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Game Time's "Silver Seven" For Round Three

Potential Blues Targets in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Tomorrow's Blues Online with Brian Weidler

In this report, and the ones to follow, your Game Time Prospect Department will spotlight seven players whom we feel are (or should be) the Blues' primary targets in each round of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

We will spotlight potential selections in the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth rounds; the Blues do not currently have a selection in the fifth round (traded to LA for T.J. Fast in 2008) or the seventh round (traded to LA for a pick that the Blues used to select Paul Karpowich in 2008).

First, let's review the selections that the Blues have made in the third round of each draft in the Jarmo Kekalainen Era (since 2003):

... Avg Sel Avg Ht IN CM Wt (lb) Wt (kg) In NHL .....
... 81 6-01.4 73.4 186.5 193.7 87.8 1 .....
... Canada United States Belarus Finland Kazakhstan Russia Sweden .....
Goal 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2
Def 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
Fwd 2 0 1 1 1 0 0 5

As we can see from the chart, the Blues have literally gone around the world for picks in this round since Kekalainen took the reins at the 2003 Draft.

After the break, we'll put the spotlight on seven players whom we expect to figure in the discussions when the Blues' turn to draft comes up at 78th overall on June 27.

2009 Round 3

Based on the current rankings of the players by NHL Central Scouting and other scouting services, and on the results of several mock drafts conducted by and at the "Hockey's Future" website, the following seven players are projected to be available in the range (+/- five spots) in which the Blues will be drafting in the third round:

Player Pos Sht Height Weight Birthdate Birthplace 2008-09 Club GP G A Pts PIM Country
AVTSYN, Alexander RW R 6-02 198 03-19-91 Moscow, Russia Dynamo Moscow 2 (Rus-3) 76 56 54 110 130 Russia
BERTILSSON, Simon D L 6-00 180 04-19-91 Karlskoga, Sweden Brynäs IF (Swe Jr) 30 9 22 31 54 Sweden
BIRKHOLZ, Josh RW R 6-01 185 03-28-91 St. Louis Park, MN Fargo (USHL) 55 21 15 36 52 USA
HAULA, Erik LW L 5-11 170 03-23-91 Pori, Finland Shattuck-St. Mary's (HS-MN) 49 24 55 79 42 Finland
HELGESON, Seth D L 6-05 220 10-08-90 Faribault, MN Sioux City (USHL) 58 4 12 16 64 United States
LANDER, Anton LW L 6-00 194 04-24-91 Sundsvall, Sweden Timrå IK (Swe) 47 4 6 10 12 Sweden
RYAN, Kenny RW R 6-00 200 07-10-91 Franklin Village, MI USNTDP U-18 53 21 20 41 44 United States

The scouting reports below are composited from five major sources --, International Scouting Services' monthly "Future Stars" reports, the "McKeens Hockey Prospects" website, the "Russian" website, and the "Elite Prospects" website.

Alexander Avtsyn Avtsyn Scouting Report -- (Scouting report posted at "Hockey's Future" by Alessandro Seren Rosso of the "Hockey's Future" staff and Russan; grammatical errors in original have been corrected) Alexander Avtsyn is an excellent skater, and a good stickhandler with good size. He is a fun player to watch because his agility and puck control allow him to make some good moves. His chief issue is that he is still raw as a player, as he played only with Dynamo's junior farm team and thus got no quality ice time against top competitors. Avtsyn also did not see much ice time while with the national team (NOTE: Invited to Team Russia training camp for U-18 5 Nations Tournament in February, but did not play in the tournament). He must learn to use his size to his advantage, but he has potential. Ranked sixth-best prospect in Russia for the 2009 Entry Draft by the "Russian" panel of Russian junior, elite, and KHL coaches. Avtsyn sweater
Simon Bertilsson Bertilsson Scouting Report -- Bertilsson has OK size and a good shot, and adds good puck movement and distribution skills to a strong skating base to create a very dynamic package for a defender. He is calm with the puck and often makes strong intelligent decisions. Bertilsson reads the game and uses his teammates very well, and supports his partner well by making himself available for outlet pass. He has a very good shot with a quick release, and has a hard and accurate one timer. Bertilsson is used in almost every situation including to screen opposing team’s goaltender during 5-on-3 power play. A very skilled defenseman with excellent hockey sense. He has good attitude and impressive timing in his play. Sometimes tends to be a tad risky with the puck; he doesn't like to skate far with the puck, and instead elects to move it quickly, but he is a skilled puck mover. A undersized, but proactive defender that suffocates the puckcarriers' options with his stout positioning. His lack of ideal size for an NHL defenseman is the only glaring concern. Bertilsson sweater
Josh Birkholz Birkholz Scouting Report -- Birkholz' draft stock has been falling since the second half of the season, along with the amount of ice time he has been getting in Fargo, although he did finish the season strongly with 7-3-10 totals in his last 13 games. He's a strong player and a powerful skater with great speed and a good shot, but the fact that he doesn't process the game well is a major drawback; Birkholz simply doesn't see the ice or think the game all that well. His defensemen want to give him the puck while making the first pass, because they know he has the dynamic wheels to carry the puck all the way to the offensive zone. Has a sort of a "bull in a china shop," straight-ahead approach to the game; he's strictly a north/south player and he struggles when he attempts to play a creative east/west game. Birkholz played for Team Reebok (West) at the USHL Prospects/All-Star Game, and is committed to the University of Minnesota for 2009-10. Birkholz sweater
Erik Haula Haula Scouting Report -- The son of a football (as in NFL-style) coach in Finland, Haula was exposed to the American language and culture at an early age, and plays a North American-style game. Took the unusual step for a European of playing American prep school hockey because he is focused on attending college and developing his game there (committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2010-11 season). Haula is a smooth and strong skater who quickly accelerates to his top speed and puts the opposition on their heels. He doesn't have a high-end-skill-package, but he does have the ability to carry the puck to the net and finish, and he can make things happen at top speed. Haula has excellent on-ice vision and playmaking ability in tight around the net, and is on the puck a lot in prime scoring areas. Haula is also an effective penalty killer. His hardnosed approach appeals to North American coaches; he finishes his checks, is strong in the corners, absorbs contact well, attacks the slot area, and competes in the trenches. Haula sweater
Seth Helgeson Helgeson Scouting Report -- Helgeson makes crisp d-to-d passes, transitions the puck well with d-partners, and shows smooth mobility backwards doing so, but his breakout passes are inconsistent; some breakout passes are crisp and on the tape, but too many are wobbly or off the mark. Helgeson marries excellent size with very powerful skating strides, and can build considerable speed with the puck; few opponents try to engage Helgeson when he's in this "freight-train" mode. Helgeson is a smooth skater backwards, maintains a wide base, and can get very low. Very physical defensively, especially by USHL standards, Helgeson is able to destroy opponents by angling them with hip checks or shoulder checks, or by stepping up for solid open-ice hits. Plays on the power play with his hard point shot and is active at the point to remain an open option for forwards down low. Overall, a mature physical package that won't need much time at Minnesota before being ready to move on to the pro game. Helgeson sweater
Anton Lander Lander Scouting Report -- An orderly, bow-legged skater with a low center of gravity and decent core strength, Lander doesn't have dynamic wheels or size, but he's an intelligent player with nice hands. A very smart two-way player with excellent hockey sense, Lander reads the game well and makes mature decisions with and without the puck. Plays with intensity and is skilled offensively; his excellent hands and passing skills allow him to thread the needle while passing the puck through congested areas. Lander is generally a methodical, support player, but has also been used in the role of a creative playmaker. He has deceptive strength for his size, and shields the puck well, enabling him to distribute the puck well in the offensive zone. Rodin sweater
Kenny Ryan Ryan Scouting Report -- A player that simply knows how to put the puck in the net, Ryan is ingrained with the instincts and touch of a goal scorer. He has an accurate shot and can finish if the puck is on his blade near the net. His strong defensive commitment and excellent work rate in all zones generate most of his opportunities, as he possesses the knack for creating turnovers and cashing them in for scoring chances. Ryan has occasionally been guilty of making some poor choices on defense, and must erase the errant plays out of his game. Ryan's not the biggest player out there, but he plays tough on the body and does an adequate job at building a wall with his body between opponents and the puck. His speed is neither a weapon nor weakness, but he's a crisp skater with a non-stop motor. Often plays the body with some jam and will look to spark his team with an open-ice hit. Ryan is also an effective penalty killer that is strong in the faceoff circle, and he is committed to Boston College for the 2009-10 season. Ryan sweater

The following table spotlights where each of these players is, or has been, ranked by various scouting services throughout the year.

Key: CSS = NHL Central Scouting Service. ISS = International Scouting Services. McK = McKeen's Hockey Prospects.

Ranking Avtsyn Bertilsson Birkholz Haula Helgeson Lander Ryan
Ranking Alexander Avtsyn Simon Bertilsson Josh Birkholz Erik Haula Seth Helgeson Anton Lander Kenny Ryan
CSS Midterm 23 Eur 12 Eur 33 NA 55 NA 40 NA 13 Eur 65 NA
CSS Final 18 Eur 17 Eur 43 NA 57 NA 41 NA 19 Eue 56 NA
ISS Oct NR NR 25 USA 7 USA 5 USA 4 Eur 9 USA
ISS Nov NR NR NR 29 31 28 NR
ISS Dec NR NR NR 30 32 29 NR
ISS Feb NR 62 41 38 46 35 68
ISS Mar NR 65 37 73 48 40 68
ISS Apr NR 71 37 66 72 47 59
McK Mar NR 34 36 NR NR NR NR
McK Fin NR 43 67 92 95 75 29

The Last Word from your Game Time Prospect Department

The trend chart clearly shows that the Blues are willing to look in every corner of the world for a selection in the third round; it also shows that the Blues, historically, will most likely take a Canadian forward in this round. We here at the Game Time Prospect Department have chosen to follow the first trend, but disregard the second. Two out of nine players doesn't represent a clear trend to us, but five out of nine players coming from overseas does.

As noted previously, this particular draft is very deep with upper-level talent, and this would be a great draft for the Blues to look to acquire some extra picks in the second and/or third rounds, because there are some potential gems to be had.

We've identified players from four different countries here, based primarily on their rankings by Central Scouting. Most of these players have slid a little bit in the other scouting services that we look at -- McKeens and ISS -- and that leads us to believe that these guys are more likely to be third-rounders than second-rounders, as their CSS rankings might indicate.

The depth of this draft is indicated by the notion that Lander, Bertilsson, Ryan and possibly Helgeson would likely be high-to-mid second-rounders in most other years, and we have seen mock drafts this year in which Lander and Ryan have gone late in the first round.

Birkholz was pretty highly-regarded early on, especially by ISS, but he has slipped quite a bit due to a lengthy mid-season slump, and due to concerns about his hockey sense. We like his straight-ahead, hard-nosed approach, but Birkholz is probably the seventh player on this list of seven.

Bertilsson has solid offensive skills, but less-than-ideal size; Helgeson has great size, but less-than-ideal offensive skills. The two players combined in one body would probably be a top ten pick, but individually, both have shortcomings that drop them to this area of the draft. Jarmo Kekalainen has recently gone on record as noting that, all else being equal, he tends to favor defensemen in the draft... but the skill level and upside of the remaining four players on our list probably make them more likely selections for the Blues at 78th overall.

Haula is a player that we like a great deal; he has skill and grit, and a blue-collar approach to the game. He'd probably be an instant fan favorite in St. Louis with his playing style, but we're a little put off by his less-than-ideal size, and by the fact that he's deferring his college debut for a season, presumably to step up a level and play in the USHL.

Lander is more a playmaker and distributor than a scorer, but he has a high skill level and is highly regarded by more than one scout. He's also a Swede, which seems to give him an edge where Blues' scouts are concerned.

Ryan, on the other hand, is a scorer first from all indications; he also seems to know how to set up his linemates, as his goals-to-assists ratio indicates. He's also an American, which also seems to be a plus where Blues' scouts are concerned.

The wild card here is Avtsyn; there isn't much information available on him, and he hasn't had much exposure to high-level competition either internationally or in Mother Russia. Still, his size is impressive at six-two and nearly two hundred pounds, and 56 goals in 76 games is impressive no matter what league you're playing in. Russians are always a gamble, and this one more than most, but Avtsyn may well have the most potential upside of any player on this list.

This round may require some tough decision-making on the part of the Blues' scouts, and while we at the Game Time Prospect Department are glad the call isn't ours to make -- nor is the responsibility for an incorrect decision ours to bear -- we'd nevertheless sure like to be a fly on the wall when those decision are being made...

Your GTPD Pick for the Blues at 78th overall: Anton Lander, LW, Timrå IK (Swe).