The St. Louis Blues had several key prospects in the college ranks this year, headlined by the recently signed Tage Thompson out of Connecticut. When Thompson signed a three-year entry-level deal earlier this month, it started what may be several players that will make the jump this spring. Andy Strickland of FOX Sports is reporting that Jake Walman will likely be the next NCAA player to turn pro, and is expected to sign when his season ends. Providence College, where Walman plays, was knocked out of the Hockey East tournament this week by Notre Dame, but will still take part in the NCAA tournament and compete for another national championship.
Walman was a third-round pick of the Blues back in 2014, and has continued his strong play for one of the nation’s best hockey programs. In his three years with the school, the defenseman has 69 points in 106 games and has been an alternate captain all season. Though he is eligible to return for his senior year, he will likely make the jump and suit up for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves next season.
Though this season hasn’t been as outstanding as his sophomore 2015-16, he is still one of the best skaters in the NCAA and almost impossible to stop when he carries it through the neutral zone. This season he’s tried to concentrate on his defensive game, but those puck-rushing skills remain, and they should make him an excellent professional player eventually. Even if he’s never becomes physical enough to log huge minutes against top competition, it would be surprising to not see him on an NHL powerplay one day.
The Blues could theoretically bring him into their playoff run once his season is over, but he’ll more likely head to the AHL and help the Wolves chase down the Calder Cup. With Thompson already there, the two former college rivals could provide an elite boost for the Wolves heading into the postseason.