Saturday, August 6, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues are next. They've got a reasonable sized group of OHL prospects, including a couple potential gems in there.

1. Vince Dunn - Niagara IceDogs
Sort of a tough season for Dunn, but I don't think it should take anything away from his value as a prospect. Battled some injuries this year, including knee and wrist injuries which kept him from participating (potentially) at the WJC's, and also forced him to miss a good chunk of the OHL playoffs. His skating ability remains his biggest asset. It allows him to take chances offensively without sacrificing defensive involvement. He works very hard to get back to the defensive zone when he attacks offensively and he should be commended for that. I think that he has taken some strides defensively over the course of his OHL career, improving his positioning in zone coverage and playing with more jam in his own end. Offensively, there's never really been any issue. He's a dynamic player. Did Dunn progress a lot this year? Probably not. But he certainly didn't take any steps backward. He'll turn pro next year and should be ready to be a solid AHL contributor. I'd expect him to be around 35 points. Jordan Subban and Anthony DeAngelo did that (and more) as AHL rookies this past year and Dunn is every bit as talented as them.

2. Jordan Kyrou - Sarnia Sting
Great selection by the Blues. Kyrou is a ball of energy. He's one of the OHL's best skaters and it makes him an absolutely dynamic playmaker off the rush. He can be a bit inconsistent, but I think that has to do with needing to add strength. While I don't see him as a perimeter player, he does need to be better operating in traffic. He also needs to utilize his shot more, as he has a good one, but can have a tendency to overhandle the puck at the OHL level. As he gains confidence, this is something that should be rectified. As a two way player, I think he's already come a long way. He can exhibit a ton of effort in retrieving lost pucks, but again, added strength is required to allow him to really use his speed to be a strong defensive player (and penalty killer). All in all, you're looking at a player who had 51 points this year, but only 6 on the powerplay. As he gets more and more ice time, the numbers should really jump. And that should be next year. I'd expect him to be over 75+ points and could be a candidate for a spot on the Canadian WJC team.

3. Luke Opilka - Kitchener Rangers
Tale of two seasons for Opilka. He started off very strong and I was really impressed with my early season viewings of him. I saw a goaltender with a really high compete level who never seemed to give up on the play and made a lot of acrobatic saves. Opilka is definitely a strong athlete. But then came the mysterious illness that plagued him over the holiday season and upon returning, he just wasn't the same. He didn't look as quick and as such, he got exposed a lot for being out of position. His confidence eventually disappeared and he really fought the puck late in the year, causing him to lose his starting job for the playoffs. Next year, I'd expect him to return to the OHL confident, strong, and healthy. As such, I think he'll have a good year for a Rangers team that should compete for home ice advantage in the first round. A .915 save % should be a good target.

4. Dmitri Sergeev - Kitchener Rangers
Another Blues prospect that had a tough year in regards to injuries. Sergeev missed chunks of time with knee and shoulder injuries. At this point, I think you need to look at Sergeev as strictly a stay at home type defender. His offensive game never really developed at this level. While he can make a good first pass, and occasionally uses his mobility to bring the puck out, he seems most comfortable making the safe play or letting his defensive partner start the breakout. Sergeev does excel at times in his own end, utilizing good mobility to stay ahead of attacking forwards. And he can play pretty physical at times (although this is an area of his game that needs more consistency). Sergeev should move on to the pro level this year and I'd expect him to spend time in both the AHL and ECHL as he adjusts to the speed of the pro game.

5. Liam Dunda - Owen Sound Attack
Dunda is a true lunchpail type of player who uses his size to be effective along the boards, as he tries to work hard to tire out the opposition. He can be a factor on the forecheck, but not consistently. Offensively, he's not afraid to stand in front of the net, but the hands and confidence in his release just aren't there yet. Needless to say, this upcoming season is a make or break year for Dunda and the Blues organization. He needs to show growth as an offensive player in order to earn a contract. Owen Sound should have a good team next year, but they are graduating some key offensive contributors. Dunda will have a chance to earn a top 6 spot in the lineup, but it seems more and more likely that he falls back to a bottom six role. Of course, a 20/20 season is possible, but he'd have to grow a lot as a player for that to happen.

*Filip Helt - Sarnia Sting
A relative unknown right now, Helt apparently showed well at Blues prospect camp. Already announced that he'll be in Sarnia next year, where he has a chance to earn a good amount of playing time if he can prove a worthy offensive contributor. A prediction at this point just isn't possible given how little is known about him. But I am certainly intrigued to see him play.

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