Top 11 Things That Your "Game Time" Prospect Department Is Looking Forward To For 2011-12

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 25: 41st overall pick Dmitri Jaskin by the St. Louis Blues poses for a photo portrait during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

11. Seeing if Jake "The Snake" Allen can insert himself into the mix along with Ben Bishop and Brian Elliot in the battle to back up Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis this year.

10. Seeing what Brock Beukeboom can do on a contending team in major junior, provided he can stay healthy all season.

9. Seeing if Cody Beach can build on his emergence as a scoring threat in 2010-11.

8. Seeing how the young blueline in Peoria – Ian Cole, Mark Cundari, Cade Fairchild, Brett Ponich and David Shields – grows as a unit. As second-year pros, Cole and Cundari will be the "greybeards" of this group.

7. Seeing if Paul Karpowich buckles down as a senior, puts Clarkson University’s hockey team on his back, carries them to an ECAC title and a spot in the NCAA tournament, and forces his way into the Blues’ long-term goaltending picture. He’s capable of accomplishing every one of those things...

6. Seeing Jani Hakanpää, Niklas Lündstrom and Dmitrij Jaskin take on larger roles with their senior league clubs in Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, respectively.

5. Seeing Peoria’s lineup be so solid and deep that the Blues have to rotate some contracted prospects into and out of Alaska in order for all of them to get playing time.

4. Wondering if this is the year that Brett Sonne figures out the offensive side of the pro game; he’s been coming along nicely on the defensive side, for which he was originally drafted (plus/minus figures notwithstanding).

3. Seeing if Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko get to work together in Novosibirsk, and if they are able to bring any chemistry they might develop along with them to North America after Sibir’s season is done.

2. Watching Jaden Schwartz emerge as an NCAA scoring leader, a force in the World Juniors, and a solid Hobey Baker candidate.

...and finally:

1. Seeing the Blues remain as injury-free as possible, so that the solid lineup the Blues have put together for Peoria can stay relatively intact all year and get the Rivermen out of the first round of the AHL playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
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