You may call this St. Louis bias, and I am going to understand anybody thinking that, but I can tell you that I am more of a sports fan than I am any team fan. I look at each league as a whole, and you will notice that I do not write about one team all the time. I wouldn’t call it STL bias; I would just call it noticing things that the people outside of Missouri would not.
Today, the Blues announced that they have signed not one, not two, but three of the NHL’s top forward prospects. These guys aren’t just run in the mill prospects; they are 18 and 19 year olds that are on their way to being NHL stars.
It just shows how big the Detroit game was last week. Before that game, we were set to trade for former Blue defenseman and NHL vet, Chris Pronger. Pronger is one of the best in the league at his position and I am sure all Blues know all about that. The trade would have put us in great position for a playoff run.
Before the game, even the Blues coaches and officials agreed that the Red Wings game would dictate exactly which way we would head. If we won, we would trade for Pronger and gear up for the postseason. With the loss, we would still be striving for the playoffs, but we would take a more “for the future” approach. Well you could definitely say that after the Blues signed big-time prospects Phillip McRae, Anthony Peluso, and Brett Stonne.
Eighteen year old McRae was drafted by the Blues as the 33rd overall pick in the second round of last year’s draft. Since then, Phillip has been playing with the St. Louis affiliate in the Ontario Hockey League – London Knights. In 57 total games, McRae had registered 60 points (29 goals, 31 assists). He was part of the Western Conference All-Star team in the OHL this season, and is known to be an elite player in the league.
Peluso, 19, was drafted in the sixth round by the Blues in the 2007 Entry Draft. Anthony is certainly a scorer (19 goals this season), but was regarded more of as a scrapper and a fighter in the OHL when he played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Brampton Battalion. He recorded 123 penalty minutes this year in the OHL, which ranked among the “best” in the entire league.
We saved the best for last. At the age of 19, Brett Sonne has proved he is one of the best young hockey players in the world. In a different league that McRae and Peluso, he is considered one of the best – if the best – players in his respective league (Western Hockey League). He was drafted in the same draft as Peluso in 2007, but as the 3rd round pick. A native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Sonne has played in 60 games this season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, and ranks third in the league in points (97), second in goals (47) and tied for 12th in assists (50). Yeah, he’s way good.
With today’s signees, STL has solidified themselves as arguable the NHL’s team with the best young talent and potential. The coach of Peluso, who knows more about all three of these guys than anyone, says that the three players – especially Sonne – could be a NHL All-Star within the next few years.
I will be the first to admit that hockey is not my expertise and I need to follow it more, but I know when I see young talent. I watch the Blues often, and I will be the first to tell you that the guys we currently have… will lead us to Stanley Cups in the next 10-15 years that this crop is with us. We have one of the best rookies in the league in Patrik Berglund, who is also leading the Blues with a 17 +/- ratio. Our leader in points, goals, game-winning goals, and assists, Brad Boyes, is 26 years old. Center Jay McClement, who has three shorthanded goals, is 26. David Backes is probably our second best player at the age of 24! Fan favorite T.J. Oshie is becoming a fantastic clutch player at 22. 6’7” brute Ben Bishop, the goalie of the future for St. Louis, is 22 years old and has a GAA of three as a rookie. Our “bouncer”, if you will, Cam Janssen is just a 24 year old rookie. Oh yeah, that’s not even mentioning our group of solid, young defensemen that include Eric Brewer (29), Barret Jackman (28), and No. 1 draft pick Erik Johnson (20). This sums it up: We are currently the first team OUT of the playoffs, and our average age is 23 years and 8 months.
Again, I am no Barry Melrose, but I do know young talent when I see it. This Blues team has potential like you would not believe. McRae, Peluso, and Sonne only build a stronger foundation for the next decade or so. I have said it before, and I will say it again… With this group of young stars, the St. Louis Blues will win Stanley Cups in the next 10-15 years. They will be great, starting next year when these three stud prospects put on the Blue note.
These guys are a year out of high school, they have amazing potential, and I cannot wait to see them in the STL.