Compiled by Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
St. Louis Game Time PROSPECT SUNDAYS
It's that time of the year again, ladies and gentlemen... the Stanley Cup Finals are coming down to the nitty-gritty, and your Game Time Prospect Department's favorite event of the hockey year - the NHL Entry Draft - is right around the corner.
This draft, to be held on June 25-26 in Los Angeles, will be the eighth and last draft that Jarmo Kekalainen will be in charge of for the Blues. Kekalainen will be retiurning to his native Finland at the end of June to take a position as general manager of the legendary Jokerit Helsinki club.
As of this moment, the Blues will have six selections in the 2010 Draft, down from 10 in each of the last two drafts. This year's seventh-round pick belongs to Nashville, thanks to a trade last year in which the Blues sent this year's seventh-rounder to the Predators in exchange for a seventh-round pick last year, 202nd overall, which they used to select Minnesota high-schooler Max Tardy.
Before we look ahead to this year's draft, and to the players that your GTPD and some of the experts have identified have identified as likely targets for the Blues, we'll take a look back at the last seven drafts to try and establish any trends or statistical anomalies that may help to narrow the field somewhat for us draftniks.
More after the jump.
In the first round of the draft, the Blues have selected at the very top (first overall, Erik Johnson, 2006) and the very bottom (30th overall, Shawn Belle, 2003) of the round, and at several intermediate spots in between. The Blues have had a total of ten first-round picks thus far in the Jarmo Kekalainen era, and barring any trades on or before draft day, this year's pick at 14th overall will be the 11th time in the last eight years that Kekalainen has stepped up to the podium to announce the Blues' first pick.
Since 2003, the Blues have selected three players each from Canada and the United States, two Swedes, one Dane and one Czech in the first round. Since 2006, the Blues have had seven picks in the first round, and only two - defensemen Ian Cole (18th overall, 2007) and David Rundblad (17th overall, 2009) - have yet to play a game in the National Hockey League... although that may change in Cole's case, at least, this season.
The Blues have chosen a total of five defensemen, four forwards, and one goaltender (17th overall, Marek Schwarz, 2004) in the Kekalainen era. The last two first-round selections - Alex Pietrangelo (4th overall, 2008) and Rundblad - have been defensemen, and only two of Kekalainen's first-round picks - Belle and Schwarz - are no longer with the organization.
|Round||Avg Draft Position||2010 Draft Position||Total Selections||Fwd||Def||Goal||Avg Ht (in)||Avg Ht (cm)||Avg Wt (lb)||Avg Wt (kg)||BLR||CAN||CZE||DMK||FIN||KAZ||RUS||SUI||SWE||USA|
|1||18th Overall||14th Overall||10||4||5||1||73.4||186.4||196.0||88.9||0||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||3|
The chart at right shows the Blues' total 62 selections in the last seven Entry Drafts, broken down by country of origin for each player. The selections are further divided by position (forward, defense, goaltender), by wether or not the player remains in the organization (including Europeans whose rights are still held by the Blues, regardless of wether they are likely to ever set foot on North American ice), and by the number of NHL players the Blues have drafted and developed from each country.
The number of players chosen from each country ranges from a high of 21 (Canada) to a low of one each from Belarus, Denmark, Kazakhstan and Switzerland. Of the four countries from which only one player has been taken, only one - Denmark - has produced a first-round selection (13th overall, Lars Eller, 2007). Three of the four players chosen from the countries that have produced only one Blues' prospect are still with the organization - Eller, Viktor Alexandrov (83rd overall, 2004, Kazakhstan), and Reto Berra (106th overall, 2006, Switzerland) - although neither Alexandrov or Berra are considered likely to ever play professionally in North America. Konstantin Zakharov (101st overall, 2003, Belarus) spent parts of two seasons at Worcester when the Blues still maintained an AHL affiliate there.
The NHL players produced in the last seven drafts are, of course, David Perron (Canada), Roman Pola'k (Czech Republic), Patrik Berglund (Sweden), David Backes, Erik Johnson and T.J. Oshie (United States). Alex Pietrangelo (Canada) and Eller have not played a full NHL season, and thus are not considered "NHL players" (yet) in this analysis.
Pola'k, chosen in the sixth round (180th overall) in 2004, is the lowest-drafted player to have made his way to the NHL after being chosen by Kekalainen and the Blues. Johnson, at first overall in 2006, is, of course, the highest-drafted player to make the NHL roster. Pola'k and David Backes (2nd round, 62nd overall, 2003) are the only players drafted by Kekalainen after the first round to have earned a regular spot in the Blues' lineup to date.
Coming later this week, a look at the Blues' selections in Rounds 2 through 7 in the Kekalainen Era. Until then, remember... "if we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." Auf wiedersehen.