Happy Sunday everyone! While the Blues play as of late hasn’t given us much reason to be excited, it’s always nice to see some of our prospects having quality seasons. The Chicago Wolves are having a fine season and are one of the hottest teams in the AHL right now, having won 8 of there past 10 games behind the stellar goaltending tandem of Pheonix Copley and Ville Husso. So far this season, Copley has been much improved boasting a record of 11-4-2 with a GAA of 2.32 and a save % of .920, while Husso hasn’t played quite as well, his first AHL season has so far seen him post a record of 5-3-0 with a GAA of 2.76 and a save % of .903. Jordan Binnington has also started 17 games for the Wolves this season, posting a 7-6-1 record with a 3.02 GAA and a .905 save %.
While Kenny Agostino is leading the AHL in scoring for the Wolves with 51 points in 41 games, the real story at forward has been Ivan Barbashev. After what was largely seen as a disappointing rookie season with the Wolves last year, Barbashev has really stepped his game up, posting 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points in 40 games, already surpassing his goal and point total from last season. It also appears he has stepped his game up from the defensive side too, going from a -14 last year to a +5. Wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a call up if some injuries occur.
Another Blues prospect having a fine season for the Wolves is defenseman Vince Dunn, who has put up 7 goals and 13 assists in 36 games, while posting a +12 rating. His defensive ability was seen as a concern in his draft year, but it looks like he has put that concern to rest, as he has had himself a fine season in all aspects of the game in his first season of professional hockey. Depending on how the Kevin Shattenkirk situation unfolds, wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the Blues as early as next season.
Jordan Schmaltz hasn’t fared as well in his 2nd AHL season, posting just 3 goals and 14 assists in just 25 games. Samuel Blais has been a bit disappointing as well, posting 9 goals and 7 assists in 40 games, while those numbers aren’t bad for a rookie, I was expecting a bit more production the way Ken Hitchcock talked about him in training camp, but he still has plenty of time to turn it around. 2016 draft pick Conner Bleackley has been very disappointing in his first season of pro hockey, posting just 1 goal and 6 assists in 33 games. Considering he was more developed than most prospects drafted this past year, I was expecting more from him.
Tage Thompson is back at UCONN after posting 1 goal and 4 assists in 7 games and winning a gold medal at the World Junior Championships. Thompson has seen his production increase this season, posting 14 goals and 8 assists in 21 games for the Huskies, already matching his goal total from last season in 15 fewer games. Most importantly he has seen his even strength production increase, as last season 13 of his 14 goals came on the PP, while this season only 5 of his 14 goals have come via the PP.
Jake Walman has seen his offensive production take a slight dip this season, scoring 4 goals and notching 14 assists in 22 games. The important thing is he has stayed healthy and has played sound defensive hockey this season for Providence. Also having success in the college ranks, 2014 4th round pick Austin Poganski has posted 8 goals and 11 assists in 23 games for the University of North Dakota this season.
At the junior level, 2016 second round pick Jordan Kyrou is having a good season for the Sarnia Sting, putting up 16 goals and 37 assists in 41 games, already seeing improved numbers from last season in 14 less games.
So while the Blues have struggled this season, there could be a lot of reason for optimism if these prospects continue to produce and pan out to be good NHL players. That will just about do it this week. Will update everyone again soon!