. Leader; captain of his school.

Weaknesses: Underweight. Can improve his shot, despite the goals he’s produced. Improving speed, however it still needs work.

2016-17 grade: B+. Stevens would have arguably been the story of the season for the blues prospects if he wouldn’t have missed time. Really excited to see what he can do at Northeastern next season in the tough Hockey East. Recently named captain of his team. Wasn’t able to watch him as much as other prospects this season due to him missing time (only watched 4 games), but Stevens arguably has the best all around 2 way game out of the Blues prospects. Really could be a diamond in the rough here, don’t know how he slipped to the 5th round. Easily a 2nd round talent. Keep your eye on Stevens in 2018.

Future projection: 2nd or 3rd line C

NHL comparison: Frans Nielsen


Luke Opilka: 

Goalie. 6’2 189. 20 years old. 5th round, #146 overall in 2015.

2016-17 stats: (OHL) 31GP, 3.58GAA, 0.889S%. (Playoffs: 5GP, 4.96GAA, 0.899S%)

Strengths: Quick glove. Good positioning and angles. Decent puck skills.

Weaknesses: Needs to work on rebound control. Prone to sometimes letting in a weak goal.

2016-17 grade: C. Like Fitzpatrick, you can only look into Opilka’s numbers to a degree due to his team (and defense) not playing well in front of him. Expected more of him due to his impressive rookie season in the OHL. Excited to see what adjustments he makes for next season. His potential ranges from a 1b in a starting NHL tandem, to an AHL starter.

Future projection: Look above

NHL comparison: N/A


Jordan Schmaltz:

Defense. 6’2 190. 23 years old. Shoots R. 1st round, #25 overall in 2012.

2016-17 stats: AHL: 42GP, 3G, 22A, 25P, +4. (Playoffs: 5P in 8GP) NHL: 2P in 9GP

Strengths: Solid 2 way defenseman. Makes good 1st passes. Smooth skater with good hockey sense.

Weaknesses: Still a bit underweight. Needs to play the body more.

2016-17 grade: B+. Schmaltz really improved shift by shift this season, no matter what league he was playing in. Played on the Wolves top pairing for most of the season and in the playoffs. Proved be can hold his own in the NHL and didn’t make any mistakes. No question Schmaltz is ready for the NHL, but the question remains will the Blues be able to find ice time for the former 1st rounder? Blues will have a log jam of NHL ready defenseman in 2018 including Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Parayko, Edmundson, Bortuzzo, Gunnarsson, Schmaltz, Dunn, and Walman.

Future projection: Top 4 defenseman

NHL comparison: Andrej Sekera

Schmaltz’s 2016-17 stat graphic. Prospect-stats projects Schmaltz to become a 2nd pairing defenseman.


Notable prospects not listed: F Conner Bleackley, F Filip Helt, D Petteri Lindbohm, G Jordan Binnington. These prospects were not listed either due to us having a good idea of what they’ll become/what they are, or due to lack of production due to rookie CHL seasons.

Prospects also not listed: F Glenn Gawdin and F Liam Dunda. These prospects were not listed because they are currently not signed by the Blues and if they don’t sign within 3 days, the Blues will lose their rights.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my 2016-17 prospect review. ***Please tweet me your comments, thoughts, and opinions on prospects.*** Follow me on Twitter @Palazzola_RTN and follow RTN @RespectTheNote.

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