"Game Time" Prospect Sunday: THE '14 FILE, Feb. 2, 2014

With the first two picks in the first full (seven-round) mock draft this year, your GTPD has had perhaps the draft's most skilled offensive defenseman fall into our laps, as well as a hometown boy who's selection is a PR home run for the Blues.

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In this installment of “The '14 File,” our focus will be on the first complete (seven round) Mock Draft of the season. This is our attempt to simulate a potential game plan for the Blues at the real draft this June in Philadelphia, and to see the outcome of the draft strategies we have formulated.

Background

Previously, in the print edition of “Game Time,” we took a closer look at Doug Armstrong’s track record as a general manager in the NHL and arrived at the following conclusions:

• In ten Entry Drafts as a general manager, Armstrong has made a total of seven selections in the first round. When he has had picks in the middle of the round, he has drafted forwards; when he has late picks, from 25th overall on down, he has drafted defensemen.

• Two of those defense picks have been premium offensive talents on the blueline. Another has been a serviceable stay-at-home NHL defenseman, and two defense picks from the QMJHL have busted.

• Also, when Armstrong has had picks near the top of the second round, he has drafted skilled offensive players; Loui Eriksson 33rd overall in 2003, James Neal 33rd overall in 2005, and Ty Rattie 32nd overall in 2008.

• Based on history, if the Blues do retain their own first-rounder this year (a late pick) as well as Edmonton’s second-rounder (an early pick), we can expect to see Armstrong draft a defenseman in the first round, probably an offense-minded player who is college-bound (and most likely not a European playing in the QMJHL), and a skilled forward with the early second-rounder.

Also previously in the paper, we identified the following breakdown of positions as a reasonable set of targets for the Blues in this draft:

• Two centers

• Two or three wingers

• Two offensive, puck-moving defensemen

• One physical, stay-at-home defenseman

• One or two goaltenders

Keeping those conclusions and targets in mind, your “Game Time” Prospect Department has embarked on yet another mock draft at the “Hockey’s Future” website. This mock is being conducted by a well-respected poster on the “HF” boards, and is a full seven-round mock as opposed to the three-round “mini-mock” we participated in earlier.

HERE is the link to the mock draft thread, for those of you who are interested in tracking your GTPD’s performance in attempting to fill Doug Armstrong’s shoes. Feedback is strongly encouraged, both here and on the “HF” site.

Getting Ready

In this mock draft, trades were allowed because in the real world, trades do happen. The downside to allowing trades in a mock is that there are always one or two mock GM’s who want to blow up the club they’re representing and start from scratch, and some outrageous deals get made. Your GTPD took a more realistic approach, and made just two trades, one involving a roster player and the other involving picks only.

In the first trade, we sent Chris Stewart to the Islanders along with the sixth-round pick the Blues obtained from Boston in the Wade Redden trade at the 2013 trade deadline. In return, we received center prospect Anders Lee from the Islanders, along with the Islanders’ picks in the third and fifth rounds of this draft.

The Islanders approached us about Stewart, and originally offered LW Josh Bailey and the Isles’ second-round pick. We were sorely tempted to accept this first deal until we researched Bailey’s contract on the “Capgeek” site. Bailey, a serviceable NHL winger, has four years remaining on his current contract at $3.3 million per year. We did not see Bailey as being a “replacement” for Stewart -- that role will fall to Dmitrij Jaskin -- and thus were not interested in picking up that contract.

We counter-offered by adding the Boston sixth to the Blues’ side of the deal and asking for Lee and two picks from the Islanders. Anders Lee is a big (6’ 2, 225) left-shooting Minnesota high school product who was drafted by the Islanders in 2009 after scoring 81 goals and 179 points in 93 games with St. Thomas Academy and Edina High School . Lee played a year with Green Bay in the USHL (2009-10, 35-31-66 in 59 games) and two years with Notre Dame (84 GP, 41-37-88) before turning pro in 2012-13 with the Islanders’ farm club in Bridgeport, CT.

Lee is a pending RFA in the last year of his entry-level deal, but there is plenty of money available to sign him to a reasonable second contract now that Stewart’s $4 million is off the books, and Lee becomes the Blues’ top center prospect by a country mile as a result of this deal. Your GTPD was a proponent of drafting Lee in the first place back in 2009, and if the proposed trade had been Stewart for Lee straight up, we’d probably have gone for it; getting a high third-round pick (65th overall in this mock) and a bonus fifth-rounder (125th overall in this mock) is icing on the cake.

In the second trade, we did exactly the opposite of something that Doug Armstrong did at the 2013 Entry Draft. There, Armstrong traded away a number of picks in order to acquire a late second-round pick (57th overall), which he used to select William Carrier from the QMJHL. In this mock, we traded the Blues’ pick at 56th overall to Los Angeles, in exchange for the Kings’ picks at 113th, 143rd, and 203rd overall, plus a pick at 158th overall that LA had acquired previously from Carolina.

Our thinking here was that, since we had already acquired the Islanders’ pick at 65th overall, there was not going to be a significant difference in the quality of the player available at 56th vs. the quality of the player available at 65th, and the opportunity to make more selections in this draft offered a unique opportunity to restock the prospect pipeline.

This draft has been called a “weak draft” by several pundits who follow and report on such things; our feeling at the GTPD is that there is no such thing as a “weak” draft, only sub-par performances by scouts and general managers on a team-by-team basis. There is world-class talent available in every draft, including in the later rounds, and it is the job of the scouting staff and GM to find this talent and get it into their organization.

The Bottom Line: Through trades in this mock draft, your GTPD has strengthened the Blues’ prospect pool in the immediate term by adding an NHL-ready center prospect, and with a total of 13 selections in the seven rounds of this draft (including three in the fifth round between 123rd and 143rd overall), our goal is to spend the top picks on players who will be ready to turn pro in the near term (two years out), while loading up on college-bound players and European juniors in the later rounds.

The First Pick

Center is still the weak link in the Blues’ organization below the NHL level, but that does not necessarily mean that a center will -- or should be -- the Blues’ primary target with their first-round pick. And in this mock, circumstances played out to where the Blues were able to draft a player at a position where Doug Armstrong has had some success in previous real-life drafts.

As the Blues’ pick at 26th overall approached in this mock, we were still seeing on the table centers that we had previously identified as being primary targets for the Blues -- the USNTDP’s Dylan Larkin, Swedish prospect Adrian Kempe, and St. Louis native Ryan Macinnis. But we were also noticing the fall of a defense prospect that we liked a great deal, and whom we had projected to go somewhere in the 15-20 range, and therefore be long gone when it came time for the Blues to select.

When the Blues’ selection came around at 26th overall, that defense prospect was still available, and so we went with the “best player available” strategy while still being able to draft from a position in which the Blues’ real-life GM has had some success before, and also having the opportunity to think somewhat “outside the box” in relation to the Blues’ recent draft history.

Our selection for the Blues at 26th overall was New Jersey-born defenseman Anthony DeAngelo of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting. Not the biggest player on the ice at 5’ 11 and 165 pounds, DeAngelo has nevertheless developed into one of the premier offensive defensemen in his age group over the last four seasons.

As a 15-year-old with Cedar Rapids (USHL) in 2010-11, De Angelo managed a 1-14-15 scoring line with 19 PM in 29 games, and jumped up to the Ontario League the following year. In two full seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) with Sarnia, DeAngelo scored 15 goals and 81 points, and in 42 games this year with the Sting, DeAngelo has a 13-47-60 scoring line with 65 minutes in penalty time.

“The Scouting Report” website notes that De Angelo is an “undersized defenseman (who) can be a fourth forward on the ice at times and is a major asset on the power play where his shot placement and puck distribution is top notch.” Indeed, 11 of his 28 career OHL goals to date have been scored on the power play. DeAngelo's defensive game is a work in progress, and he gets outmuscled by bigger and stronger players when they can keep up with him, but these are areas that can be improved over time.

As mentioned earlier, we expect DeAngelo to go in the 15-20 range in the actual draft... but if he should fall to the Blues in June as he did in this mock, this would be a fine addition to the Blues’ prospect pool.

The First Pick

With the second selection in this mock draft, your GTPD opted to take the hometown kid, son-of-a-legend Ryan Macinnis.

Macinnis, a tall and lanky center, is a match made in Heaven with the Blues. He has the size and skill to be a top center prospect in this organization, and he is a PR home run for an organization who is sorely in need of one.

The “Future Considerations” website notes that Chopper Junior is “an instinctual player who uses solid positioning to remain in the offensive play.”

Blue Banner

ROUND PICK PLAYER POS/SHT HGT/WGT TEAM (LEAGUE)
1 26 ANTHONY DeANGELO D / R 5' 11 / 167 Sarnia (OHL)
2 32 RYAN MACINNIS C / L 6' 03 / 185 Kitchener (OHL)
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