By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
With their fifth pick in the 2012 Entry Draft at 116th overall (fourth round), the Blues continued to deepen their prospect pool on defense by selecting rugged blueliner Nick Walters from the WHL's Everett (WA) Silvertips. With their next pick, at 146th overall in the fifth round, the Blues went to the other side of Canada to tap goaltender Francois Tremblay fromn the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs.
Walters was ranked the 67th-best prospect in North America for the 2012 Entry Draft by the NHL's Central Scouting Service, up one spot from 68th at Midterm. Walters was also ranked 89th overall by "The Hockey News" in their 2012 Draft Preview, and 86th overall by International Scouting Services in their 2012 Entry Draft Preview.
ISS rated Walters "Very Good" in the Size/Strength category, "Good" in the Skating and Shot categories, and "Average" in the categories of Puck Skills and Hockey Sense. The scouting report goes on to note that Walters is "(a)n intense and physical defensive defender" that is "never a player opposing skaters are happy to match up against."
ISS further notes that Walters' offensive upside is minimal, and that he is "a good skater with decent mobility, (who) controls his gap well and can box out opponents around the net effectively." Where Walters excels, according to the scouts at ISS, is in his ability to play a " feisty, bordering on mean, style of defense. He can throw some thunderous checks and is not afraid to challenge opponents to fights."
Tremblay, the Blues' only goaltender selection of the 2012 draft, was ranked the 5th-best goaltending prospect in North America for the 2012 Entry Draft by the NHL's Central Scouting Service, up one spot from 6th at Midterm. The native of Baie-Comeau, Quebec was not ranked in the Top 100 by "The Hockey News" in their 2012 Draft Preview, but was rated the 12th-best goaltending prospect overall by International Scouting Services in their 2012 Entry Draft Preview.
The Hockey's Future website calls Tremblay "(a) big goalie who naturally covers a large part of the net," and notes that he plays a sound positional game, is "(a)lways square to the shooter, he controls rebounds well and has a good glove hand." HF's talent summary of Tremblay is that he "(p)lays a calm and focused game in between the pipes, but needs to continue to improve his quickness in the crease."
Former NHL goaltender Al Jensen, commenting at NHL.com, confirms those observations. Jensen notes that Tremblay is "one of the best technical goalies in the draft. He's a typical butterfly-style goalie -- calm, relaxed and patient. He's very tough to beat down low, he's very square, and his positional play is good. He may not be as quick as some of the goalies I've mentioned, but he's smart and keeps his body upright. I don't see many holes, and I see a good upside from this kid."
Here's a bonus video clip of Walters in action, laying a big hit on a Seattle Thunderbirds player and then scrapping with Mark Messier's son Jordan after the hit:
And here's an interview and highlights video of Tremblay: