HAZELWOOD, Mo. - After four days of grueling on-ice and off-ice workouts, another Blues Prospect Camp is in the books.
Twenty-six prospects got a taste of the big leagues, spending time in the weight room in the morning and on the ice in the afternoon.
“The next step is to get them to understand what it’s like to be a pro,” said Tim Taylor, the Blues Director of Player Development. “That’s not four days of work. It’s 24/7, 12 months a year. These guys are on track.”
Taylor knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in the NHL. As a player, he won two Stanley Cups and played in more than 700 NHL games, so we asked him to give us his thoughts on this year’s camp.
Here are five things we learned:
1. ROBBY FABBRI IS A STUD
Robby Fabbri, the Blues’ first-round pick in 2014, impressed again in his second Blues Prospect Camp. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound forward scored 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) in 30 games last season with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, but injuries derailed his season. Now healthy, it doesn’t appear he’s missed a beat.
Fabbri was flying around the ice this week and scored twice in Thursday’s final scrimmage.
“His work ethic is second to no one, and I think that’s why he succeeds on the ice,” Taylor said. “In 3-on-3, (defenseman Colton) Parayko, (forward Jaedon) Descheneau and Fabbri were pretty dynamic.”
2. THE DEFENSE IS STACKED
Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester may lead the Blues’ depth chart, but when you get past them, the Blues have a plethora of talented blue liners.
Petteri Lindbohm, Chris Butler, Joel Edmundson, Parayko, Jordan Schmaltz, Thomas Vannelli, Jake Walman, Vince Dunn…the list goes on and on.
“I don’t think there’s an organization that can compare to us now,” Taylor said. “We are backloaded with some great defenseman. They all can move the puck, there’s great skill. We’ve got that luxury right now. The next step is to develop them into NHL players.”
3. GOALIE INVITES IMPRESS
The Blues invited Oshawa Generals goaltenders Ken Appleby and Jeremy Brodeur to prospect camp this season. Taylor said at the start of camp he wanted to give both goaltenders a look.
Appleby led the OHL’s Generals to a Memorial Cup this season, while Brodeur won 13 of 19 games in his rookie season as Appleby’s backup.
“Coming off a championship, you always have to respect that because of the work that goes into it. Playing in those big games brings a wealth of experience,” Taylor said of Appleby. “And Jeremy came in with a great attitude. He had a lot of fun and now he’s a guy we’re thinking of bringing to Traverse City.”
Appleby was 38-7-4 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage last season. He will attend the New Jersey Devils’ prospect camp next week. Brodeur, the son of Blues Assistant GM Martin Brodeur, was 13-4-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .900 save-percentage.
4. GATEWAY KARTPLEX IS A BLAST
After a hard first day of practice, all 26 prospects spent Monday evening unwinding by cutting tight corners at high speeds at Gateway Kartplex in Madison, IL.
Niko Mikkola, the Blues’ fifth round pick (No. 127 overall) in June, registered the fastest lap at 40.1 seconds.
If you missed it, we talked Vince Dunn into wearing a GoPro. Check out the footage below.
5. ST. LOUIS LOVES ITS HOCKEY
Four days of Prospect Camp meant four days of a jam-packed Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall. And each day, fans who couldn’t find seats stood along the perimeter of the rink to watch.
“I didn’t have the luxury of playing in St. Louis, but I know it’s a very passionate fan base,” Taylor said. “It’s very nice to see the fans come out and support these kids. To come out there in your first training camp so to speak and it’s a packed house…The passion the fans have for their team is pretty unique.”
Which leads us to one question - is it October yet?