Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One To Watch: St. Louis Blues

Solid drafting and patient player development have been keys to the success of the St. Louis Blues in recent years. The team spent its fair share of time at the lower end of the standings but made the most of the down years. The Blues drafted in the top half of the first round four times in five years from 2006-2010 and still have those players on their roster, or the players they received for them via trades. 

Despite picking much later these days, the Blues have still done very well at the draft with a number of their prospects trending upwards. 

2012 Choice: Max Gardiner - I thought Gardiner was an interesting player in an even more interesting situation. The former Golden Gopher was back in the NCAA but with a different program, and a new one at that in Penn State. Gardiner had a good year collecting 21 points in 23 games but only managed 3 goals. I'm guessing more was expected and if so, more will be counted on as he begins his junior season with the Nittany Lions. 

My 2013-14 choice for One To Watch with the Blues comes after the jump.

Ty Rattie (RW)
Chicago Wolves
6'0, 176 lbs
Drafted 32nd overall in 2011

Photo: Peter Eggimann
After piling up 231 points over the last two seasons in the WHL, no one would reasonably argue that 20-year-old Ty Rattie should be sent back to Portland. The Winterhawks sniper is done with junior hockey and will be making his professional debut this season, the only question is where. More than likely with the new AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves but might he see some NHL time with the Blues?

That's one of the questions I have in regard to Rattie this season; where will he play for the bulk of the season?

The next question, and the more important, is if his ridiculously offensive production from Major Junior will translate to the professional level. The history books are full of junior stars that couldn't make it at the next level, or not all the way to the NHL, despite being a nightmare for CHL goalies. 

Of course there are the usual questions for a slightly undersized player and his durability after moving up and that's the case for Rattie as well. More than just his frame it's Rattie's ability to battle in the corners, along the wall and in front of the net that is of concern to me. 

Photo: Matt Monaghan
In Edmonton we saw the Oil Kings neutralize Rattie with physical play for much of the WHL Final last year before he broke out for a hat trick in the final night of the 6-game series.

Rattie is a highly motivated player who I wouldn't bet against. He had a burr under his saddle for slipping out of the 1st round of the 2011 draft and delivered a 121-point campaign in response. Then he was snubbed by Hockey Canada for the 2012 WJC and answered by forcing his way onto the 2013 edition and played well. 

But until he proves it at the pro level the questions will be there and that's why Ty Rattie is my One To Watch for the Blues in 2013-14. 

Next Up: Washington Capitals  

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