St. Louis Blues prospects making the most of NHL opportunity this season

By Suraj Sukumar
Joel Edmundson - St. Louis Blues

Photo: St. Louis Blues prospect Joel Edmundson has been an understated stabilizing presence in the lineup this season (courtesy of Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

The St. Louis Blues have had a few prospects at the NHL level due to their injuries woes this season. With significant time missed by Jake Allen, Patrik Berglund, Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz, the Blues have turned to some younger players. While some made the most of their limited opportunities, others have been impressing since the very start of the season. Colton Parayko has been the big story out of St. Louis this season and Joel Edmundson has been a welcomed addition to their defensive group.

When healthy Robby Fabbri has been a very impressive player at the NHL level and looks to be a mainstay moving forward. Many of the young forwards have developed good chemistry with some of the Blues’ veterans and the playoffs could be a great time for their development. Based on some of their performances, it will be interesting to see where they fall in the top 20 rankings next month.

Robby Fabbri, C, 20

In terms of consistency, Fabbri has been a reliable offensive player and has held his own on defense. With 21 points on the season, he has been productive in limited spots, seeing only around 13 minutes a night and little power play time. Ken Hitchcock, unsurprisingly, has deployed Fabbri in the offensive zone when possible and is easing the youngster into more intense competition. That Fabbri has locked down a roster spot is a credit to his tremendous upside. Fabbri proved his place as the Blues’ top forward prospect and should see graduation (the 65 game mark) by the end of this season.

Ty Rattie, RW, 23

After a solid proving stint in the AHL this season, Rattie made a splash in the NHL playing eleven games and scoring three goals with two assists in limited duty. Once again though, Rattie is back with the Chicago Wolves, reassigned just shy of his 23rd birthday. Rattie has been the go-to winger to make a few jumps to the NHL in 2015-16 but questions still remain if he has a permanent job on this squad next season. He plays a tenacious game with some skill, but still lacks the ideal size to be a grinder and his speed issues will keep him out of a top-six role.

Colton Parayko, D, 22

After a hot start to his NHL career with two goals in just his third game, Parayko has certainly cooled off in terms of offense, not having tallied a goal since December 19th. The rookie blueliner nonetheless has a respectable total of 19 points on the season, and a +17 rating also suggests he hasn’t given away much to the opposition either. Going deeper, Parayko has been perhaps the best Blues player this season at driving offense and suppressing shots against. The team relies heavily on Alex Pietrangelo of course, but Parayko’s ability to hold firm and generate shots from the second-pairing is excellent news for the team. The rookie has shown great maturity and patience, and with a well-developed physicality to his game already, looks to be a potential cornerstone player.

Joel Edmundson, D, 22

Speaking of surprises, Edmondson has been another pleasant one for the Blues after locking down a third pairing role. Similar to Parayko, Edmundson has good size for the NHL level but still maintains above average skating. He has an impressive shot that has gone underutilized thus far in his NHL career but has earned six assists. Although he plays a supporting role, he has skated over 20 minutes four times this season. Although he is certainly overshadowed by Parayko and the veterans, Edmundson’s strong defensive performance has helped the Blues earn points when their offense has struggled.

Jordan Binnington, G, 22

After an injury to Jake Allen, Binnington was called up from the AHL to back up Brian Elliott for the Blues. He never really got his feel at the NHL level with Elliot getting the starts. He played one game in relief prior to the All-Star break and looked overwhelmed. With the Blues’ long break, he was returned to the minors to get some action. Meanwhile Pheonix Copley was called up till Allen gets healthy but he has yet to appear in a game. Binnington should continue to split time with Copley in the AHL once Allen returns. With identical .905 save percentages for the Wolves, neither player has done much to jump ahead in the competition.

2016 World Junior Championships

The Blues had only two prospects  playing in the tournament but one of them was on the gold medal winning Finland team. 2015 fifth-round pick Niko Mikkola played in seven games for the Finnish team and ended with one assist and a +3 rating. The lanky blueliner, who is a first-year pro with KalPa Kuopio, was called upon to play a physical shutdown role on a somewhat undermanned and inexperienced defensive group.

Dmitrii Sergeev was selected by Team Russia and also played in seven games. Part of a blueline group for Russia that played a hard-hitting, conservative style, Sergeev did not register a point. His stingy and responsible play did help the Russians to win the silver medal. Unfortunately he has played just two games for the Kitchener Rangers since returning from the tournament, and remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Prospect of the Month

Jordan Schmaltz - St. Louis BluesThe Chicago Wolves have been fighting for a playoff spot and several Blues prospects have been contributing significantly. In January, Jordan Schmaltz had a very strong showing: scoring two goals and six assists with a +4 rating in 13 games. He is a dynamic offensive player and is slowly finding his footing at the professional level. Even given his top-end talent, Schmaltz will likely stay in the AHL to take on much more playing time and on-ice opportunities with the Wolves.