* Draft Day Thread.
By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
(P)RUSSIAN BLUE... OR RED, WHITE AND BLUE:
Talent from all over the world, from Alaska to Zlin, has gathered in Pittsburgh today and tomorrow for the chance to hear the Blues, or one of 29 other NHL clubs, make their hockey dreams come true. And the chances that the Blues will go to Europe for their first pick are almost the same as the chances that they will stay in North America for their selection at 25th overall.
The Blues do have a tendency to prefer the European skill set when making their early picks in the NHL Entry Draft. In Part One of our annual "Game Time" Draft Preview, four players were identified as probable first-round targets for the Blues and two of them -- Zemgus Girgensons and Tomas Hertl -- are Europeans (although Girgensons has played the last three seasons in North America). Of the Blues 12 first-round selections in the last ten drafts, five of them (Tarasenko, Rundblad, Eller, Berglund, Schwartz) have been Europeans, a total of 41.7% which is consistent with the overall percentage of Euros drafted in total by the Blues in that time frame.
Three of the Blues' seven first-round picks (42.8%) in the last five drafts have been used on a European player, and two of those players (Eller and Rundblad) were traded, one for the current starting goaltender and one for a pick used to select Tarasenko. League-wide, 33 of 150 players selected (22.0%) in the first round during the last five drafts have been Europeans (including seven players of European birth who were playing major junior when drafted).
The festivities are about to get under way, so gather here and discuss who the Blues, and the rest of the NHL, pick in the annual Draft.