St. Louis Blues Midseason Top 10 Prospects for 2022-23


Although it’s not overly strong (18th in The Hockey Writers’ midseason rankings), the St. Louis Blues continue to have a deep prospect pool despite not picking in the top half of the first round since 2014, when they drafted two franchise stalwarts in Jaden Schwartz (14) and Vladimir Tarasenko (16). As the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline approaches, the Blues have found themselves in the difficult position of being a seller. It’s fairly evident now that this current NHL roster is not good enough to compete for a playoff spot, and a rebuild (or retool) is coming sooner rather than later.

St. Louis Blues Midseason Top 10 Prospects Jimmy Snuggerud, Jake Neighbours, and Zachary Bolduc
Zachary Bolduc, Jake Neighbours, Jimmy Snuggerud (The Hockey Writers)

Unrestricted free agents (UFA) Ryan O’Reilly and Tarasenko are general manager Doug Armstrong’s most valuable trade chips with the trade deadline three-plus weeks away. The return for players of their caliber will likely be a young top-end talent that can help the franchise through either a retool or a full-fledged rebuild. If such moves are made, the prospects they receive in return should easily crack this list.

Related: St. Louis Blues Top 10 Prospects for 2022-23

My rankings are based on the player’s age (under 25 years old), NHL games played (less than 30), overall potential, and performance throughout the season. Here are the Blues’ top 10 midseason prospects for 2022-23.

10. Tyler Tucker

Defenseman, 2018 round 7, 200th overall, 22 years old

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Potential: 6/7 Defenseman

Injuries have allowed Tyler Tucker to make his NHL debut this season for the Blues. In 12 games with the big club, he’s logged one assist, 10 penalty minutes (PIM), and is a minus-1 while spending most of his time on the third defensive pairing. Tucker is a physical, solid hockey IQ while playing in the opponent’s face, he’s best utilized as a stay-at-home defender who can be useful in five-on-five and the penalty kill (PK). Once the Blues potentially get Marco Scandella and/or Scott Perunovich back, Tucker will likely be reassigned to the American Hockey League (AHL) to get more playing time and refine his game.

NHL ETA: 2022-23

*Already made NHL debut

9. Michael Buchinger

Defenseman, 2022 round 3, 88th overall, 18 years old

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Potential: Top 6 Defenseman

Michael Buchinger Guelph Storm
Michael Buchinger, Guelph Storm (Luke Durda/OHL Images)

In his draft year, Michael Buchinger was a consensus top-100 talent when the Blues landed him with the 88th pick. Seen as a steal as far as draft value is concerned, Buchinger has been one of the better-scoring defensemen in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Guelph Storm. In 41 games, he’s fifth among all defenders with 41 points (10 goals) and third among all skaters in power-play assists with 21. He’s an offensive-minded player who is a great skater and playmaker, both in five-on-five and the power play, and can hold his own defensively. He hasn’t signed his entry-level deal with the Blues yet, but that will surely change after this season or the next.

NHL ETA: 2026-27

8. Simon Robertsson

Right wing, 2021 round 3, 71st overall, 19 years old

Previous Ranking: 9

Potential: Top 9 Winger

Even though he hasn’t quite put up the numbers thus far that many thought he would, Simon Robertsson is still a highly regarded prospect around hockey. He made Sweden’s roster for the World Junior Championship, logging two points (one goal) in seven games as the team finished fourth in the tournament. In 16 games for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), the right winger put up decent numbers (five goals, two assists) before being loaned to Västerås, a second-tier team in the Hockeyallsvenskan league.

Robertsson has good speed and is aggressive with the puck, with both skills pairing well with his quick-release high-quality shot. These are the traits that lead many scouts into believing he should be able to score at the NHL level. His forechecking is solid as well, allowing him to be a playmaking threat even without the puck. He’ll need to continue to develop for the next season or two, likely needing a season or so in the AHL before he’s ready for St. Louis.

NHL ETA: 2025-26

7. Noah Beck

Defenseman, 2020 round 7, 194th overall, 21 years old

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Potential: Top 6 Defenseman

Coming in at 6-foot-3 and 191 pounds, Noah Beck already possesses the ideal size of an NHL blueliner. He’s spent the last three seasons since being drafted at Clarkson University, where he’s been a very solid and projectible two-way defender. In 26 games this season, he’s third on the team in scoring with 18 points (five goals). He doesn’t use his size much in terms of physicality. In turn, he utilizes his size and length to be more of a disrupter in the neutral and defensive zones. Offensively, he’s smooth with the puck and is more than comfortable jumping into the play when needed. The Blues prospect pool is thin on right-shot defenders, but Beck has been strong in the NCAA and should get an entry-level deal this summer and see time in Springfield.

NHL ETA: 2024-25

6. Nikita Alexandrov

Center, 2019 round 2, 31st overall, 22 years old

Previous Ranking: 8

Potential: Middle 6 Center

Nikita Alexandrov was turning heads in camp this preseason before eventually earning some time with the big club (18 games, three goals, two assists). With the Blues, he’s been used mostly on the fourth line, where his steady-yet-aggressive play consistently brings energy. He’s been solid on both the forecheck and backcheck in his young NHL career, but he’s also been doing his job defensively as evidenced by his plus-5 rating.

Nikita Alexandrov St. Louis Blues
Nikita Alexandrov, St. Louis Blues (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

He’s a solid 200-foot player, showing enough speed, power, and skill to be a legitimate player in the NHL. He doesn’t really have one skill that shines above the rest, so he likely projects more as a role player or depth piece at the highest level who can contribute to his team. He’s been splitting time between Springfield and St. Louis this season but should get a bigger role with the big club once the trade deadline passes.

NHL ETA: 2022-23

*Already made NHL debut

5. Scott Perunovich

Defenseman, 2018 round 2, 45th overall, 24 years old

Previous Ranking: 2

Potential: Top 4 Defenseman

You can’t help but feel bad for Scott Perunovich. The 2022-23 season was supposed to be the one in which he played a significant role for the Blues, especially after fellow lefty-defender Marco Scandella went down with a hip injury at the beginning of camp. But shortly thereafter, only a few games into the preseason, Perunovich was sidelined with a shoulder injury. He’s been skating with the team since early January but is still nowhere near ready to return. If and when he does, I would imagine he’ll be assigned to Springfield for conditioning.

Related: Revisiting Doug Armstrong’s Drafts – 2020

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When he’s not hurt, Perunovich is an offensive threat and a true power-play quarterback. His skating, vision, and ability to make high-quality tape-to-tape passes consistently are the most eye-popping traits that make it easy to see him as a top-four NHL defender when he’s healthy. He’s lacking defensively, and at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, he can be exposed when his side is attacked, something he will surely need to improve upon once he recovers.

NHL ETA: 2024

*Already made NHL debut

4. Joel Hofer

Goalie, 2018 round 4, 107th overall, 22 years old

Previous Ranking: 5

Potential: Backup/1B Goaltender

Joel Hofer has been the main starter for the Springfield Thunderbirds this season, compiling a record of 16-10-4 in 30 starts with 2.57 goals against average (GAA) and a .917 save percentage (SV%). He already possesses NHL size at 6-foot-5 and 179 pounds (although he could add weight as his frame allows) and is beginning to show signs that his skills are nearing NHL readiness as well. His tall frame and quickness allow him to stay square to the puck and cover most of the net without having to challenge shooters too much outside of the crease.

Joel Hofer Springfield Thunderbirds
Joel Hofer, Springfield Thunderbirds (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Hofer signed a two-year, one-way contract extension with the Blues in January and chosen to represent Springfield at the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic just a few days later. With Thomas Greiss being in St. Louis on a one-year deal this season and no other clear-cut competitors in his way, Hofer appears to be in an optimal position to be Jordan Binnington’s backup in 2023-24.

NHL ETA: 2023-24

*Already made NHL debut

3. Jake Neighbours

Left wing, 2020 round 1, 26th overall, 20 years old

Previous Ranking: 4

Potential: Top 9 Winger

After getting off to a slow start with the Blues early on this season, which led to him being reassigned to the AHL, Jake Neighbours seems to have found some footing in his latest call-up with the big club. Since Jan. 3, he’s scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in 14 games as he settles into a more regular role for a player of his current and projected skillset.

Neighbours still projects to be more of a middle-six winger at the NHL level. His greatest skills are his aggressiveness on both the forecheck and backcheck and his heavy playstyle, using his body more than his stick to help create and drive scoring chances. He’s skilled enough to be a 50-plus point player at the highest level once he establishes more of a permanent role with the Blues, which should happen as this season plays out and into 2023-24.

NHL ETA: 2022-23

*Already made NHL debut

2. Zachary Bolduc

Center, 2021 round 1, 17th overall, 19 years old

Previous Ranking: 1

Potential: Top 6 Center/Winger

Zachary Bolduc tore up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) last season when he scored 99 points in 65 games. So far this season, the 19-year-old is proving to be even more dominant. In 43 games with the Québec Remparts, he’s already registered 80 points (tied for second in QMJHL), while his 50 assists rank him second in the league as well. He’s currently on pace for a 115-point season.

Zachary Bolduc Quebec Remparts
Zachary Bolduc, Quebec Remparts (Jonathan Roy/Quebec Remparts)

There’s no doubt that Bolduc has the skill to be a regular, top-of-the-lineup forward at the NHL level within the next season or two. He’s always been a smooth and savvy skater who impresses scouts equally as much without the puck as he does with it. Bolduc may hit best in the NHL as a winger thanks to his ability to be creative as a playmaker and his quick wrister and one-timer, but he also deserves credit for his usefulness defensively as well. He plays a full game and is getting ice time in all situations for the Remparts. He’ll be an interesting name to watch at training camp next season.

NHL ETA: 2024-25

1. Jimmy Snuggerud

Right wing, 2022 round 1, 23rd overall, 18 years old

Previous Ranking: 3

Potential: Top 6 Winger

Outside of Connor Bedard, no player was as electric in the WJC as Jimmy Snuggerud, scoring 13 points (five goals) in seven games as Team USA finished third in the tournament. As impressive as he was on the world stage, he’s been equally as impressive as the leading scorer for the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the NCAA. He’s tallied 37 points (16 goals) in 28 games, as he and fellow top prospects Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies have led their team to the best record in the country (20-7-1).

What’s next for Blues prospect Jimmy Snuggerud after impressing during World Juniors?
“I think it’s just whether I’m ready or not, whether I’ve developed enough to be an impactful pro player.”
WJC mixtape below, story here: https://t.co/UcTiv2UaHY https://t.co/iPkncU9seO

Snuggerud has worked hard this season for Minnesota to improve all aspects of his game. He was already a plus-shooter with plenty of playmaking skill and a high Hockey IQ, but his biggest knock was his below-average skating, which has already been turned to at least average in his short time in Minneapolis, MN. He’s shown the ability to hunt and play pucks from below the goal line to the slot, as well as having a dangerous wrister from the left side of the power play – something the Blues lost in David Perron.

Seen as an underrated pick at the time the Blues got him at 23rd overall in 2022, Snuggerud may turn out to be one of the biggest steals from that draft class. Time will tell if he plays another season at the college level, as some think he could make the jump to the pros if multiple pieces of Minnesota’s talented roster opt to make the transition as well. He’s got the makings of a franchise-type player who should be an All-Star at some point in his career.

NHL ETA: 2024-25

Next Five (alphabetical order)

Aleksanteri Kaskimäki – Forward

Matt Kessel – Defenseman

Leo Lööf – Defenseman

Vadim Zherenko – Goalie

Final Thoughts

Snuggerud and Bolduc would be near the top of many teams’ systems, so having them in the fold gives the Blues two legitimate top-line potential forwards who can score. Past them, the forward depth is a bit lacking at the moment. Defensively, Buchinger and Beck are having tremendous seasons and seem to have NHL-caliber ceilings. In net, while there isn’t a top-tier goalie prospect in the system, Hofer and Zherenko both project to at least be potential backups in the future. Their prospect pool is full of depth and role players but could use an injection of talent that should come via the trade deadline and draft this summer.

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