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31 in 31

Top prospects for St. Louis Blues

Barbashev, Sanford expected to make impact this season

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the St. Louis Blues.

The St. Louis Blues will continue their long-term plan of building from within by developing young players in hopes of winning the first Stanley Cup championship in their history. 

For that plan to work, it's imperative for their top NHL Draft picks to develop accordingly, including two first-round selections in the 2017 NHL Draft, center Robert Thomas (No. 20) and Klim Kostin (No. 31).

 

[BLUES 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Blues' top five prospects, according to NHL.com: 

 

1. Ivan Barbashev, C 

How acquired: Selected with No. 33 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: St. Louis: 30 GP, 5-12-17; Chicago (AHL): 46 GP, 19-18-37

Barbashev, 21, had his breakout season with Chicago of the American Hockey League last season under coach Craig Berube, now the Blues associate coach. When promoted to the NHL, Barbashev impressed enough to be trusted to play alongside top-line players, including forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.

Barbashev (6-foot, 180 pounds), who had no points in six Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, had 65 points (29 goals, 36 assists) in two AHL seasons and gives the Blues a combination of skill and strength with the ability to play the wing when called upon, as he did last season.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: STL@CAR: Barbashev notches a goal 26 seconds in

 

2. Zach Sanford, LW

How acquired: Trade with Washington Capitals on Feb. 27, 2017

Last season: St. Louis: 13 GP, 2-3-5; Washington: 26 GP, 2-1-3; Hershey (AHL): 25 GP, 11-5-16

Sanford, 22, was the prime acquisition in the trade that sent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals. Sanford (6-4, 203) was given a chance to showcase his skill last season and played in four playoff games with no points.

The Blues are hoping Sanford can fill a power forward role that was a void last season after the departures of David Backes to the Boston Bruins and Troy Brouwer to the Calgary Flames following the 2015-16 season. Sanford's speed and strong puck-possession play is what the Blues covet, and he will fight for a top-nine role.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: COL@STL: Sanford wires a wrist shot past Pickard

 

3. Jordan Kyrou, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 35 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Chicago (AHL): 1 GP, 0-0-0; Sarnia (OHL): 66 GP, 30-64-94

Kyrou, 19, rapidly climbed the organizational depth chart after his 30-game point streak (17 goals, 35 assists) with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League last season. Kyrou (6-0, 175) is quick and has poise with the puck, modeling his game after former Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk.

"I try to take away [Datsyuk's] smarts and his skills and try to add that to my game," Kyrou said during Blues development camp in June. "The NHL's becoming a faster game."

Kyrou, who attended Canada national junior team development camp Aug. 3-7, had 181 points (60 goals, 121 assists) in 194 games over three OHL seasons.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

4. Jordan Schmaltz, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 25 pick in 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: St. Louis: 9 GP, 0-2-2; Chicago (AHL): 42 GP, 3-22-25

Schmaltz, 23, got a taste of the NHL for the first time last season and played in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild.

Schmaltz (6-2, 190) has a shot at making the opening night roster as the seventh defenseman but will face competition from Nate Prosser, who the Blues signed to a two-year, $1.3 million contract ($650,000 average annual value) on Aug. 3. Schmaltz had 61 points (nine goals, 52 assists) in 113 AHL games the past two seasons.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: STL@FLA: Berglund tips home Schmaltz's pass for PPG

 

5. Tage Thompson

How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Chicago (AHL): 16 GP, 1-1-2; Connecticut (NCAA): 34 GP, 19-13-32

Thompson, 19, completed a strong two-year run at the University of Connecticut but experienced some growing pains during a short stint in the AHL at the end of last season. 

The Blues feel Thompson can benefit from a full year in the AHL, but they like his big body (6-5, 185) and ability to be a strong two-way center with solid puck-handling tendencies.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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