Appearing on center stage, put your hands together for Jaden Schwartz! (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
With a surprise trade of last year's No. 1 pick David Rundblad to Ottawa to draft Russian Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues were one of a small group of aggressive teams (Florida maneuvered into three first-round picks) during the first round of the 2010 NHL draft. With 30 picks in the books, there's a lot more to go today. A lot more.
I think there are a few important points about the St. Louis Blues that we learned last night during the draft. First of all, they clearly identified a need to get depth at forward, especially players with a history of scoring as a young player. All the talk about best player on the board and not ruling out a defenseman or goaltender was just smoke and not substance. So while we feel certain that the Blues are faithful to their core philosophies on player development and drafting, it shows they're flexible when they need to be. That's pretty refreshing.
Under John Davidson, the Blues have not been shy about trading young players and prospects in a way that shows another facet of their organizational philosophy. They obviously make decisions about players' ceilings and perceived value across the league. And when those two beliefs don't jive, they act. We don't know if the Lars Eller or Rundlbad or Aaron Palushaj trades will work out for the Blues or not, but they all fall in a similar category of the Blues making a decision about a player and sticking with it.
Under Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues were not afraid to stick to their ratings of players and avoid conventional wisdom. They were mocked when they took T.J. Oshie in the first round. Most fans questioned taking another European defenseman in the first round last year. They bypassed some players more highly thought of in NHL draft circles and took the guys they wanted. Those kinds of picks smell like a team trying to be smarter than everyone else. The risk is that they're not smarter than everyone else. Jaden Schwartz has scored as an amateur. He's a tad under-sized but could still be growing. He's the kind of player not on other teams' radars that the Blues really like.
As we stand, the Blues have five more picks in the next 134 selections. More things could be happening. Don't rule out another trade. When the picks are made, we'll have stories up with analysis. Until then, hang here and talk NHL Draft. You commented last night like it was a regular season game. Now we've got back-to-back games. Hope you're rested. Coverage starts on NHL Network at noon CDT with I believe some streaming happening at NHL.com. Comment like it's too hot to go outside. Because it probably is.