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Blues Must Have Really Like McRae

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Jake Allen, left, and Philip McRae

By Brad Lee

These draft day posed photos can look a little bicurious. But the photo at the top of this post really lets you in on how much the Blues liked Philip McRae.

If you'll notice, he's wearing his dad Basil's No. 17. His dad of course works for the Blues in amateur scouting. But if you look at Jake Allen, a goaltender drafted No. 34 overall -- one pick behind McRae -- there is a big difference with their jerseys. In fact McRae's is the only one to not weara 08 (for the draft year) including No. 4 overall Alex Pietrangelo. Obviously the Blues wanted to make it a special moment for the father and son. But it begs the question, how sure were the Blues that McRae would be there when they picked (granted, there were only two picks Saturday morning before McRae) and did they take him off the board too early?

The resourceful Jeremy Rutherford with the Post-Dispatch* wrote a story about that very issue with with the drafting of McRae that was online Saturday night.

*By the way, with the dateline of Rutherford's story and the number of items he wrote about the Blues' draft as well as other teams, it was obvious that the Post decided to actually send Rutherford to the draft instead of having him cover it from St. Louis for a change. In previous years we pointed out that Rutherford should have attended the draft -- especially when the Blues had the No. 1 overall pick in 2006. Kudos to the paper for finally making the right decision.

Anyway, Rutherford asked Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues' assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting, about the drafting of McRae when some scouts thought the teenager might fall to the third round after a disappointing year with the London Knights in the OHL.

We don't always agree (with other scouts). The biggest issue to us was that he had guys ahead of him in ice time (in London) ... he didn't get quality offensive ice time. But he is talented, and I think he's going to break out next year.

In the story, the McRae family credited former Blue Brett Hull for helping grow the sport in St. Louis. When asked about what Hull's Dallas Stars thought about the young McRae, he said:
We had Philip on our list, and he wouldn't have gone too far if they didn't take him.

Even with Hull's words, you have to wonder if the Blues went out on a limb to make sure McRae got to put that Blues sweater on Saturday morning. The team has made a point of acquiring homegrown talent (Cam Janssen, Yan Stastny and Ben Bishop) after missing out on Paul Stastny. But you also have to consider the fact that team management knows this second round pick will receive a lot more attention and scrutiny than your average player. Doing Basil's family a favor won't do the front office much good if the young McRae doesn't come close to the NHL.