TSP: St. Louis Blues Prospects

St. Louis Blues prospects
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 4: Jordan Kyrou #33 of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Winnipeg Jets at the Enterprise Center on October 4, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the St. Louis Blues Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

St. Louis Blues Prospects

After an impressive 2018 off-season, many picked the Blues as a contender for the Stanley Cup. However, the start of the season was a disaster and the Blues were last in the entire NHL in January. A coaching change, with Craig Berube coming in, and the improbable story of goaltender Jordan Binnington sparked the team though. They were one of the league’s best teams in the second half of the year, forcing their way into a playoff spot. Once they got there, they went on an exciting run making it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970. The Blues would go on to beat the Boston Bruins and capture the franchise’s first Championship.

The off-season has been relatively quiet. Patrick Maroon left the team as a free agent, joining the Tampa Bay Lightning. Other free-agent departures were Michael Del Zotto, Tyler Wotherspoon, Chris Thorburn, Nikita Soshnikov, and Jared Coreau. Free-agent additions include Derrick Pouliot, Jake Dotchin, Mike Vecchione, Nick Lappin, and Nathan Walker. In separate trades with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blues added Dakota Joshua and Andreas Borgman, with Jordan Schmaltz headed to Toronto.

2019 NHL Draft Picks (Grade C-): Nikita AlexandrovColten EllisKeean WashkurakVadim ZherenkoJeremy Michel
Graduations: Robert Thomas, Samuel Blais, Jordan Binnington, Zach Sanford,

 

Top Prospect: Jordan Kyrou

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born May 5th, 1998 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 177 lbs [183 cm / 80 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2nd round, #35 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft

Kyrou split time between St. Louis and San Antonio. He also had some time on the sidelines due to a lower-body injury. While he struggled to find his game at the NHL level with just one goal and three points in 16 games, he was outstanding at the AHL level. 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points in 47 games from a 20-year-old is outstanding.

Skating

Kyrou is a great skater, featuring excellent speed and top-notch acceleration. Once Kyrou gets a step on a defender, he can really turn on the jets and pull away, allowing him to cut wide and still get to the net. He has excellent edgework and agility. Kyrou can change directions on a dime and makes a wide variety of moves with the puck, allowing him to elude defenders, and find his way through offensive zone traffic. Kyrou has good power in his stride and excellent lower-body strength that makes him difficult to knock off the puck.

Offensive Game

Kyrou is an excellent playmaker. He has good vision and the ability to extend plays and wait for teammates to get open before feathering them a tape to tape pass. He reads the play well and makes good decisions on when to make that pass to an open teammate. Kyrou is especially dangerous on the power play where he can use his skills and vision to take advantage of the extra space and break down the defence from his spot on the half wall. Kyrou’s speed makes him extremely dangerous off the rush, however, he also controls the puck well in the cycle game and works hard down low.

Kyrou worked hard to improve his wrist shot over his junior career and it showed in his first pro season. He increased power and his release was quicker.  It gave AHL level goalies problems. Kyrou also added upper-body mass and put more muscle on his frame. This has helped him against professional opponents. He can still get even stronger though and this would help him to win more battles along the boards and establish his position in front of the net. He is decent at the AHL level but there is room to really take his game to the next level.

Defensive Game

Kyrou has already started to develop a strong defensive game. His quickness is extremely valuable for breaking up plays and transitioning to offence. Kyrou was a valuable penalty killer in junior and has already taken some limited time with that role in the AHL. Expect those minutes to increase this year if he is back in San Antonio. Kyrou is effective at cutting down shooting and passing lanes, blocking shots, and working for loose pucks along the boards. He competes hard, but this is another area where some added upper body strength would be help round out Kyrou’s game at the next level.

Outlook

Kyrou will fight for a spot out of training camp. At just 21-years-old and with high-end potential, the Blues must consider his future. If he earns a top-nine role, he should be on the team but if he is a fourth liner, then it might make more sense to spend time in the AHL. Even if he is sent down, expect Kyrou to receive call-ups through the year when the Blues need injury replacements. He is very close to NHL ready.

 

Prospect #2: Dominik Bokk

Left Wing — shoots Right
Born February 3rd, 2000 — Schweinfurt, Germany
Height 6’1″ — Weight 180 lbs [185 cm/82 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1st round, #25 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft

Bokk had a solid season as a teenager playing in the SHL. He scored eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 47 games with the Vaxjo Lakers. He also added two goals and an assist in six playoff games. Internationally, Bokk played for Germany at the World Junior Championships (D1A Division). With one goal, seven assists, and eight points in five tournament games, he helped the Germany team win the tournament and earn promotion to the top division this year. He led the entire tournament in both assists and points.

Skating

Bokk is a strong skater. His top-end speed is above average, but not blazing. However, what really helps is the fact that Bokk has a very good first step and strong acceleration. He reaches top speed in just a few strides. This helps him be quick to pounce on loose pucks and win short races. His ability to change speeds can also create space on the rush. Book also has good edgework and agility, which allows him to weave through traffic and make plays in tight spaces. He could add some lower-body strength to improve his balance and be stronger on the puck going forward.

Offensive Game

Bokk has outstanding stickhandling ability. He has incredible hands and can make plays in a phone booth. He pairs this with very good vision and passing skills. Bokk has high-end hockey IQ, he always seems to make smart plays with the puck and knows how to get open without it. Bokk is strong on his skates and protects the puck well in the cycle game. This should improve even more as he continues to add muscle to his frame.

Bokk is a goal scorer. He has a good arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are hard and accurate. They both also feature a quick release. Bokk’s slap shot and one-timer are also strong. While his shots are good Bokk can also score in tight. He goes to the net and can score with tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and with the quick hands to bang in passes from teammates.

Defensive Game

Bokk also needs to work on his defensive game, with more commitment to the backcheck, and better positioning needed. It is a bit of a work in progress, but it must be remembered that this was Bokk’s first season playing against high-end competition. At lower levels of the World Championships and in German junior leagues, there are few players who have the offensive skills of Bokk. He would have had the puck through most of his time in those leagues and not have needed to learn much on the defensive end. With good coaching and development, this aspect of this game should develop.

Outlook

Bokk returns to the SHL and will play for Rogle this year. The Blues hope to have him in North America for the 2020-21 season. He may need a year in the AHL once he does come over, but the Blues have an excellent prospect here. Bokk could become an effective top-six forward and that will be worth the wait.

 

Prospect #3: Mitch Reinke

Defence — shoots Right
Born February 4th, 1996 — Stillwater, Minnesota
Height 5’11” — Weight 181 lbs [180 cm / 82 kg]
Signed by the St. Louis Blues in March 2018.

After signing as a college free agent at the end of the 2018 season, Reinke was excellent in his first full season as a professional. He put up 12 goals and 33 assists for 45 points in 76 games. It was enough to see Reinke named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.

Skating

Coming in at just 5-foot-11, Reinke is a little undersized for a defenceman. He makes up for that with his skating. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions. This allows him to cover a lot of ice and play a strong two-way game. Add in good pivots, edgework and agility and he can cover a lot of ice. Reinke can join the rush or pinch in at the line and still get back and take care of his defensive responsibilities. He is decent on the boards and in front of the net but can add more strength to take that aspect of his game to the next level.

Offensive Game

Reinke is a smart player. He moves the puck up the ice efficiently as he combines his strong skating with good stickhandling ability to avoid forecheckers and start the transition game. When an opening is available, he makes a good first pass to the forward group and can even make the long breakaway pass if a teammate can get behind the defence. Reinke also has poise at the opponent’s blue line. He can quarterback the play, using his agility and quick hands to control the puck and open up shooting and passing lanes.

Reinke has a powerful slap shot, which he also gets off with a good one-timer. He keeps it low and on the net, giving teammates the opportunity to get in front and create screens, get deflections or pounce on rebounds. He is also good at sneaking down from the point and letting his wrist shot go at the top of the circles. His wrist shot is also strong and accurate. Reinke can also let that wrist shot go as the trailer on the rush.

Defensive Game

Reinke’s defensive game is continually improving. With his strong skating and good instincts, he maintains good gap control and keeps his man to the outside and away from high-danger scoring areas. He is good positionally and also cuts down passing lanes. Reinke is quick to retrieve loose pucks and start the transition out of his own end. He could be a bit stronger and this would help him to be even better at clearing the front of the net and winning battles on the boards.

Outlook

On many teams, Reinke would go to training camp with a real shot to be on the team to start the season. However, the Blues have a very deep defence and cracking the lineup will not be easy for the 23-year-old with just one year in the AHL. Expect him to start the season in San Antonio. Reinke will be a prime candidate for a callup if there are any injuries on the Blues blue line.

 

Prospect #4: Scott Perunovich

Defence — shoots Left
Born August 18th, 1998 — Hibbing, Minnesota
Height 5’10” — Weight 174 lbs [178 cm/79 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2nd round, #45 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft

Perunovich had another outstanding season, leading the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to a second straight National Championship. He scored three goals and 29 points in 39 games. The list of individual awards was also long. Perunovich was named the NCHC Best Offensive Defenseman, a member of the NCHC First All-Star Team, and a member of the NCAA (West) Second All-American Team.

Skating

Being just 5-foot-10, Perunovich needs to use his skating ability to overcome his lack of size. He is able to do just that. He is a dynamic skater in both directions. His first step and acceleration are particularly strong, as he reaches top speed in just a few strides. While that top speed isn’t among the fastest in the draft class, it is still very good. His lateral movement, agility and edgework are all top-notch. This allows him to cover a lot of ice. Perunovich can pinch at the blue line or join the rush, and still get back defensively. He also has the quick pivots to transition quickly from defence to offence and vice-versa.  His crossovers add power to his stride. Perunovich has a low centre of gravity, and this makes him tough to knock off the puck.

Offensive Game

Perunovich creates offence through poise and creativity. He has the puck handling skills to extend plays and wait for a teammate to get open. When they do, he can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas. Perunovich has excellent vision and hockey IQ. He is a true power-play quarterback. When he has the puck in his own zone, Perunovich has a variety of weapons. He can skate the puck out of danger and start the rush himself. He can also make a long home run pass to a streaking teammate, looking for that breakaway. Perunovich can also headman the puck to a teammate and join the rush as a trailer.

Perunovich’s slap shot is average. However, he knows how to get it on the net. Perunovich uses his lateral agility and puck handling ability to walk the line and open up shooting lanes. When he gets one, he keeps the puck low and gets it on the net, giving his teammates opportunities at rebounds and tip-ins. Perunovich is willing to vary things, using snapshots or wrist shots if he does not have the time and space for a big wind-up. He will also find opportunities to sneak in from the point to let that shot go from the top of the circles.

Defensive Game

Perunovich’s defensive game is where the lack of size might be a bit of an issue. He can be overpowered by bigger, stronger forwards in the cycle game and has problems clearing the front of the net. There are also some issues with his positioning that need to improve. Perunovich is able to get away with some riskier plays at the NCAA level, but it is unclear if that part of his game will be able to translate to the pros, without burning him too often.

Outlook

Perunovich is just 21-years-old. He will head back to college for his junior season and hope to lead the Bulldogs to a three-peat. He can use the time to continue to add muscle and get stronger before coming up to the pros. With the depth on the Blues blue line right now, there is no need to rush him. He could sign a pro contract and join St. Louis or San Antonio after the college season.

 

Prospect #5: Ville Husso

Goalie — shoots Left — Catches Left
Born February 6th, 1995 — Helsinki, Finland
Height 6’3″ — Weight 205 lbs [191 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 4th round, #94 overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft

Husso battled injury last season, playing just 27 games for the San Antonio Rampage. His numbers, when he did play were disappointing as he put up a 3.67 goals-against-average and .871 save percentage. Both numbers were far worse than his first two AHL seasons. On a personal level, his injuries were even more disappointing as he likely would have been called up instead of Binnington if not for the injury. Of course, that is no guarantee that the team would have had the same results.

Talent Analysis

Listed at 6-foot-3, Husso may not be huge, but he still has good size for an NHL goalie.  He plays a strong butterfly technique and shows strong positioning. Husso comes out to challenge shooters, which makes him appear even bigger in the net. He is a good skater which allows him to challenge, while still recovering in his net on deke attempts. Husso has a very good leg push. This helps him get from side-to-side quickly. He tracks the puck extremely well, taking away one-timer attempts and cross-ice passes. His glove hand is especially strong.

Husso has very good rebound control for a young goaltender. He swallows up pucks, and those he can’t he kicks to the corners. His legs are quick and the reflexes good which takes away the bottom of the net. Husso’s puck handling is a weakness though, as he is not the type of goalie to pass the puck up to his defencemen or aid in starting the transition game. He tends to stay in his net though because of this.

Mental Make-up

Husso is cool and calm in the net. He does not seem to panic no matter how much pressure he is under or how big the game. Husso does not let bad goals get to him and bounces back quickly. He shows maturity beyond his years. Husso has been a leader in his age group during international tournaments.

Outlook

Now 24 years old, Husso is very close to NHL ready. Of course, Binnington will start the season as the Blues top goalie. The backup spot might be a battle between Husso and Allen. However, Husso is eligible to go to the AHL without having to clear waivers and after a lost season in 2018-19, he needs to play hockey, not be a backup goalie. Expect to see him in San Antonio. If an injury occurs, or Binnington struggles in his second year, there could be a battle for starts. What is most likely though is that Husso is looking to win the backup job in 2020-21.

 

Prospect #6: Klim Kostin

Centre/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born May 5th, 1999 — Penza, Russia
Height 6’3″ — Weight 212 lbs [191 cm / 96 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1st round, #31 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Kostin improved his goal-scoring numbers but saw his assists and overall points drop in his second year in the AHL. He put up 10 goals and 24 points in 66 games. Kostin also played for Russia at the World Juniors, scoring three goals and six points in seven games. He won a bronze medal and was named a top-three player on the team.

Skating

Kostin is a strong skater. He has excellent speed and acceleration. Kostin has the ability to beat defenders to the outside and then cut to the net. He also has very good lateral agility and edgework which also gives him the ability to cut inside on a defender if they are not in the proper position. Add to this a strong lower body, and the balance and power to create issues in the offensive zone, and Kostin can beat opponents in a variety of ways.

Offensive Game

Kostin has the strength and size to play a powerful game, as he is strong on the puck; effective in maintaining possession down low; and difficult to contain when he drives the net. He is also highly skilled, with soft hands and excellent stickhandling ability and a fantastic wrist shot and release. Kostin has the moves to shed defenders to create a scoring opportunity; along with snipers shot to bury the puck once he gets that open.

Kostin also has good vision and passing skills. He can make creative plays with the puck, feathering a pass to a teammate through very tight openings. Kostin also plays a gritty game, as he is not afraid to get to the front of the net, or battle for loose pucks at both ends of the ice. He could stand to be a little more selfish, and shoot the puck more as he often looks to make a pass. His biggest issue is consistency. There are games where Kostin is absolutely dominant and looks like the best player on the ice, and one of the best players in this draft. There are also games where he seems to disappear for long stretches of time.

Defensive Game

Inconsistent effort levels also plague Kostin at the defensive end of the ice. There are times where he looks like an intense back-checker and solid contributor in his own end. There are also times where all hope seems lost for Kostin. Fixing this issue will be a key part of Kostin’s development.

Outlook

Kostin’s AHL numbers should not be cause for panic at this stage. While they are disappointing considering the hype around Kostin (and his strong play in the Blues 2017 training camp immediately after being drafted), it is important to remember that he was 19 last year and most of his peers are playing junior hockey while he is trying to be a power forward in a men’s league. Kostin should be back with San Antonio and take a big step forward this year.

 

Prospect #7: Niko Mikkola

Defence — shoots Left
Born April 27th, 1996 — Kiiminki, Finland
Height 6’4″ — Weight 185 lbs [193 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 5th round, #127 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft

Mikkola scored two goals and nine points in 70 games during his rookie season with the Rampage. After the season, he joined Finland at the World Championships, scoring two goals and five points in 10 tournament games. He helped Finland to a gold medal and was named a top-three player on the team.

Skating

Mikkola is a very good skater for someone with his height. He has good speed in both directions. More importantly, he has very good edgework and agility. This helps him to keep attackers in front of him, maintain good gap control, and makes him difficult to beat one-on-one. Mikkola has good strength and wins battles along the boards and clears the front of the net.

Offensive Game

Despite a run of points at the World Championships, that shouldn’t be expected from Mikkola on a consistent basis. What you see is what you get with him in the offensive zone. He can make a good first pass out of the defensive zone and start the transition game. However, he is not one to join the rush or take offensive chances. Mikkola is not that creative in the offensive zone. He lacks the poise and patience to create offensive chances, instead, moving the puck quickly around the perimeter. His slap shot is decent, but he doesn’t always get it through to the net when faced with traffic.

Defensive Game

Mikkola is at his best in his own end. He is a solid defensive player, who forces attackers to the outside and keeps his body between his man and the net. While he is not a huge hitter, Mikkola plays a physical game, fighting for pucks in the corners and working to clear the front of the net. He also uses his big frame and long stick to block shots and cut down passing lanes. His instincts and ability to read a play help him to create turnovers. Once he retrieves a loose puck, he looks to move it up the ice quickly.

Outlook

Mikkola will likely start the season with the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. Mikkola is not quite NHL ready and needs to continue to develop his game. He is likely a year or two away from being NHL ready.

 

Prospect #8:  Nikita Alexandrov

The Blues drafted Alexandrov with the 62nd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Alexandrov. No games were played since that report; so we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

Prospect #9: Evan Fitzpatrick

Goalie — shoots Left — catches Left
Born January 28th, 1998 — St.John’s, Newfoundland
Height 6’3″ — Weight 202 lbs [191 cm / 92 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2nd round, #59 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

Fitzpatrick split his first pro season between the Rampage and the Tulsa Oilers in the ECHL. He put up a 2.66 goals-against-average and .901 save percentage in the AHL. Fitzpatrick had a bit more ice time in Tulsa but also had some struggles behind a poor defensive club. He had a 3.30 goals-against-average and .874 save percentage in 25 games.

Talent Analysis

Fitzpatrick is a hybrid style netminder. With his excellent size, he covers a lot of the net. He takes advantage of this by coming out to challenge shooters, and by having an excellent sense on his angles. He’s also very technically sound for a young netminder, with rebound control not often seen in someone his age. Fitzpatrick understands how to kick low shots into the corners and to swallow up those that come in high. He keeps himself square to the puck at almost all times, even when making saves on second-chance opportunities.

Fitzpatrick takes away the bottom of the net with his quick legs.  He gets down into the butterfly quickly and pops right back up. He also has an excellent glove hand, taking away the top of the net. Fitzpatrick tracks the puck well and his lateral movement is excellent. He has an excellent push with his legs, giving him strong lateral movement. His strong legs and good skating allow him to play the aggressive style and challenge shooters.

Fitzpatrick has extremely good athleticism. Even if out of position, Fitzpatrick never gives up on a play, and makes some highlight-reel saves as a result. In addition to good technique, he has extremely fast reflexes and the competitiveness to never give up on a play.

Mental Makeup

Fitzpatrick shows a good demeanour. He stays calm in his net, and his coolness in the face of heavy pressure shows good leadership and is something his teammates lean on. If he does give up a bad goal, he has the ability to quickly forget about it and be ready to make the next big save. He could use some work on playing the puck in his own end, developing the ability to make a strong outlet pass to his defenders could help his game.

Outlook

Fitzpatrick struggled in his first pro season, there is no way to sugar-coat that. That said, goaltenders are long term projects and he is still young and has plenty of potential. With Husso projected for the AHL, Fitzpatrick might be in the ECHL where he can play plenty of minutes.

 

Prospect #10: Jake Walman

Defence — shoots Left
Born February 20th, 1996 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 201 lbs [185 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 3rd Round, #82 overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft

Walman spent his second full season in the AHL with San Antonio. In 66 games he put up three goals and 10 assists for 13 points.

Skating

Walman is an absolute elite skater and may have been the best skater in the AHL last year. He has elite speed in both directions. His first step is quick and a smooth, almost effortless stride leads to outstanding acceleration. His edgework, 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 faced in college. Obviously, at the NHL level, opponents are even faster, and his skating advantage is reduced. He will need to pick his spots.

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 improved since he was drafted. It is good, but not elite.  He needs to do a better job of using his lateral movement to open up passing and shooting lanes though. Too often Walman will try to force a play where there is not an opening, leading to the offensive opportunity dying on his stick?

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. 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.

Outlook

Walman seemed to stagnate a bit this past season. Now 23, he needs to have a strong year in order to get a shot in the NHL or he could end up being moved ala Jordan Schmaltz. Expect Walman to start the year in the AHL and work on translating his skills into a bit more scoring. He could be called up if playing well and injuries hit the Blues blueline.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Alexei Toropchenko

Right Wing — shoots Left
Born June 25th, 1999 — Moscow, Russia
Height 6’3″ — Weight 200 lbs [191 cm/91 kg]
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 4th round, #113 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft

Toropchenko put up 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points in 62 games with the Guelph Storm last season. However, he took his game to another level in the OHL Playoffs and the Memorial Cup. His 13 goals and 19 points in 24 games helped the Storm win the OHL Championship. He added three goals and six points in four Memorial Cup games, but the Storm fell in the semi-finals.

Skating

Toropchenko is a good skater, especially given his size. His speed is very good and he has a decent first step and acceleration to reach that speed quickly. This allows him to keep up with the play and he is even dangerous on the rush. He is strong on his skates and if he gets a step on a defender he can drop his shoulder and cut to the net. That strength and balance is also useful in battling for loose pucks on the boards. His next test will be a big one though as Toropchenko goes from junior opponents to pros. Toropchenkos edgework and agility are also decent.

Offensive Game

Toropchenko is a natural goal-scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot and a very good release. His snapshot and his backhand are also accurate and powerful. He gets himself into open areas of the ice and is ready for a pass from a teammate. Once he gets that pass he can get the shot on the net quickly, not allowing defenders to close in or goalies to get set up. He can also get to the front of the net and create screens, get deflections or pounce on rebounds. His ability to create havoc in front of the net distracts opponents and creates space for teammates.

Toropchenko is not much of a playmaker though. He does not try to be creative with passes and could also improve his stickhandling and puck control. The assists he get are through hard work. He has the size to win battles for loose pucks or to protect the puck along the boards. He then makes a simple pass to a linemate and looks for open ice on the give-and-go.

Defensive Game

Toropchenko is willing to help support the defence and plays a responsible game in his own end. He uses his size and strength to help contain opponents on the cycle games. He also uses his body and a long stick to keep opponents on the outside while cutting down passing and shooting lanes. Toropchenko is not that good in the face-off circle though, and his future likely lies on the wing.

Outlook

Toropchenko leaves his junior career behind and is headed for San Antonio. He is a long-term project as it sometimes takes bigger forwards a bit of development time, especially when they move from facing teenagers to pro hockey. Expect him to spend two or three years in the AHL before he’s ready for a full-time shot in St. Louis.

 

System Outlook

The Blues system is not as strong as it was a year ago, due to some graduations, traded prospects and picks. That said there is still some decent depth here thanks to strong late-round drafting in recent years. In goal, the Blues also have Joel Hofer, Vadim Zherenko, and Colten Ellis. The defence also includes Anton Andersson, Tyler Tucker, and Andreas Borgman. Forward prospects to keep an eye on include: Erik Foley, Mathias Laferriere, Austin Poganski, Filip Helt, Keean Washkurak, Hugh McGing, Nolan Stevens, and Jeremy Michel.

 

St. Louis Blues Prospects Main Photo:

ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 4: Jordan Kyrou #33 of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Winnipeg Jets at the Enterprise Center on October 4, 2018, in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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