The question is simple: Where should Ty Rattie play in 2013-14?
The St. Louis Blues' most exciting prospect since Vladimir Tarasenko, Rattie has done big things in the early stages of his career. Big, big things. In fact, he pretty much made a joke out of the WHL by scoring 121 points in 69 games during the 2011-12 season and 110 points in 62 games during the 2012-13 season. It's clear he has outgrown the WHL and is ready to take on a new challenge.
It's really no mystery that the Blues desperately need help on offense. Is Rattie the man for that job? Maybe, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The Blues should give Rattie a chance to prove he deserves a spot in the NHL during training camp. However, barring injuries or a performance from Rattie that simply can not be ignored, the youngster should start the 2013-14 season in the AHL. In fact, it might be foolish to promote Rattie so rapidly unless the team has absolutely no other choice.
What Rattie has done in the WHL is extremely impressive, but it's important to remember how drastically different the game of hockey is in the WHL compared to the NHL. Rattie would benefit from experiencing at least a little time in the AHL in order to adjust to the bigger, faster and stronger NHL.
Consider Tarasenko's shift to the NHL. Tarasenko's first year in the NHL was a bumpy one due to fatigue and injuries, but we can still learn a lot from his debut. He struggled to adapt to the NHL, often appearing to be caught by surprise by how quickly NHL defensemen closed down on him. It might not be totally fair to compare Tarasenko's situation to Rattie's (everyone is different), but it is a recent example of a player struggling to cope with the NHL after spending significant time in a less competitive league.
Though I believe Rattie should start the year down in the AHL, I wouldn't rule out an NHL debut later in the year. If he heads to the AHL and makes the competition look as silly as he has made the WHL look, it'd be tough for the Blues to ignore him. If possible, the Blues should delay Rattie's debut until it's clear he's ready. You don't want to rush your prized prospect into a situation he isn't ready for.
Where do you think Rattie should spend the bulk of his 2013-14? When should he make the jump to the NHL?
Photo courtesy of ESPN.com.