Offseason top 15 prospect rankings and profiles

#15: Austin Poganski, RW

Drafted: 2014 Round 4, pick 110

Age: 22

Height/Weight: 6’2/209 lbs

2017-18 team: North Dakota (NCAA D1)

The captain of North Dakota continued to improve this season. Poganski was named to the NCAA Senior Class All Americans 2nd team in 2017-18. His offensive numbers took a slight dip this season at North Dakota, but his defensive game still looked strong. Poganski is a two-way/power forward. He has a solid frame of 6’2, 209 and he isn’t afraid to throw it around on the ice. His game should transition well to the AHL this season and we even got a glimpse of that last season. After Poganski signed, he tallied 2 points in 4 games for San Antonio at the end of last season. That’s something to build off of for this upcoming season.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: Top 9-12 winger

My NHL comparison: Cal Clutterbuck

#14: Niko Mikkola, D

Drafted: 2015, Round 5, pick 127

Age: 22

Height/Weight: 6’5/ 200 lbs

2017-18 team: Tappara (Liiga/Finnish Elite)

Niko Mikkola is an interesting prospect. He always flashes come prospect camp every summer, and this year was in my opinion, his best year ever in Liiga. Tappara came up short in the finals, however Mikkola led the postseason in plus/minus with a +9. Mikkola is a fast, stay at home defenseman. He is one of the top 3 best skaters in the prospect pool, in my opinion. His offensive game will continue to improve, but his defensive game is already sound. Mikkola is a perfect player for Drew Bannister to develop in San Antonio. Big things are coming for Niko in his first season in North America.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: 4-7 defenseman

My NHL comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

#13: David Noel, D

Drafted: 2017 Round 5, pick 130

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6’1/172 lbs

2017-18 team: Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

David Noel just seems to keep flying under the radar. He’s such a solid defenseman in the QMJHL on both sides of the puck. He has a precise shot from the point and can create on the rush and in the offensive zone. I believe he could eventually quarterback a power play very well. Last season, Noel produced 46 points in 68 games. Going into his last season in Juniors, I’m expecting a huge year for the Val-d’Or defenseman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Noel in the top 8 come my mid-season prospect rankings.

2018-19 projection: QMJHL, Val-d’Or Foreurs

Future potential: 5-7 defenseman

My NHL comparison: Alec Martinez

#12: Tanner Kaspick, C/W

Drafted: 2016 Round 4, pick 119

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6’1/205 lbs

2017-18 team: Victoria Royals (WHL)

Tanner Kaspick is a wildcard. This is an important rookie season in the AHL for him. He can either be Sammy Blais, or he can be Adam Musil. It’s up to him to decide that, but I do believe he’ll make the most of the opportunity. Kaspick is an aggressive forward that both score and create opportunities. At 6’1, 205, he’s built to transition well to the AHL. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bannister uses Kaspick on the 3rd or 4th line to start the season, but it should be all sink or swim from there for Kaspick. I believe he’ll have a good rookie season in the AHL. I’m expecting around 20-35 points, depending on health and ice time.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: Top 9-12 center/winger

My NHL comparison: Trevor Lewis

#11: Mitch Reinke, D

Drafted: N/A, signed as a college free agent

Age: 22

Height/Weight: 5’11/181 lbs

2017-18 team: Michigan Tech (NCAA D1)

Mitch Reinke was signed late last season as a college free agent and actually played in his NHL debut last season. Reinke is an offensive defenseman that can make a great first pass out of the zone, something that is now vital in today’s NHL. He’s a great skater and can quarterback a power play. He tallied 44 points in 76 games played for Michigan Tech over the past two seasons. I’m interested to see how he can convert to the AHL this season, even though I believe he’ll look great on the ice and on the scoresheets.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: 5-7 defenseman

My NHL comparison: Ryan Ellis

#10: Alexey Toropchenko, RW

Drafted: 2017 Round 4, pick 113

Age: 18

Height/Weight: 6’3/187 lbs

2017-18 team: Guelph Storm (OHL)

Alexey Toropchenko was a hidden gem in the 2017 NHL draft and Bill Armstrong seemed to know that. Toropchenko is a tall, speedy Russian winger. His rookie season in the OHL was a success after scoring 17 goals, 22 assists, and 39 points in 66 games, all while adjusting to the North American game. I highly recommend watching him at prospect and training camps this summer. I’m expecting a huge season from him in the OHL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the Russian roster for World Juniors this season.

2018-19 projection: OHL, Guelph Storm

Future potential: Top 9 winger

My NHL comparison: Mikkel Boedker

#9: Erik Foley, LW

Drafted: 2015 Round 3, pick 78 (via WPG)

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6’0/187 lbs

2017-18 team: Providence (NCAA D1)

Erik Foley was apart of the package that the Blues received from Winnipeg for Paul Stastny. Foley is known to play a gritty, offensive game. He has produced at about a point per game rate over the past two seasons for Providence College. Before Foley signed with the Blues last season, he was injured in his final NCAA game so he wasn’t able to play in the AHL at the end of the season. I’m excited to see what he can bring to the Rampage this season. His style of play will really stand out in the AHL so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him tearing it up at some point this season. Doug Armstrong received a fantastic return for the current UFA, Paul Stastny.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: Top 6-9 winger

My NHL comparison: Brendan Gallagher

#8: Nolan Stevens, C

Drafted: 2016 Round 5, pick 125

Age: 21

Height/Weight: 6’3/187 lbs

2017-18 team: Northeastern (NCAA D1)

The Northeastern captain put on a show night in, night out in the NCAA this season. Highlight real plays after plays, leading the nation in goals at multiple times this season, and helping his linemate win the Hobey Baker award, Nolan Stevens turned plenty of heads this season. I knew Stevens could produce, over the last 3 seasons in the NCAA he has produced at over a point per game rate. What really opened my eye this season was his pure offensive explosion and instincts that lead to insane goals. Stevens played on the best line in the nation this season, and he was a huge reason why. Besides Robert Thomas, Nolan Stevens is the best two-way forward in the prospect pool. If he can continue to improve his game, we could potentially see Thomas and Stevens down the middle for years to come.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: 2nd-4th line center

My NHL comparison: Nick Bonino (with more offense)

#7: Evan Fitzpatrick, G

Drafted: 2016 Round 2, pick 59

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6’3/205 lbs

2017-18 team: Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

Fitzpatrick was held out to dry from his teammates in Sherbrooke. Scouts and other prospect experts never understood why a 59th overall pick couldn’t get up to a .900 save percentage in the OHL for 3 straight seasons, until Fitzpatrick was traded mid season to Acadie-Bathurst. Once he made the transition, Evan Fitzpatrick was arguable the best goalie in the entire CHL not named Carter Hart. Fitzpatrick had a 2.24 goals against average and a 9.15 save percentage in 21 regular season games with Titan. Once the playoffs began, Fitzpatrick was nearly unstoppable, having a 2.10 goals against average and a .925 save percentage on his way to winning the Memorial Cup. Fitzpatrick is one of the wildcards heading into training camp. We saw what he can do with a good team around him, so maybe it was an illusion after all these years and Fitzpatrick might actually be better than Husso at the moment.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: Starting goaltender

My NHL comparison: Martin Jones

#6: Jake Walman, D

Drafted: 2014 Round 3, pick 82

Age: 22

Height/Weight: 6’1/201 lbs

2017-18 team: Binghamton Devils (AHL)

Jake Walman had a tough season in his rookie AHL campaign. Not from a numbers standpoint, but the fact that he had to play for two different teams throughout the season due to the Blues AHL situation (thank god that’s over). Walman produced 29 points in 59 games played last season. I’m excited to see his production this upcoming season, I believe he’ll be able to really put it all together with players he’s familiar with in San Antonio.

2018-19 projection: AHL, San Antonio Rampage

Future potential: 3-5 Defenseman

My NHL comparison: Dan Hamhuis

#5 Villa Husso, G

Drafted: 2014 Round 4, pick 94

Age: 23

Height/Weight: 6’3/205 lbs

2017-18 team: San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

Ville Husso was apart of the first draft class that I ever dissected 4 years ago. I’m very familiar with him, and still have the same projection of him now, as I did 4 years ago after the draft. Husso is a fundamentally sound goaltender that doesn’t often give up soft goals. Husso went on a year at the end of the season and I believe he’ll carry that into the offseason and ultimately be the reason the Blues don’t re-sign unrestricted free agent, Carter Hutton.

2018-19 projection: NHL, St. Louis Blues

Future potential: Starting Goaltender

My NHL comparison: Tukka Rask

#4 Tage Thompson, C/W

Drafted: 2016 Round 1, pick 26

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6’5/201 lbs

2017-18 team: Blues/Rampage (NHL/AHL)

Tage Thompson saw a slight glimpse of the NHL this year and while he had some flashes, nothing was really spectacular from him. His skating actually impressed me this season. It was one of his weaknesses going into the season, but he showed plenty of exploding drives to the net and other examples as well. His long stride and smooth hands are only going to improve. His shot was one thing I thought he would showcase the best this season, however, that wasn’t the case. It’s an easy thing to improve and I believe we’ll see that this upcoming season. The one thing that stood out to me this year was that it looked like Thompson was playing as a mindset of a center, just in a wingers body. What I’m really trying to say is that I’m not 100% sold Thompson will become a center at the NHL level. He never really flashed in the middle of the ice, it was always on the boards and driving the net. Something to keep an eye on come training camp, but this will be a very important year for Tage.

2018-19 projection: AHL/NHL, TBD

Future potential: Top 6 winger

My NHL comparison: Chris Kreider

#3 Klim Kostin, C/RW

Drafted: 2017 Round 1, pick 31

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6’3/212 lbs

2017-18 team: San Antonio Rampage (AHL)

For those that have been following me since last year’s NHL draft, you should know by now how high I am on Klim. In 2015-16, a year before he was draft eligible, Kostin was projected to be a top 5 pick in the 2017 NHL draft. However, a shoulder injury sidelined him for the majority of the season and that scared some scouts away, enough so that he fell into the Blues’ lap at #31 overall in 2017. It is always hard to judge a teenager in his rookie season in the AHL. Kostin had to adjust to the North American game quickly, and in the beginning of the year he struggled. During the end of the season, Kostin seemed to figure it out little better. Kostin’s 28 points in 67 AHL games is nothing that jumps off the paper, but Kostin absolutely dominated every shift when he played in the World Juniors this season. He produced 5 goals, 3 assists, and 8 points in 5 games. So against his own age group, he dominated, but against grizzled veterans, he produced at an average rate. That is why it is so hard to dissect an AHL rookie. His shot and frame is a deadly combination. I’ve said it once, and I’ll continue to say it again, Klim Kostin is going to score a ton of goals in the NHL.

2018-19 projection: AHL/NHL, TBD

Future potential: Top 6 winger

My NHL comparison: Alexander Semin

#2: Jordan Kyrou, C/RW

Drafted: 2016 Round 2, pick 35

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6’0/175 lbs

2017-18 team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Jordan Kyrou seemed to be on fire all season long. His 39 goals, 70 assists, and 109 points earned him player of the year in the OHL this season. His offensive game is no secret, the question remains if he will be able to transition his production to the NHL. Over his past 122 games played, Kyrou has 69 goals, 134 assists, and 203 points. He even produced at the World Junior Championships over the winter after producing 10 points in 7 games. Kyrou’s skating is one of his best assets, his agility somewhat reminds me of Jaden Schwartz. His offensive awareness is off the charts, however, he still needs to improve his defensive game.

2018-19 projection: NHL/AHL, TBD

Future potential: Top 6 winger

My NHL comparison: Tyler Johnson

#1: Robert Thomas, C

Drafted: 2017 Round 1, pick 20

Age: 18

Height/Weight: 6’0/192 lbs

2017-18 team: Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

Robert Thomas has all of the tools to become a number one center in the NHL. His hockey IQ, defensive awareness, and vision of the ice is already pro-ready. Thomas is coming off of his career year in the OHL, even after being traded mid-season. Totaling 24 goals, 51 assists, and 75 points in 49 games played in the regular season. Thomas also had a stellar playoff and was named playoff MVP of the OHL after scoring 12 goals, 20 assists, and 32 points in 21 total playoff games. His ability to make his teammates better on the ice is one of the few traits that make him stand out from the other prospects in the organization. He’s going to be a player that a coach can depend on in all three zones of the ice and has the ability to explode and create scoring chances.

2018-19 projection: NHL, St. Louis Blues

Future potential: 1st line center

My NHL comparison: Claude Giroux

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