Blues Top 25 Prospects Like most prospect rankings, the Blues have seen some major moves on their top 25 list this season, including a new #1, a retirement, the exchange of five prospects for three via two trades and two new additions, the result of emerging late round draft gems. The 2005 draft class is looking particularly stellar with four players in the top 10 and three others in the top 25. While the Blues already have two draft picks already graduated and playing in St. Louis: (Dany Heatley & Chuck Kobasew), several others are poised to graduate from prospect status this season, including Guillaume Latendresse, Josh Gorges, Garth Murray and potentially Dustin Byfuglien and Dan Paille. Included is the previous pre-season ranking in brackets. 1. (4) Guillaume Latendresse, 1st round, 18th overall, 2005 Entry Draft Latendresse has leapt up the rankings to become the Blues number one prospect based on his early arrival and impact in the NHL. While Blues management had expected patience would be required with the burgeoning power forward, “Gui” has forced the team to adjust their expectations as he will be a full time member of the forward corps next season. He played one scrimmage on Joe Thornton’s wing in training camp and could find a full time roll there in a few years. HFNHL ETA: 2007-2008. 2. (1) David Bolland, 1st round, 27th overall, 2004 Entry Draft Bolland didn’t lose the top spot as much as it was taken from him and he has progressed as expected in the AHL, which is to say he has had ups and downs. He has put up points, played a solid two-way game, while also battling the injury bug. It may take a few years for Bolland to make it as he fills out his slight frame and gets used to the added rigor of professional hockey, but he is again considered a rather safe prospect. He has producing consistently since New Years. HFNHL ETA: 2008-2009. 3. (3) Daniel Paille, 1st round, 16th overall, 2002 Entry Draft Paille continues to knock on the door of the NHL with his solid two-way game, along with tremendous leadership. The captain of his AHL team before his latest call-up, Paille remains one of the Blues safest prospects. HFNHL E TA: 2007-2008. 4. (NR) Alvaro Montoya, via trade with Phoenix, January 2007 With the exchange of Montoya for LeNeveu in the Phoenix trade, the Blues feel they replaced their goalie of the future, with a few less questions to their ability as was the case with LeNeveu. Montoya however, has had his injury problems over the past few seasons, so the Blues will be patient with young stopper, especially considering the presence of both Marty Turco and Mathieu Garon. HFNHL ETA: 2008-2009. 5. (5) Andrew Cogliano, 2nd round, 33rd overall, 2005 Entry Draft Able to handle the puck while still utilizing his blinding speed, this Michigan Wolverine also possesses elite level upside. With his work ethic, the risk with Cogliano has diminished somewhat, as he has turned into a stellar penalty killer and a consistent high energy player. Still, he a small with a lot of areas in need of refinement. HFNHL ETA: 2009-2010. 6. (11) Dustin Byfuglien, 3rd round, 91st overall, 2003 Entry Draft The Blues surprised many observers when they used a 3rd round pick on “Bubba” back in 2003, but he has shown the fortitude and discipline to overcome his weight problems and take advantage of his substantial natural talents. The polar opposite of Gorges, Byfuglien is currently in a dead heat with Josh for the 7th spot on the Blues defensive depth chart. With a booming shot, an enormous frame, a strong skating stride and tremendous athleticism, the Blues will have hit a home run if his game ultimately becomes the sum of its individual parts. HFNHL ETA: A call-up going forward. 7. (6) Josh Gorges, 6th round, 176th overall, 2002 Entry Draft A consummate over-achiever, this late round gem by the Blues has continued to defy his critics by consistently producing at a level well above the sum of his individual parts. While he will never be a Norris trophy candidate, he is a cerebral type of player who is most appreciated over time and the Blues hope he will be a complimentary member of their top 6 for many years to come. HFNHL ETA: A call-up going forward. 8. (7) Adam Pineault, 2nd round, 38th overall, 2004 Entry Draft After the obligatory slow start junior players face in their first pro action, Pineult has made tremendous strides since September, continuing to emerge as a bonafide power forward with his elite level shot, high end speed and the type of consistent energy in his game Blues scouts had been pleading for. While his upside is likely not first line, his upside is seen along the lines of a complimentary sniper on a scoring line, ala Mike Knuble. HFNHL ETA: 2008-2009. 9. (NR) Logan Stephenson, via trade with Phoenix, January 2007 The Blues bid adieu to Brendan Mikkelson in their latest trade, but only based on getting the rugged Stephenson back as part of the deal. While he’ll never possess Mikkelson’s wheels, Stephenson is a much more significant physical presence, who has continued to refine his offensive game and give Blues scouts a feeling he could be more than a third pairing defensive defencemen. The Blues hope they have found their next Brendan Witt as Stephenson has had no trouble bringing his physical game to the pros this season. HFNHL ETA: 2009-2010. 10. (20) Oskars Bartulis, 5th round, 134th overall, 2005 Entry Draft Bartulis continues to rocket up the Blues prospect list and past several higher drafted blue-liners based on his continued stellar play in the QMJHL as one of the premiere defencemen in the league this season. Has everything required of a top four d-man and after helping Cape Breton take a run at the Memorial Cup this season, he is expected to join the Blues AHL affiliate next year as the next step in his development. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 11. (8) Chris Summers, 1st round, 29th overall, 2006 Entry Draft A Blues scouts favorite, Summers had his early troubles adjusting at Michigan in the early going this year, but has progressed well with the Wolverines, as his elite level skating and physical play have been evident even at the NCAA level. He brings the type of intensity and energy to the game the Blues love and has a skating stride that is second to none. He also possesses the intangibles Blues management covets, in addition to the versatility to play either defence or the wing. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 12. (16) Cody Burki, C, 2nd round, 48th overall, 2006 Entry Draft Like his 2nd round draft-mate Ben Maxwell, Burki has shown the WHL that he is an offensive force, as he remains the top scorer for Brandon. Burki has continued to fill out and is using his frame more than ever, as the Blues hope they have a future centermen in Burki. Like Maxwell, Burki was a late cut for Canada’s WJC team. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 13. (12) Ben Maxwell, 2nd round, 31st overall, 2006 Entry Draft Maxwell stormed out of the gate to lead the WHL in scoring, which garnered him an invite to Canada’s WJC training camp, however after being cut, Maxwell suffered an elbow injury that has had him out of the line-up since December. Regardless, Blues management are excited that Maxwell has taken his offensive game to the next level. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 14. (13) Jhonas Enroth, G, 3rd round, 71st overall, 2006 Entry Draft Enroth continues his development in the SEL and on the world stage for Team Sweden at the latest WJC. His acrobatic style needs much refinement, but his potential is unquestioned. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 15. (9) Dennis Persson, D, 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2006 Entry Draft Persson has seen limited play this season due to depth issues on his SEL team, but the Blues are still high on him. Persson has the slick skating and offensive game that has become all the more valuable in the new NHL. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 16. (NR) Jan Mursak, LW, 5th round, 141st overall, 2006 Entry Draft Mursak has forced himself on the top 25 list, as the Slovenian sniper has wowed the OHL this year, having no problem making an immediate impact with a stacked Saginaw Spirit team, leading the team in scoring and demonstrating his breath-taking skating and change of pace from his first shift. The Blues are cautiously optimistic his game will translate at the next level, although more time will be required to evaluate just what the Blues have in Mursak. HFNHL ETA: Long-term 17. (23) Danny Syvret, Trade with the Calgary Flames in 2007 The former junior star had trouble adapting to pro game last year, but has made major strides this year and brings the offensive skill-set the Blues need to round out their defensive prospect base. HFNHL ETA: 2008-2009. 18. (19) Fredrik Pettersson, LW, 5th round, 149th overall, 2005 Entry Draft This diminutive sparkplug has continued to bring a top level effort night in and night out, including for Team Sweden at the WJC, where he scored a key goal to force overtime against the U.S. That said, he is still considered a more than likely roll player given his small stature and only better than average skill set. “Freddy” is likely to be a fan favorite where ever he plays. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 19. (20) Derek LaPoint, 3rd round, 79th overall, 2006 Entry Draft A long-term project, LaPoint has become one of the USHL’s top defencemen as a rookie this year. However, it is after all the USHL. He is committed to North Dakota in the NCAA for 2007-2008. As Wisconsin’s high school player of the year last year, he has a tremendous skill-set and the Blues are anxious to see how he develops in the years to come. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 20. (14) Garth Murray, 3rd round, 82nd overall, 2001 Entry Draft Poised to graduate from prospect status this year, Murray is the consummate character player, but he has had trouble building off of his breakthrough season last year, in which he became a premiere checker and penalty killer at the NHL level. He remains a solid depth player and physical presence, but will likely not make it beyond the Blues 4th line. HFNHL ETA: 2007-2008, but will be a call-up this season. 21. (24) Jared Boll, 6th round, 159th overall, 2005 Entry Draft Like Murray, Boll can play somewhat of an enforcer roll as he does with Plymouth in the OHL, but he also brings a deft scoring touch he may be able to build on at the next level. He will need to work on his skating in order to score at the next level. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 22. (22) Michael Garnett, 2nd round, 58th overall, 2001 Entry Draft The subject of several trade rumours earlier this season, Garnett finds himself firmly behind Montoya at 4th on the Blues goaltending depth chart. The moving of LeNeveu for the younger Montoya, seems to have bough Garnett some time this year, as the Blues are more likely to call him up as a back-up in the HFNHL, so Montoya can continue his development as the #1 goalie with the Blues AHL farm club. HFNHL ETA: A call-up going forward... 23. (25) Timo Seppanen, 4th round, 111th overall, 2006 Entry draft Seppanen is an intriguing prospect who played with Teemu Laakso on the top pairing for the Finns at the recent WJC in order to build on his solid International resume. That said, he remains a suspect as much of a prospect, albeit with a decent upside. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. 24. (NR) Matt Caria, 6th round, 168th overall, 2006 Entry Draft As a player almost too young to be eligible for the draft last year, the Blues saw something in Caria and he has rewarded the team by emerging as one of the top scorers in the OHL with the St. Miles Majors this season. He slips into the top 25 and remains a prospect to keep an eye on. HFNHL ETA: Long-term 25. (21) Paul Bissonette, 3rd round, 82nd overall, 2003 Entry Draft Bissonette remains an enigma with the team, failing to progress after a stunning training camp performance a few years ago, Bissonette has hit a plateau in the AHL the past two years, seemingly unable to take that next step in becoming a defensive rock to anchor a team’s blueline, as he continues to see as much time in the ECHL. If he is unable to turn things around, this could be his last appearance in the Blues top 25. HFNHL ETA: Long-term. Honourable Mention: Zach Fitgerald, Tommi Leinonen, Denis Denisov, Richard Demen-Willaume, Eric Werner, Retiring: Nate Hagemo, 3rd round, 88th overall, 2005 Entry Draft The Blues were extremely disappointed Hagemo was forced to retire this year after a recurring should injury and rehab proved unsuccessfull. We wish him all the best in his future endevours.