Photo: After two strong seasons in the NCAA, St. Louis Blues 2010 top pick Jaden Schwartz turned pro at the end of the 2011-12 season (courtesy of Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
The St. Louis Blues will face increased expectations next season after winning the Central Division for the first time since the 1999-00 season and making the playoffs for just the second time since the 2004-05 lockout. For that same reason, they also have a relatively small number of questions surrounding the roster and player roles heading into the offseason.
Photo: Goaltender Jordan Binnington had a rough post-season posting an 0-2 record and a 5.00 goals against average. (CHL Images)
Plenty of St. Louis prospects made noise during their team's respective postseason runs with several bringing home league championships. Two prospects were integral to Saint John's run toward their second consecutive QMJHL Championship while a third Quebec League prospect came out on top at the Memorial Cup. The Blues were also represented on the Swedish Elite League champion Brynas team. Several other prospects ranked among their league's top scorers during the playoffs despite falling short of the championship.
Photo: After splitting the past two seasons between the AHL and NHL, defenseman Ian Cole appears ready for full-time NHL duties. (Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
After a second place finish in the Western Conference during the 2011-12 season, the hope and promise surrounding the Blues organization is more immediate than ever. That said there were still plenty of notable performances from the prospect ranks within the St. Louis pipeline and even more promise on the horizon. In the inaugural edition of the St. Louis Blues prospect awards, Hockey's Future takes a look at some of these performances. The winner for each category was determined by the writer with assistance from the HF staff.
Photo: Dmitri Jaskin struggled in his second season with Slava Pravia HC. There is some belief Jaskin might benefit from playing in the CHL in 2012-13. (Ken McKenna/HF)
There has been plenty of movement among the St. Louis Blues top 20 this season. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz remain the top prospects in the system but there are several new names among the organization's top 10 prospects. Even after graduating several talented defensemen in recent years, the St. Louis pipeline has a new wave of blue line prospects on the horizon. The 2011 draft class also made an impact, led by Ty Rattie's breakout WHL season as well as a pair of QMJHL prospects making their debut in the rankings.
Photo: In his first season of professional hockey, David Shields has spent the bulk of the season playing in the AHL, where he has no goals and one assist. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The Peoria Rivermen currently occupy third place in the AHL's Midwest Division, with 47 points in 44 games, on pace for a possible playoff berth. The team boasts a load of NHL and AHL veterans such as Jonathan Cheechoo and Brett Sterling, but has younger players, particularly along the blue line, some of whom are considered serious NHL prospects by the St. Louis Blues.
Jake Allen, G, 21
After getting off to a rocky start in Peoria (AHL), Allen joined Team Canada for the Spengler Cup, sharing goaltending duties with veteran Marty Turco. On December 28, the former 2nd round selection (2008) was shelled by host team Davos, dropping an 8-1 decision.