St. Louis Blues Sign Defense Prospect Jake Walman

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PROVIDENCE, RI - DECEMBER 30: Jake Walman #19 of the Providence College Friars skates against the Denver Pioneers during NCAA hockey at the Schneider Arena on December 30, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues have signed Jake Walman to an entry-level contract. The Providence College junior will report to the Chicago Wolves for the remainder of the season. Walman just finished his third season with Providence, where he was one of the top defenseman on the team and was an alternate captain. In total, Walman played in 107 games throughout the three seasons. He registered 69 points total, with 28 points coming in just 25 games during the 2015-16 season.

St. Louis Blues Sign Defense Prospect Jake Walman

Walman was drafted by the Blues in the third round of the 2014 draft, 82nd overall. Prior to the draft, he tallied 33 points in 43 games in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. That same year he put up two points in four games in the World Junior A Challenge, playing with the Canada East U19 team.

Walman is 21, which makes him older than Vince Dunn and Niko Mikkola, two other big name prospects in the Blues organization. The team, who has high hopes for Walman, is hoping the year or two difference translates into a more advanced skillset. It’d be easy to draw parallels between Walman’s playing style, and Dunn’s style. Both players are offensive defenseman, and both are somewhat undersized for their position. Still, they possess impressive speed and scoring abilities that make them valuable prospects.

Walman’s skating is one of his strongest abilities. He is only 6’1″, and 201 pounds, which is just under average for height and weight amongst NHL defenseman. He has a history of two way play. Throughout his time with Providence, he has been able to become a better overall player, improving his defensive abilities. This is the strength that would put him above other Blues prospects, especially Dunn. Although Dunn has been very impressive, he does need to improve defensively. Walman has a head-start on Dunn in the defensive area.

Scouting Report by Ben Kerr

Skating

Walman is an absolute elite skater, and may be the best skating defenceman in the NCAA. He has elite speed in both directions. His first step is quick and a smooth, almost effortless stride leads to outstanding acceleration. His edge work, pivots, cross-overs, and agility are all extremely good. He has the type of lateral agility that allows him to quickly walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. In his own zone he rolls off checks and opens up space to clear the puck. Couple this with good balance, and his mobility is off the charts.

This skating ability makes him extremely difficult to beat one-on-one, and able to join, or lead the rush while still recovering defensively and hardly ever getting caught with the level of opposition he faces.

Offensive Game

Offensively, Walman is poised with the puck. He nearly always makes the right decision on the breakout, whether it is a crisp pass, or skating it out himself and rarely turns the puck over. He has excellent vision and can quarterback the play from the blue line. His point shot is decent, but not a howitzer. He could improve it with added muscle mass.

Defensive Game

Defensively Walman is physical despite being undersized.  He loves to throw big hits and battle along the boards.  He also battles hard in the corners and in front of his net despite needing to add muscle.  As stated, Walman is extremely difficult to beat one-on-one due to his superb skating ability.  He is a little raw in his defensive positioning, and will need some coaching on properly reading the play in the defensive zone.  This may improve with more experience on the blue line.

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