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.
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.