Blues first-rounder Jake Neighbours loaned to AJHL club

Jake Neighbours, the Blues' first pick in last month's NHL Draft, will begin the season with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL.
Courtesy of St. Louis Blues

Forward Jake Neighbours, the St. Louis Blues’ first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, will be one of the first members of the organization to start playing competitively this winter.

Neighbours’ junior club, the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, announced Monday night that he has been loaned to the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey league until Dec. 20. That means Neighbours, 18, can start playing in exhibition games immediately and is eligible to participate in the Bandits’ regular-season opener next Friday, Nov. 13.

The WHL announced last month that it is targeting a Jan. 8 start date, so this move allows Neighbours to begin playing more than two months earlier than he otherwise would have. The AJHL is a “Junior A” league and is considered to be a tier below the more prestigious WHL, one of three major junior leagues governed by the Canadian Hockey League.

Neighbours, who stands 6-foot and 195 pounds, has 34 goals and 64 assists over 122 games spanning three seasons with the Oil Kings. He broke out with a career-high 70 points (23 goals and 47 assists) over 64 games in 2019-20.