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Allen Leads Blues' Top 10 Prospects

by Adam Kimelman / St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues have two things going for them: they're highly skilled up and down the roster and their top players still have their best years ahead of them.

However, that makes it very difficult for any young player looking to break into the lineup.

"It's a tough situation for a young player coming in," Blues director of player development Tim Taylor told "We can be very easygoing with them and patient with players to develop because we don't need them to step in and be a big part of the team. We let them mature and when they're ready, and we feel they're ready, they can step in."

A few of those players might be ready this season, but the majority will have to bide their time while refining their game at lower levels.

Here's a look at the Blues' top 10 prospects, according to

1. Jake Allen, G

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 34), 2008 draft

Last season: 52 GP, 33-16-3, 2.03 GAA, .928 SVP, 7 SO, Chicago, AHL

After being named the best goaltender in the American Hockey League last season, it's obvious the 23-year-old is ready for a full-time job in the NHL. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound goaltender will start the season in St. Louis in a platoon with veteran Brian Elliott.

"He's spent four years in the minors and a little time in the NHL," Taylor said. "He's seasoned and ready to go. His maturity level is at a good spot right now. We think he can handle the pressure and everyday life of an NHL player. He's going to push Brian Elliott."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

2. Ty Rattie, RW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 32), 2011 draft

Last season: 72 GP, 31-17-48, Chicago, AHL

Rattie, 21, certainly didn't look like a player going through his first full season of professional hockey. He tied for fourth in the AHL in goals and for eighth among rookies in points. To make the jump to the next level, the 6-foot, 178-pound forward needs to add strength and consistency to his game.

"He knows what he has to do this summer," Taylor said. "He has to put a little weight on, some muscle, and he has to be ready to compete every day, every time he's on the ice, for loose pucks and battles. … Ty has to work on that, being strong on the puck, winning battles, and coaches will put him in situations where he can succeed offensively too."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15


The Blues made several changes this summer, including signing St. Louis native Paul Stastny and 2008 draft pick Jori Lehtera.
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Allen Leads List of Blues Prospects

3. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 41), 2011 draft

Last season: 42 GP, 15-14-29, Chicago, AHL; 18 GP 1-1-2, St. Louis

Like Rattie, 21-year-old Jaskin made a smooth transition in his first full professional season; he also impressed enough to play 18 games in the NHL. For Taylor, what stands out about Jaskin is his size (6-2, 196), physicality and versatility, but there's one particular area that needs to be improved if Jaskin is to earn full-time NHL employment.

"He can be a top-six forward and he can be very beneficial to the bottom-six," Taylor said. "He's a big, physical forward. He plays physical, he's always around the puck. The thing we're looking for this summer … is getting that extra step. He's going through some skating lessons with Sean Ferrell, our video coach, and he's working on that. He's a very committed player.

"He's a guy that I would assume will get a lot of games in the NHL this year. It depends on his summer and his growth in his skating."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

4. Robby Fabbri, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 21), 2014 draft

Last season: 58 GP, 45-42-87, plus-45, Guelph, OHL

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound forward got better as the season went on, with 13 goals and 28 points in 16 Ontario Hockey League playoff games to win the postseason MVP award and help Guelph reach the Memorial Cup. Watching Fabbri, 18, at development camp, Taylor said he was reminded of a teammate from his playing days.

"He's a guy that reminds me a little bit of Marty St. Louis," said Taylor, who played with St. Louis during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. "He's smaller, but he's always on the puck. He doesn't wait for the puck to come to him. He's always going after it and getting it. He demands the puck. That's the one thing, if you're a little smaller player you've got to be on the puck and you have to go to the hard scoring areas. … I see some similarities in his worth ethic, around the puck, on the puck, and his maturity level with the puck. He makes smart decisions. He's creative. He goes to those areas. He's not afraid to get in there and get the puck. He's always on it."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

5. Jordan Binnington, G

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 88), 2011 draft

Last season: 40 GP, 23-13-3, 2.35 GAA, .922 SV%, Kalamazoo, ECHL

Don't let the fact that he spent the season in the ECHL fool you: Binnington, 21, is a top goaltending prospect who the Blues felt needed playing time, not bench time backing up Allen in the AHL. With Allen's elevation to the Blues, Binnington will enter this season as the starter with the Chicago Wolves. The goal for him is to get strong enough to hold up to the rigors of being the No. 1 goalie in the AHL.

"Jordan is in that position where he has to get stronger (6-1, 167) and he has to get bigger," Taylor said. "Goalies now, they don't just throw them in the net. They're pretty good athletes now. They're very athletic, they move. That old time when a goalie didn't have their skates sharpened is a thing of the past. They have edges on their skates, they move side to side, their agility, their quickness. Everything about a goalie now is very athletic and that's one thing that Jordan has to get stronger this year to get himself to that standard."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

6. Jordan Schmaltz, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 25), 2012 draft

Last season: 41 GP, 6-18-24, North Dakota, NCHC

Schmaltz was better as a sophomore than as a freshman, and the Blues hope that trajectory continues upward as the 6-2, 190-pound defenseman enters his third college season at age 20.

"Last year he took a step forward and his personality changed a little bit on the ice," Taylor said. "He was more aggressive, he controlled the game a little more. With his defense partner [Dillon] Simpson turning pro, now Jordan is going to be the man. It's going to be a good year for him. He's pretty excited about it. His brother [Nick Schmaltz] is coming in to play with him. We had him at development camp and he was outstanding. I thought he really controlled the play. We had 3-on-3 games, and every time he was on the ice he created something."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

7. Thomas Vannelli, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 47), 2013 draft

Last season: 60 GP, 14-27-41, Medicine Hat, WHL

After taking summer classes at the University of Minnesota, Vannelli, 19, opted to jump to the Western Hockey League. It ended up being a strong decision for him from a development standpoint.

"He's come a long way since we drafted him," Taylor said. "He's put on some good weight (6-2, 165), he's matured. It was a good situation for him last year in Medicine Hat and it's going to be a good situation for him this season. He's going to play a lot of minutes, he's going to be demanded to log a ton of minutes and be a leader for that team. It's a good situation for him to mature as a player. Another year in the Western Hockey League will do him good."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

8. Joel Edmundson, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 46), 2011 draft

Last season: 64 GP, 4-4-8, 108 PIM, Chicago, AHL

The Blues' trade of defenseman Roman Polak has left an open spot for a physical defenseman, and the 6-foot-4, 207-pound 21-year-old could be a reliable replacement.

"The only thing missing from his game is that consistently being hard on the puck," Taylor said. "Once he gets that, he's going to spend a lot of time in the NHL. … He moves the puck well, we just want him to be consistently hard on players and make it a tough day for everyone. He's got that in him and we'd like to see it every day."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

9. Ivan Barbashev, C/LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 33), 2014 draft

Last season: 48 GP, 25-43-68, Moncton, QMJHL

Much like Fabbri, the Blues were pleasantly surprised that Barbashev remained on the board when their turn came up in the second round of the draft. The 18-year-old power forward (6-foot, 180) had two points in seven games to help Russia win a bronze medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship and 10 points in six Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff games.

"We feel he's a North American-style player," Taylor said. "He's a guy that's going to run through you. He's a guy that likes the physical play. When the game is on the line, he's not going to fade away; he's going to step to the forefront and score a big goal or make a big play. We like his physical nature and how he's on the puck and he's not afraid to go into those areas. He initiates. He's skilled but he's a power forward. We like he's got another year of junior to develop. … He's got to put some strong muscle on him. If he wants to play that game that we drafted him for, he's got to put some weight on to compete against NHL players."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

10. Colton Parayko, D

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 86), 2012 draft

Last season: 37 GP, 7-19-26, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, WCHA

The first time the Blues measured Parayko, he was 6-foot-4, 199 pounds. When he came to St. Louis for the team's development camp, he was up to 222 pounds with 3 percent body fat. That level of conditioning, combined with a strong skill set, has management very happy with the 21-year-old emerging prospect.

"There's nothing not to like [about his game]," Taylor said. "He's in a great situation where he's playing, he's logging a ton of minutes, he's learning the game, he's getting bigger, getting stronger. His legs need a bit of extra weight to carry that big body. He's got a great shot. He's offensively minded, he's in great position all the time. He understands how big he is and he doesn’t chase the game, he lets the game come to him. We're very excited about his progress and where he's at."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

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