Blues’ Biggest Draft Misses of the 2010s
The 2010s were a full decade of drafts for Doug Armstrong as the general manager of the St. Louis Blues. While he made a few great trades, he also made some excellent picks in the mid-to-late rounds of drafts.
A lot of the players on the current Blues’ roster were drafted by the team, which is a special thing for a franchise. When you can draft and develop a player, and then see them have success at the NHL level, it shows a lot about an organization. Let’s see how well they have drafted over the past decade.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The Blues hit two home runs in the first round of this draft. First up, they selected Jaden Schwartz with the 14th pick. They followed that up with franchise goal-scorer Vladimir Tarasenko with the 16th pick.
Schwartz has been a consistent, top-six forward for the club for most of his career. He has five seasons with over 50 points, tallying 364 for his career in over 500 games.
Tarasenko has been a constant top goal scorer for the franchise. From 2014-15 to 2018-19, he scored over 30 goals in all of those seasons. He’s finished in the top 15 for the Hart Trophy three times. He has 214 goals and 214 assists over his eight seasons in St. Louis.
After the excellent picks in the first round, the Blues did not get much else in this draft. They took defenseman Jani Hakanpaa in the fourth round, he’s played five career games, all with the Anaheim Ducks in 2019-20. The one goal scored by Hakanpaa was against the Blues, on March 11th, the last game before the season suspension.
F Mark Stone (Pick 178, Ottawa Senators)
Mark Stone has turned out to be a great player, especially after being a sixth-round pick. Stone has played six full seasons in the league and has put up some terrific offensive numbers as well. The Blues drafted forward Stephen McCaulay with the 164th pick, 14 spots before Stone was taken.
His two-way game is at an elite level, up there with the Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly types. His offense is pretty good too, he’s scored over 60 points in five of his six full seasons, including a 73-point season in 2018-19. He is seventh in scoring in the 2010 class for his career, with 385 points.
In 2018-19, when he was traded in the middle of the season from the Ottawa Senators to the Vegas Golden Knights, he was the runner-up for Selke Trophy, losing to O’Reilly.
His overall game, and ability to play in every zone and be great at it, would fit right into the Blues’ system. They value two-way forwards a lot, and Stone is an elite one. A steal for the Senators in this draft.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The Blues followed up a great 2010 class with a solid one in 2011. They came to the table with three second-round picks, all of which played in the NHL, but some were better than others.
With the 32nd pick, they selected forward Ty Rattie. Rattie had potential, but never lived up to it. He played 30 games over four seasons in St. Louis before being put on waivers and claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes. He ended up with the Edmonton Oilers after that and played 50 games, scoring 11 points in 2018-19. He is now playing in the KHL.
With the 41st pick, they picked another forward, Dimitrij Jaskin. Jaskin had a short-lived NHL career but was a solid forward for a couple of years with the Blues. He scored 13 goals in 2014-15, and overall, he played in 266 games with the club and scored 61 points. He spent one season with the Washington Capitals, scoring 8 points in 37 games. He is also playing in the KHL now.
Their third and final second-round pick was defenseman Joel Edmundson. Edmundson was a very steady and solid player on the blue-line for four seasons. He was a big part of the 2019 Stanley Cup run and scored 52 points in 269 games in St. Louis. He was traded to the Hurricanes in the Justin Faulk trade before the 2019-20 season.
The other pick that made contributions in the NHL was goaltender Jordan Binnington, who they snagged in the third round. He may have been a late bloomer and didn’t reach the league until 2018-19, but he made a massive impact. He helped carry the team in the second half of last season, where he went 24-5-1 with a save percentage (SV%) of .927.
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He was great in the 2019 playoffs as well and was the biggest reason why they took the Boston Bruins down in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final. In 2019-20, prior to the pause, he was 30-13-7 with a SV% of .912, he has the looks of a franchise-caliber goaltender for the Blues.
The team did get contributions from their first four picks in this class, but there was nothing after that. They may not have gotten two star forwards as they did in 2010, but they got a star goaltender and other solid players, not bad overall.
F Nikita Kucherov (Pick 58, Tampa Bay Lightning)
This was a miss for multiple teams, one of the superstars of the league taken in the third round. Nikita Kucherov was a huge steal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis could have taken him late in the second round, but chose Jaskin at 41 and Edmundson at 46.
Kucherov is the career lead scorer in this draft by nearly 100 points, as he has 547 for his career. This is a draft that featured a lot of post-first-round steals: Johnny Gaudreau, Brandon Saad, Ondrej Palat, among others.
Kucherov has been an excellent scorer but really started to become a superstar in the 2016-17 season, scoring 85 points. He followed that season up with 100 points and a top-six Hart Trophy finish.
He got even better in 2018-19, where he scored 128 points en route to a Hart Trophy win, along with the Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy. He was already up to 85 points in 68 games in the 2019-20 season.
It’s safe to say that Kucherov is likely to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory with the numbers he puts up every season, he just needs some more hardware. A pick like this in the third round would have forever altered the Blues franchise.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The 2012 draft was one that featured some major flops at the top, with Nail Yakupov being the first overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers. The Blues made some early-round mistakes but made up for that later on in this one.
The first-round pick for the Blues was defenseman Jordan Schmaltz. Schmaltz has never clicked at the NHL level. He played in 42 games over three seasons with St. Louis and played 20 of those in 2018-19. In 2019-20, he played 43 games in the AHL between the Toronto Marlies and Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Their second-round pick was Sam Kurker, he has never played in the NHL and played in the AHL in 2019-20 with the Stockton Heat. The picks got better though, as they selected forward Mackenzie MacEachern in the third round with the 67th pick.
MacEachern became a staple of the bottom six for the Blues in 2019-20. His physicality and gritty play led to him playing in 51 games and scoring 7 goals. He recorded 82 hits this season to go along with that.
The other Blues pick that worked out was their second choice in the third round, as they picked up Colton Parayko with the 86th pick. Parayko has become a shutdown defenseman who has been incredibly reliable for multiple seasons.
He’s recorded 100 hits or more in most of his seasons, as well as blocking over 100 shots per season. He’s proven to provide consistent scoring as well, with 20-40 points every season. This was a steal of a pick in the third round, as he’s been a staple on the back end.
In the sixth round, the Blues selected defenseman Petteri Lindbohm. He played 40 games over three seasons in St. Louis, but he didn’t do much after that. That’s it for the Blues portion of this draft, they did well with one pick for sure and if MacEachern can continue to contribute, it wasn’t a bad draft overall.
D Jaccob Slavin (Pick 120, Carolina Hurricanes)
Jaccob Slavin is not the flashiest or highest-scoring defenseman in this class, but his defensive game is up there at the top. Slavin has been one of the top defensive defensemen in hockey over the last few seasons.
He plays big minutes for the Hurricanes and has had tremendous plus/minus numbers every season, including being a plus-30 in 2019-20. Overall, he’s scored 151 points in 377 games for his career.
He would truly fit right into the Blues’ system, but they chose defenseman Nicholas Waters in the fourth round with the 116th pick. Waters never worked out and Slavin worked out extremely well for the Hurricanes, he’s one of the most underrated players in the game today.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The Blues only had four picks in 2013, and none of them turned into all that much for them. This draft overall is full of multiple stars at the top with Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, and others, but wasn’t all that great in the later rounds.
The one pick that has played in the NHL was William Carrier, who they selected in the second round with the 57th pick. Carrier was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2014 in a deal involving Ryan Miller and Steve Ott.
Carrier played 41 games for the Sabres before being selected by Vegas in the Expansion Draft. He’s become a solid and reliable defenseman for them, as he had 19 points in 71 games this season. His physical play is big too, as he has recorded over 200 hits in both of the last two seasons. He signed a four-year extension in February of this year.
The other three picks for the Blues in this draft haven’t reached the NHL. Defenseman Thomas Vannelli was picked in the second round, he last played in the AHL in 2017-18. This draft was not good for the Blues, they saw no production from any of their picks.
F Tyler Bertuzzi (Pick 58, Detroit Red Wings)
This was a tough choice, and Tyler Bertuzzi lines up perfectly as he was picked 58th, the pick after the Blues took Carrier. Bertuzzi looks to be coming into his own with the Detroit Red Wings, making an all-star appearance in 2020.
He has played near full seasons in both 2018-19 and 2019-20, and has scored 20 goals in each season. He’s been one of the best forwards on a poor Red Wings team.
You combine his speed and skill, he’d be a great forward to have on the wing. Especially in a Blues’ system that is full of good centers with an ability to feed the puck, Bertuzzi could reach 40 goals if he were in a situation like that. In the end, the Blues went the other way and have reasons to regret that.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
After having just four picks in 2013, the Blues had ten picks in 2014, most of which did not go so well. They did have a few that played some solid hockey in St. Louis though.
With the 21st pick in the first round, they took forward Robby Fabbri. Fabbri looked like he could be a star in this league before a knee injury that hit him hard, among other durability issues.
He scored 37 points in 72 games in his rookie season, following that up with 29 points the next season. Some major injuries hit him, as I mentioned, and he only played 32 games in 2018-19. In 2019-20, after nine games with the Blues, the club dealt him to the Red Wings for Jacob de la Rose. (from ‘Red Wings’ acquisition of Robby Fabbri proving to be a shrewd move,’ Detroit News, 02/01/2020)
They followed up their first-round pick with Ivan Barbashev in the second round, with the 33rd pick. Barbashev has truly been a reliable bottom-six forward for the Blues. His physical play and overall two-way game has made this pick worthwhile. Another thing worthy of note for Barabshev, is his chemistry with Oskar Sundqvist on the ice.
In the third round, they selected defenseman Jake Walman with the 82nd pick. He played in one game in 2019-20 and could still make an impact sometime down the road. They also got goaltender Ville Husso in the fourth round, he appears to eventually be an NHL backup at the very least in the future.
The other fourth-round pick was winger Austin Poganski, he also appeared in one game in 2019-20 and like Walman, could be in the NHL on a consistent basis one day.
The final pick that has made an impact in St. Louis was their sixth-round pick Sammy Blais, who they took with the 176th pick. Blais’ physicality has been impressive and was a massive part of the Stanley Cup run in 2019. He may have some scoring too, he scored 6 goals in 40 games in 2019-20, and it feels like there’s more there.
F Viktor Arvidsson (Pick 112, Nashville Predators)
Rather than taking Viktor Arvidsson, the Blues went with Poganski with the 110th pick. That does not look like a great decision so far, but there is still time with Poganski. However, Arvidsson has already been a pretty good sniper for the Nashville Predators so far.
His goal scoring ability has made him one of the better forwards in this class thus far. He scored 31 goals in 2016-17, as well as 34 in 58 games during the 2018-19 season.
He did only have 15 goals in 57 games during 2019-20, but based on his NHL track record, you can expect a bounce back next season. Overall, he has 117 goals in 335 games for his career, he has a pretty good two-way game as well. He’d fit well for the Blues, but they passed on him.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The further we get along with these drafts of the 2010s, the more you will see players who haven’t broken into the NHL yet. Keeping that in mind, there is two players from the 2015 class for the Blues that have played in the NHL.
Vince Dunn was their first pick, in the second round at 56. Dunn is a key piece to the puzzle for the Blues’ defense. His offensive and defensive play provides the club with even more firepower.
He was a key part of the team last year. That was shown when he missed a few playoff games and the team did not look very good. Once he returned, they looked much better, you could tell his offensive ability was needed on the back end. He has some goal scoring ability as well, as he had 12 last season and was nearing the double-digit mark in 2019-20. He was a great pick in the second round for the Blues.
In the fifth round, the team selected Finnish defenseman Niko Mikkola, a 6-foot-4, two-way player. Mikkola played five games for the club in 2019-20 and signed an extension during the season. He tallied one assist in those five games and was a plus-3. He looks to be a promising player and big part of the Blues’ future blue line.
The team made four other selections in this draft, in the fourth round, they took Adam Musil. Musil is now playing in the Czech Republic League. Another pick in the fourth round was Glenn Gawdin, who recently played in the AHL with the Stockton Heat in 2019-20.
In the fifth round, they took goaltender Luke Opilka, who retired in 2018 after continued hip issues. The final pick for the club in this draft was sixth rounder Liam Dunda. Dunda has played his last two seasons at Queens University in New York, so the jury remains out on him.
Overall, this was a solid draft for the Blues with them not having a first round pick. They got a good defenseman with Dunn and one who looks like he could be something with Mikkola.
This was a pretty loaded class in the first round, so it would have been far more convenient to have a first round pick, but they traded it to the Sabres in the deal with Ott and Miller.
F Anthony Cirelli (Pick 72, Tampa Bay Lightning)
This was a tough call with most of the top players in this draft being earlier first round picks, but Anthony Cirelli was there for the club at 56 where they took Dunn. I like the Dunn pick, but it could be interesting if they had gone with Cirelli.
He’s shown flashes of being a reliable two-way forward with an ability to score some goals. He has scored 35 goals over the last two seasons and was a plus-25 in 2018-19 and a plus-28 in 2019-20.
Some of those numbers may be inflated due to him playing for a lethal offensive Lightning team, but I think he would still be a fine player elsewhere. He did finish 11th in Selke Trophy voting in 2018-19, as well as sixth in Calder Trophy voting.
He would be a nice fit in St. Louis with the complete game that he plays. Not elite in the face-off circle, but pretty good. I’d bet that most Blues fans are fine they passed on Cirelli and others to draft Dunn.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The Blues had the 26th pick in the first round in 2016, and they took forward Tage Thompson. Thompson looked to be a promising prospect and was a key piece in the O’Reilly trade in 2018. He has 21 points in 107 games in his young NHL career.
With the 35th pick in the second round, they took Jordan Kyrou. Kyrou has been a fun player to watch in St. Louis – the upside is very high with him. He has scored 12 points in 44 games and is just getting started. He could be a star in this league and a huge part of the Blues’ future.
Those are the only two picks in this draft that have played for the Blues so far. They had another second round pick where they took goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick, who has been playing in the ECHL and still could make his way into the NHL.
With the 119th pick in the fourth round, they took Tanner Kaspick. Kaspick scored 14 points in 58 games in the AHL in 2019-20. Maybe he finds himself on the Blues one day, but that remains to be seen.
They had two more fifth round picks and two more seventh round picks in this draft, none of whom have made it to the NHL just yet. Overall, a solid draft at this point. Kyrou looks to be a blossoming young player for the club, while Thompson was a piece in a huge trade for the franchise.
F Alex DeBrincat (Pick 39, Chicago Blackhawks)
Alex DeBrincat fell into the second round, into the lap of the Chicago Blackhawks. His size was something that likely concerned general managers, but he’s proven to be able to play at the NHL level. The Blues had a shot at 26 and 35 to take him but passed on the chance.
DeBrincat is only 5-foot-7, but his goal-scoring has been excellent throughout his young career. He scored 28 of them in his rookie season, finishing 10th in Calder Trophy voting.
He followed that season up with a huge breakout campaign in 2018-19, scoring 41 goals and 35 assists for 76 points. He took a bit of a step back in 2019-20, as he had just 18 goals in 70 games, but he has a chance to bounce back next season.
He may not be a traditional forward for the Blues, with his small frame, but his speed and hands would be an asset to the team. Kyrou looks to be good, but DeBrincat has already had huge seasons. It will be interesting to see how the careers of those two play out.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
The Blues had two first-round picks in this draft. With the 20th pick, they took Aurora, Ontario born forward Robert Thomas. Thomas has burst onto the scene for the Blues becoming one of their sharpest offensive players yet.
He’s scored 19 goals and 56 assists for 75 points in 136 games over his two seasons. His ability to make his linemates better is impressive. His passing ability, skating, and overall skill should make him a star in this league for years to come. The duo of Thomas and Kyrou will help decide of the fate of the franchise in this decade.
The other first-round pick was Klim Kostin with the 30th selection. Kostin came up for a cup of coffee in 2019-20, playing in just four games. He looked solid, scoring one goal in those four games. He’s produced at the AHL level, scoring 54 points in the last two seasons with the San Antonio Rampage. He is one of the best prospects in the organization and still projects as a top-six forward.
The team didn’t pick until the fourth round after those two picks, and in the fourth, they took Russian winger Alexey Toropchenko. His production has not been there in his 60 AHL games, where he has just nine points, but he produced in the OHL. The verdict is not in with him yet, so it is unknown if he will make an impact at the NHL level.
They made three more picks and went all defense with those. David Noel in the fifth, Trenton Bourque in the sixth, and Anton Andersson in the seventh.
Noel has been a high point producer in the QMJHL with the Val d’Or Foreurs, scoring 60 points in 98 games over the last two seasons.
Bourque was solid in the OHL for a few seasons, he also played five games with the Belleville Senators in the AHL in 2019-20, and he’s also played in the ECHL this season.
Andersson recently played with Luleå HF, a hockey club in Sweden. He scored 29 points in 39 games there. Safe to say he likely won’t play in the NHL anytime soon, but there’s plenty of time though.
Overall, a solid draft so far for St. Louis. Thomas looks to be a big part of the future, and a lot believe that about Kostin as well.
F Drake Batherson (Pick 121, Ottawa Senators)
The deeper we get, the harder it becomes to find a player that the Blues may have missed on, which is no different with Drake Batherson. He’s only played 43 games with the Senators but has already made a large impact for a fourth-round pick. The Blues took Toropchenko just eight picks prior to Batherson going to Ottawa. (from ‘Drake Batherson called up to Sens,’ Cape Breton Post, 02/05/2020)
In parts of the last two seasons, he’s scored 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points, while playing on a poor Senators team. He stepped up his physical play this season as well, tallying 51 hits in 23 games.
He projects to be a solid two-way forward, and if I had to guess, there will be scoring with him to come.
He would fit in nicely with the Blues if he had risen into the NHL as quickly as he did with Ottawa. His size and physicality would fit right onto the Blues’ fourth line. We don’t know how Toropchenko will turn out, but safe to say that Batherson looks like a tremendous value pick thus far.
Overview of Blues’ Picks
None of the Blues picks from 2018 have broken their way into the league just yet, but one is likely to be on the club in 2020-21.
First up, they drafted forward Dominik Bokk with the 25th pick. He’s played his last three seasons in the SweHL and was traded to the Hurricanes in the Faulk-Edmundson deal prior to the 2019-20 season.
Their second round pick was decorated college defenseman Scott Perunovich. Perunovich has played his last three seasons with the Minnesota-Duluth college hockey club. He was apart of their 2018 and 2019 NCAA Tournament title teams.
He has tallied 105 points in 115 games there and was the 2020 Hobey Baker Award winner for being the top player in the nation. He recently signed his entry-level deal with the Blues and could be on the 2020-21 roster.
Their fourth-round selection was goaltender Joel Hofer. He is one of the top prospects for the club as it stands right now. He had a great 2019-20 season in the WHL with the Portland Timberhawks and was apart of the 2020 World Junior Championship Canadian team.
They drafted forward Hugh McGing in the fifth round. He has been a top scorer for Western Michigan University hockey club, tallying 117 points over 147 games there.
In the sixth round, they took Montreal born winger Mathias Laferriere. He’s been a good goal-scoring winger in the QMJHL, scoring 60 goals over the last three seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He could eventually break his way onto the NHL team, that is a ways out though.
Their final pick of this draft was in the seventh round where they got defenseman Tyler Tucker. Tucker is one of the top defensive prospects in the organization right now. He has good size and skill, being a top point producer in the OHL for a few seasons, he 59 points in 68 games a few seasons ago. In the last two seasons, he has played 55 games and scored 56 points. He is a perfect prospect for the Blues’ system.
D Rasmus Sandin (Pick 29, Toronto Maple Leafs)
The sample size with Sandin is small, but he was selected just four picks after the Blues took Bokk. Sandin is one of thirteen players who has played double digit NHL games in this 2018 draft.
He was ranked 11th in the final Central Scouting rankings prior to the 2018 draft, as well as 21st overall in the final THW rankings. This was seen as a good value pick, based on the rankings and the Maple Leafs constant need for defense.
Sandin has only played in 28 games for the Leafs but has tallied 8 points, solid enough production for a player who isn’t a top-pairing defenseman yet. He was a solid point producer for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, collecting 43 points over the last two seasons there.
I cannot rebel against the Blues for choosing Bokk over Sandin, especially with the club having a plethora of defensive depth already. But the fact is that Sandin has already broken into the league and played a solid 28 games to this point, whereas Bokk, as expected has not played in the NHL yet.
Takeaways from this Decade of Drafts for the Blues
As for the 2019 draft, it’s too early to tell whether a pick is going to work out or not. Only five players from it have played in the NHL. Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Dach, Ville Heinola, and Tobias Bjornfot, all first round selections.
Looking over the rest of this decade of drafts for the Blues, they got a lot of their core pieces in the early rounds of these drafts. From Tarasenko to Schwartz, Barbashev, Dunn, and Thomas, the club had a lot of hits early.
They had some misses in early rounds, with Rattie, Vannelli, and more. They also moved some of their early-round picks in trades as well. Bokk to Carolina, Thompson to Buffalo, and Fabbri to Detroit.
A few mid-to-late round gems were found as well with Blais, Parayko, and Binnington. I’d say this has been a successful decade of drafting and solidifies Doug Armstrong as one of the better general managers in the league, and his consistency over a decade has been impressive as well.
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