Photo: Finnish defenseman Santeri Saari set a new career-high in pro games in 2013-14, spending 25 matches with Kiekko-Vantaa in Finland’s second-tier Mestis (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues have benefited greatly from college players and have several notable prospects climbing the ranks.
Photo: Winger Dmitrij Jaskin is part of a new class of prospects skating with the Blues’ new AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves (courtesy of Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues minor league team suffered drastically from a shortage of high-end talent last season. On the blue line, the Peoria Rivermen, lacked significant offensive production, putting immense pressure on the forwards.
Photo: Derek Stepan (left) and Michael Del Zotto (right) have been key contributors to the New York Rangers. Both skaters were selected in the 2008 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Will Schneekloth/Icon SMI)
In the most successful draft in recent memory, the New York Rangers selected seven players in 2008, including four who are currently playing in the NHL. Two of the four NHL skaters are key players in New York. Of the five 2008 draftees who are no longer with the organization, the Rangers got value in return for two.
Photo: Defenseman Mark Cundari, signed as a free agent by the Blues in 2010, ranks fourth overall on the Peoria Rivermen with 20 points this season. (courtesy of Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
With immense depth at the NHL, junior and European levels of hockey, it should come as no surprise that the St. Louis Blues are lacking offensively-dominant players at the AHL and ECHL levels. Jaden Schwartz has been called-up to the big club, while Vladimir Tarasenko has finally come over from Europe. As more talented prospects make their way to the big club, the AHL affiliate Peoria Rivermen has started to struggle as a result.
Photo: The St. Louis Blues addressed the blue line with their first pick in 2012, drafting dynamic defenseman Jordan Schmaltz with the 25th overall pick. (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The St. Louis Blues are one of few teams to have assets at every position. While the level of skill and potential role could be quite different between each player, the fact remains that the Blues have one of the best crop of players heading into the 48-game NHL season.