Now that yet another Development Camp is behind us, and those of us who actually live in and around St. Louis have had a chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the Blues' top youngsters, it's time to start thinking about what we can expect for next season.
The days in which the Blues had what was considered the best prospect stable in the NHL are gone, unfortunately, as many of those players -- Oshie, Eller, Perron, Pietrangelo, Allen, Berglund, Schwartz, Tarasenko, Polak and others -- have graduated to the NHL, and have been replaced in the system by newer, younger guys who may or may not have the same potential for stardom as the aforementioned.
The Blues do, however, still have a pretty good and well-balanced group of kids to develop, and our task over the next few weeks is going to be to put them in some sort of order as to which players are the cream of the Blues' prospect crop.
First Things First
The first thing we need to do, however, is establish what our criteria should be for determining who the Blues' top prospects are.
Do we consider the prospects who are closest to being NHL ready -- the Ty Ratties, Ivan Barbashevs, and Jordan Schmaltzes of the world -- to be the top prospects in the system?
Or are the Blues' top prospects the ones with the most as-yet-untapped potential? This criterion tends to favor the newest prospects in the system over the more "seasoned" ones, but a case can be made that Tage Thompson and Jordan Kyrou deserve to be in the conversation as the top prospect in the system right now.
Or do we want to take the more traditional route and simply assert that the most talented players -- the five already mentioned, along with guys like Vince Dunn, Samuel Blais, and pretty much all of the goalies -- are the top prospects in the system?
So, before we trot out a list of top prospects, your GTPD is going to ask you, the reader, to define what we should be considering as we put together a list of the top prospects in the system.
Some of our sister sites on the SBNation network are doing a "Top 25 Under 25" list which would include players already on the NHL roster who are under the age of 25 years. In the Blues' case, that list would be led by Vladimir Tarasenko, and would also include Jaden Schwartz, Robbie Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Dmitrij Jaskin, and Joel Edmundson. We'd have to leave Jake Allen off, however, because he's already 25 and, indeed, will celebrate his 26th birthday in less than a month.
So because the Blues already have a pretty good group of U25 players on the NHL roster, we're going to focus strictly on the players that we define as "prospects" -- that is, players under the age of 25 (as of the start of training camp in mid-September) who have less than 80 total games of NHL experience (40 games for goaltenders).
Now, you tell us how we should evaluate these prospects. Vote in the poll below.
Coming soon, a complete recap of the 2015-16 stats for each player in the systems who meet the "prospect" criteria above... to help you decide who gets ranked where, depending on the criteria you opt for.