Photo: Vladimir Tarasenko maintains his place atop the St. Louis Blues prospect pool heading into the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues have had continuous success in the NHL Draft. Finding franchise cornerstones like Alex Pietrangelo, Jake Allen, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko has been huge for a team that usually finds itself drafting outside the top-10 picks.
Photo: Jaden Schwartz, selected 14th overall in 2010, skated in 45 regular season and six playoff games for the St. Louis Blues in 2012-13 (courtesy of Keith Gillett/Icon SMI)
Prior to the trade deadline, the St. Louis Blues tried to acquire enough talent to make a push for the Stanley Cup. While the additions of Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold helped solidify the depth and experience of their blue line, they were unsuccessful in making a run for a championship and lost both young talent and draft picks in the process. In the Bouwmeester deal, the Blues gave up Mark Cundari, Reto Berra, and a conditional first round draft pick, which would be exercised if the Blues made the playoffs. The Blues did make the playoffs and were forced to give up their 2013 first round draft pick to the Calgary Flames.
Photo: Rookie winger Jaden Schwartz played a prominent role in Peoria during the NHL lockout, but since the start of the Blues season, he has skated in a bottom-six role in St. Louis (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
The St. Louis Blues have found a way to be successful at the NHL level and still maintain a very deep prospect pool. With draft selections primarily out of the top ten picks, the Blues have drafted extremely well to maintain a talented group of players at all positions.
Photo: Montreal Canadiens' rookies Alex Galchenyuk (L) and Brendan Gallagher (R) have played a major role in the Canadiens' turnaround season (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
In what is looking like it will come down to a two-player race, Florida winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who continues to lead the disappointing Florida Panthers in scoring, and 20-year-old Brendan Gallagher, who has played a key role for the surprising Montreal Canadiens, have begun to move clear from the rest of the rookie field.
Photo: St. Louis Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko has been brilliant in his NHL rookie season. Tarasenko was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
While picking the top NHL prospect is never an easy task, it was particularly difficult in the Spring Top 50 rankings as there were several candidates worthy of consideration for top prospect. Many prospects performed at a high level this season, particularly in the NHL, where a truncated regular season has seen over 125 rookies lace up for at least one game.