Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way. This week, as the first round concludes with an astounding five Game 7s, we’ll highlight a few more rookies who are playing key roles with their teams so far in the 2022 playoffs.
(Stats do not include Saturday's games.)
After Torey Krug was injured in Game 3, St. Louis turned to their secret weapon, former Hobey Baker winner Scott Perunovich, who posted assists in three straight games and looked poised and confident manning the point on their top power play. He keeps his head up, moves smoothly along the blue line, gets himself into open shooting positions, and makes quick, crisp passes right on the tape.
The Blues clearly understand his power play prowess: he played 10 minutes in Game 6 and nearly seven of those came with the man advantage. The defence will come with time and experience; for now, it's a treat to watch him do his thing on hockey's biggest stage.
St. Louis will now face Colorado and the superlative Cale Makar, who won the Hobey Baker the year before Perunovich. The two are actually only a few months apart in age (both 23) but Perunovich's development was delayed by Covid last year: his college team cancelled its season, the Blues' AHL affiliate took a year off, and St. Louis presumably didn't want to rush him straight from the NCAA to the NHL. He travelled and practiced with their taxi squad but never saw game action. This year, he absolutely lit up the AHL with 22 points in only 17 games before getting called up for 19 games with the Blues (six points).
Perunovich is currently second on Dobber's Top Prospect Defencemen rankings. He'll have to compete with Torey Krug for ice time next year, as the t