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Looking back at the picks that the Blues made yesterday at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, something stands out - smarts. Not necessarily the smarts of the scouts (though those are apparent) but generally the smarts of the players. While reading through various profiles scattered across the web, the praising of the on-ice awareness, ability to find a way to the net, and general hockey sense of all of the players is reassuring.
Take the Blues’ first pick in this draft, Ty Rattie. Some pooh poohed him and said he’d "fall to the second round." Of course, when Bleacher Report’s who is saying a player is overrated, a reader must always take that with a grain of salt. Rattie was ranked 17th overall among North American skaters, and according to HockeysFuture.com:
He is the epitome of a player with a "nose for the net". What makes Rattie most valuable is his obvious thought process on the ice. He is not a powerful skater, yet he seems to be able to hang on to the puck when it matters most. A versatile forward and a consistent special teams player.
That is exactly what the Blues were looking for. Once you get past the pop-up ads on Bleacher Report and get to the obligatory slideshow, the biggest argument against selecting Rattie is his size, as though he is incapable of putting on muscle mass. The Blues very well knew going into this draft that they were not going to draft a league ready player, and they’re fine with this. Rattie is a cog that will prove useful to the team in the future, which is the point of the draft.
The Blues’ last pick of the draft, I was assured by a Finnish friend, might just be the steal of the later rounds. Teemu Eronen plays for Jokerit Helsinki. You might remember that as the club that former Blues drafting czar Jarmo Kekalainen left to become the GM of. If you don’t think that this pick was passed on to the Blues by Jarmo you’re insane. The kid fits the Blues’ d-man description to a T: smart, good from the blueline, can set up plays, and is good on the powerplay. He’s not big and bulky, but he can see the ice and understand what he needs to do.
Another apparent trend is strength. Demitrij Jaskin is quite the big boy, at 6’3’ and 198 lbs already. Joel Edmundson will be a defender that can protect and clear the crease, and considering that he is 6’5" and 191 lbs, can only get bigger - and hopefully more aggressive.
Where the Blues impressed most are their two goaltending selections. Jordan Binnington (@binnnasty on Twitter) was the Most Outstanding Goaltender in the Memorial Cup tournament, apparently has a wicked snark (read his Twitter posts) and is interested in Ultimate Fighting. He’s a solid 18 year old goalie with tons of potential. While he needs to bulk up, there’s no need to rush a goaltender. Look at Tim Thomas.
The other goaltender selected was Niklas Lundstrom out of Sweden. All you have to do is look at his stats for his play in the U-18 WJC and the fact that he was awarded the best goaltender award for the tournament while leading Sweden to a silver medal, and any concerns about goaltenders in the pipeline should melt away.
The Blues, despite not having a first round draft pick, still finished the draft strong and with some picks that can do the farm teams some good at some point. If any make the big club, as always, remains to be seen - but if another annual injury-fest happens in a few seasons, they'll have some solid reinforcements to call up.
With their final pick of the 2011 draft, the St. Louis Blues selected Teemu Eronen of Jokerit Helsinki. Eronen is a large defenseman that needs some development, but at 5'10" and 185 lbs, you can't expect him to be a huge towering hulk, even after maturity. He's a mild offensive threat, good on the powerplay, and he can set up goals as well. He had 11 assists in 48 games last season with Jokerit.
As an aside, former Blues drafting guru Jarmo Kekalainen is now the General Manager of Jokerit. Draw your own conclusions from that.
Buried in here (shield your eyes from the massive amount of ads and try to translate the Finnish) is a fairly sweet goal from the blueline by Eronen:
With their 6th round pick, 162nd overall, the Blues chose Ryan Tesink of the Saint John Sea Dogs. Tesink had 8 goals and 27 assists in 59 games. Most notable, is that in 59 games he had 38 penalty minutes. Also notable is the fact that he finished with a +26 for the season. He scored a goal for the Sea Dogs en-route to their Memorial Cup win in 2011.
He figures that he contributes more through working hard every shift than through scoring, and that contributed him being ranked high in the ranks of North American skaters.
There're a few goal clips buried within here somewhere.
The Blues drafted another goaltender with their fifth round pick by drafting Niklas Lundstrom. Lundstrom comes out of Sweden, and he posted a 2.14 GAA and a .911 SV% in the U-18 WJC, and he had a 2.29 GAA and a .914 SV% in overall international under-18 play. In the U-18 WJC, he had the best GAA and led Sweden to their silver medal.
This is the Blues second goaltender pick in this draft, choosing Jordan Binnington 88th overall.
The Blues have dipped into the QMJHL for their 102nd pick overall in the 4th round. Jannick Veilleux has two seasons under his belt with the Shawinigan Cataractes, scoring 3 goals and 6 assists in nine games and finishing with a -17 in 2009-2010. Veilleux improved in 2010-2011, scoring 19 goals and 29 assists in 68 games. He has a brief three fight fight card at hockeyfights.com, but can also score:
Adding to their goaltender depth with the 88th pick, the Blues drafted Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack. He has a lot of development ahead of him (his stats read him weighing 156 lbs at 6'1", so he's a stringbean in pads) but he's also got a huge skill set to work with. He was named the Most Outstanding Goaltender of the 2011 Memorial Cup, posting a 1.42GAA and a .951 SV% in that series. During the regular season he had a 3.05 GAA and a .899 SV% with a record of 27-12-1-4. According to his NHL.com bio, he's interested in Ultimate Fighting, presumably to clear his own crease when defensemen let him down.
The Blues traded away their 72nd pick overall to the New York Rangers for Evgeny Grachev. Grachev, 6-3 and 202 lbs, was drafted by the Rangers in the 3rd round (75th overall) in 2008. Basically, what the Blues did, was got a player significantly closer to the NHL level instead of a prospect that they'd have to look after in the minors for several seasons. Grachev is big, can skate, and at his size doesn't get shoved off of the puck easily. He played eight regular season games with the Rangers, finishing with no goals, no assists, and a -3 rating. He managed 12 goals and 16 assists in 80 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2009-2010 and an impressive 40 goals and 40 assists with the OHL's Brampton Battalion.
The Blues finished their second round picking with a bang, selecting massive defenseman Joel Edmundson of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Edmundson, at almost 18 years of age, sis 6-5 and 198 pounds. When his frame fills out, he'll have the potential to be terrifying. Which is entertaining, because he lists Jordin Tootoo as a hero.
He's not fleet of foot, obviously, nor is he a scorer, but if a crease needs to be cleared, he's your guy. Also, he can throw down. His hockeyfights.com page is already fairly lengthy, with seven fights (three videos) from last season.
The Blues added another European prospect in Demitrij Jaskin. He is from Omsk, like Blues defenseman Nikita Nikitin, but has played for the Czech U-18 team. At least year's U18 World Junior Championships, he scored four goals and an assist in six games. He also has 59 goals and 56 assists in 102 U18 games played in the Czech Republic.
He was drafted 1st overall in the KHL 2010 draft by Sibir Novosibirsk, and was drafted 60th overall by the Calgary Hitmen that same season.
He obviously has a scoring touch, as evidenced in this hat trick against the Russian team:
At 6-3, 198 pounds, this right winger will give them holy hell if he decides to play in Peoria this year. He's already NHL sized.
With the 32nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in part of the Chris Stewart trade, the Blues select Ty Rattie of the Portland Winterhawks.
Rattie has a reputation as a scorer with a quick shot. The right wing scored 28 goals and 51 assists in 67 games with Portland. At 167 lbs, don't expect him in the NHL any time soon unless he can balloon up quickly, but in the next couple seasons look for him to work his way up, especially if the Blues have a fit of injury again.
The Blues next pick with the 41st overall pick. A pick recap will come at the close of the draft, as the second round on moves significantly faster than the first.
We all like a clutch player. How about an overtime GWG from the then 16-year old?
The St. Louis Blues weren’t a part of the festivities Friday night during the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft; they traded their pick in midseason as part of the major trade with the Colorado Avalanche that swapped former number-two overall Erik Johnson for high-scorer Chris Stewart. The Blues will be in action Saturday, where they’ll be able to use their three second-round picks to try to make up for their lack of first-round talent.
The Blues will pick second—32nd overall—thanks to their half of the draft-pick swap, in which their first-rounder went to Colorado in exchange for Colorado’s second-rounder; then they’ll get their own second-round pick, 41st overall, before ending with the 46th pick, which they got from Buffalo in the Brad Boyes deal.
Check out our St. Louis Blues draft preview for analysis of the Blues’ needs and wants on day two of the 2011 NHL Draft, and follow along on this storystream and at St. Louis Game Time for all the latest draft results and reaction.
Apologies on the tardiness of the draft preview. Four hours of trying to figure out why your trackpad won't left click will do that sometimes.
The Blues, for the first time since 2002, do not have a first round draft pick. As previously noted, the 11th overall pick goes to Colorado for compensation in the Chris Stewart deal, while the Blues have their own pick at 41st overall, plus Colorado's 32nd pick, and Buffalo's 46th overall pick, which was gained in the Brad Boyes deal.
The problem in drafts is that the picks' chances of making the NHL drop off as the rounds tick down. There's less of a chance for a second round pick to make the NHL than there is a first rounder, of course. Heck, not all teams in the first round are lucky enough to draft a Steven Stamkos or a Jeff Skinner, who make an impact right out of the box. The Blues, with about 95% certainty, will not draft someone who we will see in the Note this season, probably even barring another catastrophic round of injuries that this team seems so prone to.
So, who do the Blues draft? Defensemen? The top six seem set, and the Rivermen seem to have a fairly decent core, so look for any D-men picked to be strictly prospect material. A scorer? Good luck finding someone with a laser cannon in the second round, unless injury's knocked them down a peg or two. Of course the Blues'd like to find a scorer - no one enters into the draft thinking "Oh, you know what? I'd like to draft a pylon." But any kid with a scoring touch is going to be the kind that needs to be cultivated through hard work in Juniors or NCAA hockey.
A goaltender? There is a bit of a hole in that chain, as current back-up goalie Ty Conklin does not seem long for the franchise - he will more than likely be let go come July 1st. If the Blues do not sign a UFA back-up, then Ben Bishop (once re-signed before July 1st) is more than likely going to get called up from Peoria, leaving Jake Allen to be the top of the totem pole for the Rivermen. Gerald Coleman of the Alaska Aces was named the ECHL goaltender of the year last season, but is not currently signed by the Blues. Signing him would be the stopgap needed in Peoria.
Drafting goalies tends to be an odd business, with the fact that their development takes forever to complete. Who looks like a hot shot at age 18 could mature into a terrible goaltender, and vice versa (remember, everyone thought Tim Thomas was a lifetime ECHLer at best).
What will the Blues' best bet be? Why not take one or two of the picks and get some NHL ready talent. Do the Blues need some firepower to replace Brad Boyes - or at least the Boyes of the past? Absolutely. Would even an NHL top six forward in general help? Yes. While it was admirable how well Chris Porter and Philip McRae played while they were in St. Louis at the end of last year, another year with the Rivermen would do both of those youngsters good. If the Blues cut Cam Janssen loose on July 1st and decide to go with Ryan Reaves, that also leaves another spot open.
Does predicting what the team will do at the draft do much good? Of course not, because it's always tough to predict what GM Doug Armstrong will do anyway. But so far, with the pre-draft trade excitement that has happened so far, don't be shocked if something big goes down tonight or tomorrow - maybe not necessarily with St. Louis, but this year could be a hum dinger as far as trades go.
When they ended up with the 11th overall pick instead of the 10th in the 2011 NHL Draft the St. Louis Blues lost their first-round pick—risked in the trade that brought Chris Stewart to St. Louis and sent former second-overall pick Erik Johsnon packing—but they've got three second-round picks to burn through on draft night, one of which came from that same trade. In addition to the Avalanche's 32nd overall pick, the Blues will get their own 41st pick as well as the Buffalo Sabres' 46th pick, from the Brad Boyes trade.
It's hard to predict what the Blues will do with this abundance of second-rounders, but over at St. Louis Game Time they came up with one possibility in a mock draft, trading two picks for the 26th overall pick in the first round and selecting Zack Phillips, who ranked ninth overall on their big board.
The Blues have significant draft depth right now, and one of the things you can do with depth like that is trade up for one big score. It's only a few more days until we see what the Blues will choose to do.
As the 2011 NHL Draft looms—it's scheduled for June 24 and 25—more news emerges about the St. Louis Blues' first-rounder from the 2010 NHL Draft. Jaden Schwartz, who spent his first year as a part of the St. Louis Blues organization averaging 1.5 points a game at Colorado College, has been invited to participate in a development camp run by Team Canada's Junior squad.
Schwartz, 19, scored 30 goals and had 17 assists with Colorado College in his freshman year. The team's leading scorer, he announced late in May that he would return to the squad, where he plays with his older brother Rylan Schwartz, for a second season; the Blues, the article reports, haven't yet put a lot of pressure on Schwartz to go pro.
The St. Louis Blues lost their first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft as a part of the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart trade, when they fell just outside the top 10 picks. The Colorado Avalanche will take the Blues' 11th overall pick, leaving their first pick 32nd overall, at the start of the second round. For more coverage on the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, follow this storystream or check out St. Louis Game Time.