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.
Photo: Currently sidelined with an injured knee, Ryan Tesink brings explosive offensive ability to the St. Louis Blues organization. (Photo courtesy of Dave Connell/HF)
Going into the 2011 draft, many of the Blues' top prospects could be found playing either in Europe or in the AHL. However this past June, GM Doug Armstrong made a number of picks from major junior ranks, focusing especially on the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior League.
Ty Rattie, RW, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired: 2nd round (32nd overall) in 2011
Photo: Yannick Veilleux plays the rough and tumble style of game of a power forward but will need to develop for at least one more year in the QMJHL before joining the St. Louis Blues organization. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Credit former Blues player personnel director and current GM Doug Armstrong and his staff; as the team's NHL fortunes appear to be on the rise, the St. Louis Blues' talent pipeline is also one of the deepest and strongest in the game.
At forward, not only is there significant quality depth, particularly at center and right wing, but this group also displays an interesting and promising range of skills, with both finesse and power players.
On defense, there are a significant number of legitimate NHL prospects who project as at least second or third pairing defenseman. And, clearly, recent NHL history shows that a team can never have enough NHL quality defensemen, especially come playoff time.
Photo: Ty Rattie joins a diverse and talented group of forwards in St. Louis. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Strength at forward is what defines the current crop of prospects for the St. Louis Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz continue to lead the Blues prospect pool though new additions Ty Rattie, Dmitri Jaskin, and Evgeny Grachev bring some additional depth.
1. (1) Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, 8.5C
Drafted 1st Round, 16th overall, 2010
The St. Louis Blues were without a first round pick in the 2011 draft, but with three second round sections the club was able to add some promising prospects. Their first selection, Ty Rattie, put up impressive numbers for Portland of the WHL and was ranked as the 17th best North American skater by Central Scouting. The club also strengthened their already impressive standing between the pipes, selecting two goaltenders – Jordan Binnington and Niklas Lundstrom.
Ty Rattie, RW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
2nd Round, 32nd Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 167 lbs