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Future Watch – St. Louis Blues: Slow Cooking

Being patient with prospects is paying off, as St. Louis’ system continues to serve up tasty talent.
Darren Abate

Darren Abate

B / 15th overall

In 2011, the St. Louis Blues made three separate trades, moving Eric Brewer, Brad Boyes and Brad Winchester for draft picks. Eight years later, the players taken with those picks – Joel Edmundson, Jordan Binnington and MacKenzie MacEachern – are contributors. The takeaway: player development takes time, especially in the case of rookies like Binnington (25) and MacEachern (24), and fans should be patient. “To plant a tree, you’ve got to have sunshine and water, and sometimes we don’t have all that available,” said Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong. “But then you see guys come in. They’re coming – it just takes patience.”

STL_Trend

1. Jordan Kyrou (18th overall)
RW, 20, 6-0, 177 – San Antonio (AHL)
40–15–25–40–10
2016 draft, 35th overall
The Blues need speed, and Kyrou possesses as much as anyone in the organization. Kyrou made the opening-night roster, but his role was limited, and he was assigned to AHL San Antonio. He’s had a couple call-ups, but his best work has been in the minors, where he had a 12-game point streak. In the NHL, he has not been hard enough on the puck. “It’s a big jump from being a good junior to a good pro,” Armstrong said. “He’s been dominant in the AHL, so he’s close.”
FW18| No. 2 - NHL | 2019-20

2. Dominik Bokk (40th overall)
LW, 20, 6-3, 180 – Vaxjo (Swe.)
43–7–14–21–8
2018 draft, 25th overall
The Blues moved up four spots in the draft to take Bokk, the German-born winger who plays in Sweden. He has been compared to Edmonton star and fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl. “He’s a thin body type who’s playing against men,” Armstrong said. “When the puck is on his stick, he makes something happen. He can make highlight-reel passes from anywhere. For his strength and learning to play in the small rink, he’ll have some adjustment time, but he has high-end ability.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2021-22

3. Klim Kostin (55th overall)
RW, 19, 6-3, 212 – San Antonio (AHL)
49–7–11–18–74
2017 draft, 31st overall
Kostin has been in the AHL for two years but is still only 19. His stats have been underwhelming, but his performance at the international level against peers is promising. “Klim is a big, powerful winger,” Armstrong said. “He’s changing rink sizes, and there’s a language barrier. But when he’s in the world juniors, you can see his game and how it translates. He’s a kid like Kyrou. They have to manage the game. But he’s got some raw qualities that he’s got to trim up to be an NHL player.”
FW18| No. 3 - NHL | 2019-20

4. Scott Perunovich (83rd overall)
D, 20, 5-10, 175 – Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC)
31–3–24–27–24
2018 draft, 45th overall
The undersized but skilled Perunovich doesn’t have the same cast that won a Frozen Four title in 2017-18, but he’s played well enough to consider turning pro after his sophomore season. “We fell in love with him in the sense he put his team on his back and got it done in the clutch situations,” Armstrong said. “He has the ability to move the puck, and he’s unique on the power play up top. He’s got a ways to go with the strength factor. But he’s put time in to improve his defensive side.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2021-22

5. Joel Hofer
G, 18, 6-3, 157 – Portland (WHL)
13–27–1, 3.76, .905
2018 draft, 107th overall
Hofer is an example of why the Blues don’t look at stats when evaluating goalie prospects. He had a GAA near 3.00 but owns a winning record with Portland after a trade from Swift Current. “He’s had a spectacular year because he’s getting 55 shots a game and was walking away with (a victory),” Armstrong said. “When we see goalies that steal games, if you can get one or two of them a year, that’s impressive. But this guy has had about five of them. He’s very raw, but his instincts are very good.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2023-24

6. Jake Walman
D, 23, 6-1, 202 – San Antonio (AHL)
52–1–8–9–40
2014 draft, 82nd overall
Known for his heavy shot. Has become more reliable in the defensive zone.

7. Ville Husso
G, 24, 6-2, 205 – San Antonio (AHL)
6–14–2, 3.45, .881
2014 draft, 94th overall
Rangy. Great puck tracker. Pivotal season in progression set back by high-ankle sprain.

8. Samuel Blais
RW, 22, 6-2, 205 – San Antonio (AHL)
26–8–10–18–55
2014 draft, 176th overall
Skilled forward who can hit is making more of an impact every call-up.

9. Alexei Toropchenko
RW, 19, 6-3, 200 – Guelph (OHL)
56–17–23–40–29
2017 draft, 113th overall
A long player who can skate well. Needs to bear down on scoring chances.

10. Niko Mikkola
D, 22, 6-4, 205 – San Antonio (AHL)
52–1–7–8–33
2015 draft, 127th overall
Defense-minded ‘D’ has shown a strong stick as he transitions to North America.

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