By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
BIG WEEK FOR PROSPECT SIGNINGS:
The announcement yesterday that 2010 first-rounder Vladimir Tarasenko would be joining the Blues at training camp this fall, was just the icing on the cake after a week filled with prospect news.
In addition to Tarasenko, the Blues signed 2011 picks Ty Rattie and Jordan Binnington to ELC's in the last week, and also inked 2010 selection Jani Hakanpää to an enmtry-level deal on May 21. None of the three will start the 2012-13 season in Peoria, however; both Rattie and Binnington will likely be returned to junior, and thus will "slide" the first year of their ELC's to the 2013-14 season, although both will be eligible to join Peoria on ATO contracts immediately after their major junior seasons in Portland (WHL) and Owen Sound (OHL), respectively, have ended.
Hakanpää, a fourth-round pick (104th overall) in 2010, will play one more year in Finland for Blues Espoo, having signed a contract extension with the Helsinki-area club earlier this year. The big (6' 5, 215) right-shooting defenseman emerged as a legitimate solid prospect this year after a strong showing in the U20 World Junior Championships at Christmastime, and a solid year in the SM-Liiga with Blues Espoo (41 GP, 5-7-12, plus-6, 30 PM) before suffering a season-ending knee injury in late February.
"Blues, Tarasenko Agree to Entry Level Deal." Story at blues.nhl.com.
"Blues Sign Top Draft Pick from 2011." Story at blues.nhl.com.
"Blues Sign Jordan Binnington." Story at blues.nhl.com.
"Blues Sign 2010 Pick Jani Hakanpää." Story at blues.nhl.com.
Elsewhere in the world o' prospects, 2011 pick Yannick Veilleux earned a championship ring earlier this week when his Shawingan Cataractes captured the 2012 Memorial Cup as the host team. Veilleux scored the game-winning goal vs. the Saint John Sea Dogs at 13:14 of the third period on May 25 to put les Cataractes in the final against the OHL champion London Knights, and had two goals in the six games Shawingan played at the tournament.
|Jordan BINNINGTON||Jani HAKANPÄÄ||Ty RATTIE||Vladimir TARASENKO||Yannick VEILLEUX|
|3/88 (2011)||4/104 (2010)||2/32 (2011)||1/16 (2010)||4/102 (2011)|
|** 39 games played this year||** 41 games played this year||** 69 games played this year||** 54 games played this year||** 59 games played this year|
|** 2305 mins, 115 GA, 21-17-1||** 5 G, 6 A, plus-6||** 57 G, 64 A, plus-23||** 23 G, 24 A, plus-18||** 27 G, 31 A, plus-21|
|** 2.99 GAA, 90.6% sv pct. 1 SO||** 30 PM, 1 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW||** 54 PM, 26 PP, 4 SH, 9 GW||** 15 PM, 7 PP, 0 SH, 6 GW||** 69 PM, 11 PP, 0 SH, 6 GW|
PREVIEWING THE 2012 NHL ENTRY DRAFT:
After the jump, "Prospect Sunday" begins our annual in-depth look towards the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. We begin this year, as always, with a look back at the Blues' last ten drafts in order to identify any possible trends or tendencies. Check it out, on the other side...
LIVING IN THE PAST:
Over the last decade -- largely due to the efforts of über-scout and draft guru Jarmo Kekalainen -- the Blues have become one of the NHL's most highly regarded franchises in the area of drafting and player development. Kekalainen has since departed for the general manager's position with Jokerit Helsinki in his home country of Finland, but he has left the scouting and player development processes in good hands with GM Doug Armstrong and chief scout (and Kekalainen protege) Bill Armstrong, formerly the Blues' Eastern Canada scout and the man chiefly responsible for beating the bushes to find 19-year-old David Perron at 26th overall in 2007.
In the last ten years, the perception has arisen that the Blues would usually look first to Europe for players when draft day rolls around. This perception was largely due to the fact that Kekalainen was himself a European, and because the Blues made some pretty high-profile selections of Europeans in the Kekalainen years... but perception does not always equal reality.
The perception of the Blues as a "Euro-centric" drafting organization during the Kekalainen years is belied by this chart, which illustrates that 50 of 86 players drafted by the Blues in the last ten drafts were, in fact, North Americans.
The 2002 draft is the earliest draft from which data was taken for this report, and in that draft (the last draft with Larry Pleau as GM and Ted Hampson as Director of Amateur Scouting), six of nine players drafted were Europeans (66.7%).
The next eight drafts (2003-2010) are Kekalainen drafts, with Pleau as GM for seven of them, and Doug Armstrong as GM for the eighth draft in 2010. In those eight drafts, the Blues selected a total of 69 players, and 27 of those (39.1%) were Europeans.
In 2004, the Blues selected a total of eight players, and seven of those were from European clubs; the following year, the Blues selected seven players, and only their last pick (219th overall) was a European (Nikolay Lemtyugov).
2011 was the first draft with Doug Armstrong as GM and Bill Armstrong as the Director of Amateur scouting, and in that draft, the Blues chose 3 of 8 players (37.5%) from European clubs.
FIRST ROUND PICKS:
In the last ten drafts, the Blues have made 12 first-round selections; they had three picks in the first round in 2007, and had no first-round picks in the "bracketing" drafts of this control period (2002 and 2011).
There are few identifiable trends to be found in those dozen selections, other than the fact that the last two first-round picks (Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko in 2010) are both forwards. The Blues have chosen six forwards in the first round over the last ten drafts, along with five defenseman and one goaltender. Seven of their first-round picks in this control period have been North Americans (four Canadians, three Americans), and five have been Europeans (two Swedes, a Russian, a Czech, and a Dane). The following chart illustrates the Blues' first-round picks in the last ten drafts:
|Year||Overall||Player||Ps/C||Hgt||Wgt||DOB||Drafted From||Nation of Origin||Status|
|2010||14th||SCHWARTZ, Jaden||LW/L||5-10||180||06-25-92||Tri-City (USHL)||Canada||NHL|
|2010||16th||TARASENKO, Vladimir||RW/L||6-00||202||12-31-91||Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)||Russia||NHL|
|2009||17th||RUNDBLAD, David||D/R||6-02||190||10-08-90||Skelleftea (SEL)||Sweden||AHL *|
|2008||4th||PIETRANGELO, Alex||D/R||6-03||205||01-18-90||Niagara (OHL)||Canada||NHL|
|2007||13th||ELLER, Lars||C/L||6-02||198||05-08-89||Frolunda Jr. (J20)||Denmark||NHL *|
|2008||18th||COLE, Ian||D/L||6-01||225||02-21-89||USNTDP U-18 (USDP)||United States||NHL|
|2007||26th||PERRON, David||LW/R||6-00||200||05-28-88||Lewiston (QMJHL)||Canada||NHL|
|2006||1st||JOHNSON, Erik||D/R||6-04||232||03-21-88||USNTDP U-18 (USDP)||United States||NHL *|
|2006||25th||BERGLUND, Patrik||C/L||6-04||219||06-02-88||Vasteras (Swe-2)||Sweden||NHL|
|2005||24th||OSHIE, T.J.||RW/R||5-11||194||12-23-86||Warroad (MN H/S)||United States||NHL|
|2004||17th||SCHWARTZ, Marek||G/R||5-11||190||04-01-86||Sparta Praha (CZE Ex)||Czech Rep.||Bust *|
|2003||30th||BELLE, Shawn||D/L||6-01||240||01-03-85||Tri-City (WHL)||Canada||AHL *|
An asterisk ("*") in the "Status" column indicates a player that is no longer part of the Blues' organization. Note that there is only one "Bust" listed in the "Status" column, a European and the only goaltender drafted in the first round by the Blues since John Davidson in 1973.
The Blues, like most NHL clubs, do not draft for immediate need, but rather rely on a "best player available" scheme. The difference between the Blues and other NHL clubs, however, is that the "best player available" on the Blues' draft list does not always coincide with what the conventional wisdom suggests. Since seven of the Blues' last 12 first-round picks are currently on their NHL roster, and two more are on the NHL rosters of other clubs after trades that brought key players (Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk) back to the Blues, it can be reasonablty argued that whatever the Blues are doing, they're doing it right.
This year's first-round pick comes near the end of the round at 25th overall, and the last three times the Blues had a pick in this range, the picks were used to select NHL players David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and T.J. Oshie in successive years.
This draft is considered fairly strong in defense prospects, especially at the top, so there's a possibility that a highly-regarded defense prospect may fall into the Blues' lap with this pick. The trend for the Blues in the last couple of draftsm, hiowever, has been to select a forward with their first two picks, and there are a number of interesting forwards who project to be available at around 25th overall. There are also two goaltenders -- Malcolm Subban (Barrie/OHL) and Andrei Vasilevski (TolPar Ufa/RUS Jr) -- who have been often cited as potential late first-round picks, but the likelihood is small that either would be the BPA on the Blues' list at 25th overall.
Next week, we'll take a more in-depth look at the players that your GTPD feels might be on the Blues' radar screen when the draft takes place in Pittsburgh later this month. In the meantime, here are some links to the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings, where our readers can examine at their leisure some of the players available in this year's draft.