Player development becomes more important for the Blues as retooling looms

Blues Jimmy Snuggerud prospect You’ll shoot the disc.

Taking part in for Workforce USA on the World Junior Championships In Halifax, Nova Scotia, he tried 15 photographs in opposition to Latvia on December 26. fifteen! Snuggerud had 11 scoring alternatives and made seven clear offensive zone entries in that recreation.

He adopted that up with a aim and three assists in Workforce USA’s 6-2 victory over Finland on Friday. Snuggerud generates optimistic buzz amongst impartial analysts on the occasion.

World Junior Championship Switzerland USA Hockey

Jimmy Sngerud of the USA and Switzerland’s Dario Seidler run in entrance of the web throughout interval two of the IIHJ World Junior Hockey Championships Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Moncton, New Brunswick. (Ron Ward/The Canadian Press through AP)

Ron Ward

Blues followers ought to heed this promise as they watched their staff’s struggles with their eyes open What would possibly occur subsequent.

Individuals additionally learn…

Relocation is inevitable for this franchise. Whereas Blues common supervisor Doug Armstrong stays hopeful his injury-hit staff can muster a operating again this season, he stands prepared to hurry up the retooling course of if that does not occur.

Armstrong has been impressed by the sturdy staff tradition that has saved the Springfield Thunderbirds, USA hockey’s Blues affiliate, aggressive this season within the face of accidents.

This can be a stark distinction to the Blues’ recreation, which deteriorated. Armstrong’s unwillingness to disclose the probabilities of that atmosphere this season was telling.

Gamers with expired contracts could transfer elsewhere previous to the commerce deadline as Armstrong begins adjusting the staff’s lineup. The Blues have a handful of promising prospects, however they have to purchase extra to strengthen their expertise base in the long run.

Blues exploration

Blues prospect Nikita Alexandrov, 32, tackles the puck throughout practices on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, throughout Blues prospect camp on the Enterprise Middle.

Publish-submission picture

Within the close to time period, forwards Jake Nebors and Nikita Alexandrov and defender Tyler Tucker will take a look at themselves on the NHL stage after key forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly be a part of defender Tore Krug on the injured listing. Later within the season, defenseman Scott Perunovich will try to finish one other comeback from one other damage.

Snuggerud and Zachary Bolduc are long-term aspirants For a staff that wants extra firepower up entrance. The Blues will hope to carve their approach right into a long-term institution with key forwards Jordan Keiro and Robert Thomas.

“What you wish to do is management expectations. Singerud is having a fantastic yr. Bolduc is having an excellent yr, jake (neighbors) … However they’re 20, 19, 18 years previous,” Armstrong instructed reporters. “And so their influence will are available two or three years, which might be excellent for this group, as a result of Thomas and Kyro are nonetheless on their method to attaining absolute stability in That stage.”

The Blues drafted Snuggerud #22 within the NHL draft final season. He is a right-handed winger – like left-back David Peron – and has good instincts.

After two productive seasons with the US Nationwide Growth Workforce, Snuggerud scored 12 targets in his first 20 video games on the College of Minnesota of the season and 4 targets in his first 4 video games on the WJC.

Scouts have lengthy cited his skill to make performs and retrieve the offensive puck as nicely—these are objects the Blues ought to add to future rosters. Whereas Snuggerud is not as transformative a prospect as Conor Bedard, a probable first general decide this yr, he might fill a necessity.

Neighbours, the twenty sixth general decide in 2020, is one other grasp piece. He bought his boost this season whereas enjoying the large AHL minutes on the wing, and he started to construct extra offensive confidence as he scored seven targets and two assists in his final 9 video games.

Given Armstrong’s warning in opposition to rising expectations, we can’t repeat that he has Scott Mellanby-like potential as an influence ahead.

Bolduc, the seventeenth general decide in 2021, places up the insane numbers one would anticipate a talented ahead to submit within the Quebec Main League Hockey League. He had 22 targets and 33 assists within the 29 video games he performed this season.

It will likely be attention-grabbing to see how he performs within the upcoming Blues coaching camp with added bodily and emotional maturity. Can he strengthen his recreation away from the puck? How lengthy will he want within the AHL?

Aleksandrov turned an influence participant within the second yr within the AHL, and didn’t look misplaced within the NHL. However the Blues have to verify he is totally developed earlier than he graduates.

Identical goes for Tucker, who offers the battle Robert Bortuzzo provides to the blue line. He might make it No. 6/No. 7 protection if he provides sufficient polish.

Goaltender Joel Hoover seems to be taking these last steps for the Thunderbirds this season whereas enjoying behind a staff with a strong defensive construction however not loads of firepower.

“A man like Joel Hoover, he is been nice within the NHL this yr,” Armstrong mentioned. “You have a look at his numbers, it is off the charts. Once more, enjoying in opposition to a staff who do not rating for them however play down the suitable flank. So there are loads of positives with a few of these youthful gamers that we are able to construct on. However it’s a must to management expectations.”

Armstrong additionally reminds us what it takes to make that transition. Sustaining competitors by way of the method shall be tough.

He mentioned, “Like Kero, the place he’s right this moment and the place he was at 19, 20, 21 years previous, you’ll be able to’t rush time and you’ll’t rush expertise.”

Jake Neighbors of the St. Louis Blues on Monday, July 11, 2022 predicts what it takes to make a Blues roster and succeed within the NHL. Video offered by St. Louis Blues.

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