Photo: Jake Allen remains the top goaltending prospect in the St. Louis system, but more recent picks like Jordan Binnington should challenge him in the near future. (courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
The St. Louis Blues prospect system is led by a pair of potential top-line forwards in Russian winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Saskatchewan native Jaden Schwartz. Both are dynamic players capable of piling up the points and it should not be long before the duo is lighting the lamps for the Blues.
Photo: Drafted ninth overall in 2010, Finnish Center Mikael Granlund has made his AHL debut this season. Granlund was widely considered one of the best hockey players not playing in North America. (Juan DeLeon/Icon SMI)
Below is the top-10 section of Hockey's Future's NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year.
Mackenzie MacEachern became a YouTube sensation in the hockey community after scoring a diving goal (see below) for the Chicago Steel earlier this season.
Photo: Mackenzie MacEachern (left) and Samuel Kurker (right) are two of four players the Blues drafted who are bound for the NCAA. (Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
The St. Louis Blues entered the 2012 NHL Draft with a loaded prospect pool, consisting of players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and Ty Rattie, who rely more on their speed, skill, and hockey IQ, than size and grit. The main focus for the Blues in 2012 was adding size, grit, and offensive depth to the cupboards.
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.