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Opening "The '15 File:" Around The World O' Prospects

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...in which your "Game Time" Prospect Department enjoys the first published draft guide for the 2015 Draft, summarizes the results of reader voting on potential draft targets, and looks at a proposed trade involving draft picks for the Blues.

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In this edition of "Opening the '15 File," your "Game Time" Prospect Department is pleased to report that we have just obtained the first of the several 2015 Entry Draft guide books to be published this season, from "Future Considerations."

The "FC" Guidebook features a two-round mock draft in which they have the Blues selecting QMJHL winger Yakov Trenin at 56th overall.

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Trenin BW 56. YAKOV TRENIN RUS flag
POSITION Center CSS PRELIMINARY NA "B"
SHOOTS Left CSS MIDTERM NA 050
HEIGHT 6' 01.75" CSS FINAL NA 048
WEIGHT 195 lbs NCAA COMMITMENT N/A
BORN Jan. 13, 1997 WHERE Chelyabinsk, Russia
SEASON CLUB/LEAGUE GP GL AS PT +- PM PP SH GW
2014-15 Gatineau (QMJHL) 58 18 49 67 +17 34 6 0 1
... Playoffs 11 3 8 11 + 1 10 1 0 1

SCOUTING REPORT

PLUS

Playmaking winger ... strong compete level ... impressive puck skills ... protects the puck well due to size and strength .. good vision in scoring areas ... hard shot with good release ... finishes his checks, works hard in front of the net and along the boards ... supports well in defensive zone.

MINUS

Still somewhat raw ... only average top speed, slow feet, poor skating mechanics ... acceleration could be better.

(Extracted from "Future Considerations" 2015 NHL Entry Draft Guide)

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Trenin would be a great addition to the Blues' prospect stable, no question. In this edition of "Opening The '15 File," we're going to take another look at some of the players whom we've already identified as being possible great additions to the Blues' prospect stable as well. We also have a few other tidbits for your draft-watching pleasure.

=== MAKING A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL(S)

Thanks to last year's Ryan Miller fiasco, the Blues do not have a first-round pick this year, and will not pick until late in the second round... unless another trade happens at the draft.

The good folks at "The Hockey Writers.com" have proposed just such a trade for the Blues, along with several others involving other NHL clubs. This proposed deal opens a little more cap space for the Blues; it addresses issues with the NHL-level defensemen; and provides the Blues with a much earlier pick in the second round. Click this LINK for the full article, but here are the relevant details as they pertain to the Blues.

5 Potential NHL Blockbuster Trades
by Joseph Aleong | May 26, 2015
St. Louis trades T.J. Oshie to New Jersey for Eric Gelinas and 2015 2nd round pick
Despite their regular season success in the past few seasons, the St. Louis Blues have struggled in the playoffs and are reportedly looking to shake up their roster. The New Jersey Devils’ offense has performed near the bottom of the league recently, and a proven top-6 scorer like Oshie could provide a spark to the sagging Devils offense. The Devils have a nice stockpile of young defensemen and could deal from a position of strength to improve their aging and ineffective forward group.
In return, the Blues acquire an early-round pick after trading both their 1st and 3rd round picks, allowing them to replenish their draft picks for this draft. Gelinas also gives them an affordable option for their top four, giving them the flexibility to allow a veteran defenseman such as Barrett Jackman or Zbynek Michalek to leave during free agency. He also gives them a strong option for their second power play unit, an area of weakness last season; adding an offensive-minded rearguard such as Gelinas allows coach Ken Hitchcock to pair his top two defensemen on the top pairing and first power play unit again (Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo).

Your GTPD would like to see a little more coming back from New Jersey in this deal; to be more specific, we’d like to see local (Belleville, IL) product Connor Chatham coming back from the Devils along with Gelinas and the second-round pick, and we’d be willing to sweeten the deal with a comparable prospect at forward (Sam Kurker or Mackenzie Maceachern, for example) in order to make that happen.

Trading fan favorite Oshie to the Eastern Conference makes the most sense, as he will have only limited opportunities to come back and haunt the Blues in the foreseeable future. And acquiring the pick would allow the Blues a chance to draft near the top of the second round at 36th overall, where several attractive prospects would be ripe for the picking… including Trenin and pretty much every player mentioned on our "Silver Seven" and "Second Seven" lists.

=== MOCKING THE 2015 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

As a devotee of the NHL Entry Draft process, your GTPD has always been a big fan of mock drafts. The NHL mock at the "Draftsite.com" website (LINK) is the only full seven-round mock we've found on the 'Web that does not require a subscription (and if you know of others, please let us know), and this year's model has some fairly interesting selections being made by the Blues.

BLUES' SELECTIONS IN 2015 DRAFT (Per Draftsite.com Mock Draft)
ROUND OVERALL SELECTION NOTES
2ND 56 NIKITA KOROSTELEV, RW, SARNIA (OHL) ...
4TH 94 RYAN GROPP, LW, SEATTLE (WHL) From EDM (Perron Trade)
4TH 116 RYAN ZUHLSDORF, D, SIOUX CITY (USHL) ...
5TH 127 KEVIN STENLUND, C, HV-71 JR (J20 Superelit) From NEJ (D'Agostini Trade)
5TH 146 CAMERON ASKEW, C, MONCTON (QMJHL) ...
6TH 176 KAMERON KEILLY, C, CHARLOTTETOWN (QMJHL) ...

This mock also shows the Blues drafting Graham Knott (from our "Second Seven" list) in the third round with the 86th overall pick, which the Blues do not have as a result of the Perron-for-Pääjärvi trade. A glaring and easily-checked error like this makes the entire draft somewhat suspect, but as it is the only full seven-round mock (that we know of) available for free on the ’Net at present, we’ll overlook the mistake.

We like the selection of Korostelev at 56th overall; we feel that the big Russian is probably very much on the Blues’ radar with this selection – and "Game Time" readers seem to concur with that assessment -- and he brings an influx of skill to the organizational roster as well. Drafting Gropp at 94th overall (with the pick acquired from Edmonton in the Perron trade) would also not be a bad thing for the Blues.

Gropp, a 6' 2, 187-pound LW who hails from Kamloops, BC, missed the cutoff for last year's draft by one day with a Sep. 16, 1996 birthdate. He made the extra year of draft eligibility count, however, posting 30 goals and 58 points (plus-9, 44 PM, 4 PPG, 6 GWG) in 67 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.

The big winger added a goal and seven assists for the T-Birds in this year's playoffs. "Future Considerations" lists him at 54th overall, and notes that he is a powerful skater with a good transition game, and that despite his size, he plays more of a skill game than a "power forward" style.

Checking in on some of our "Silver Seven" and "Second Seven" selections, we find that Jens Lööke goes to Philly at 99th overall in this mock, which is probably about right. Aleksi Saarela goes to Edmonton at 154th overall; your GTPD isn’t sure if we’d take him at 116th in place of Zuhlsdorf, but we’d take Stenlund at 116th, Veeti Vainio at 127th (whom the mock has going to San Jose at 190th), and then Saarela at 146th in place of Askew.

Askew might well be a target for the Blues, however, because he was a teammate of Ivan Barbashev with Moncton, and the Blues would likely have gotten a few pretty good looks at him over the course of the year. "Future Considerations" posted this scouting report on the 6' 2, 203-pound Boston native, whom they have at 120th overall:

A versatile forward who can slot into any of the three forward positions. Askew is noticeably strong on his feet and uses his size to protect the puck well. What really stands out with Askew is his physical presence as he plays an aggressive style and gets in the faces of the opposing players as often as he can; refreshing to see a big guy who enjoys using his size and strength to his advantage. Not only is he powerful and big, but he also has very good hands for a big guy and is able to make skilled plays like give-and-go passes and dekes to get past defenders. With that said, however, he is more of a meat and potatoes north/south type player than ultra-creative. Has a good shot as well and is dangerous in tight. Has a bullet release on his snapshot. Can bury a quick wrist shot in-stride off the rush as well. His speed is above average, but his overall skating/mobility will be something that he will want to work on before he moves on to the next level. He consistently wins puck battles down low and in the corners by muscling his man off it or by using his big body to protect it. Defensively, he is solid positional wise, but does not always make the best play with the puck in his own zone. He does cover his man well and reads the play, knowing when to disengage and start back up ice. This kid has all of the tools to be a very good NHL depth player and maybe more if his development continues. NHL POTENTIAL: Bottom-Six Power Winger.

In contrast, Saarela is smaller (though not exactly tiny at about 5’ 11, 195) but is a much better and faster skater. Every scouting report we’ve seen on Saarela makes special note of his skating and his ability to make plays at top speed. "Future Considerations," who rank Saarela 137th overall, commented in their scouting report that the young Finn is "injury-prone." He did miss a good amount of time in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons due to various injuries, but in the season just completed, he appeared in 51 games of a 56-game schedule in the Liiga, the Finnish elite league, at age 18. Saarela also played for Finland in the U18 World Juniors, and appeared in 15 games at various U18 and U20 tournaments early in the season. Your GTPD does not feel that injuries, or durability, are a major concern with Saarela at this point.

Your GTPD would also forego selecting Keilly at 176th, and select a goaltender instead. Veini Vehviläinen is not selected in this mock -- another mark against its overall credibility, in our eyes -- and if this were the case in real life (which is unlikely), Vehviläinen would easily be our pick here. If Vehviläinen is off the board, however, then we’d go for either Effingham’s Own Luke Opilka (whom the mock has going 204th overall to Minnesota) or Arizona State commit Joel Daccord, who will play in the USHL with Sioux City next season and who is also not selected in this mock.

=== "SILVER SEVEN" AND "SECOND SEVEN" VOTING

In the last few weeks, we've run several polls on "Prospect Sunday" asking our readers to vote on which potential "Silver Seven" and "Second Seven" picks you'd most like to see added to the Blues' prospect stable.

Following is a graphic representation of the results of those polls.

2015 Draft 000 Results 1 photo Results 000.jpg

The Goaltending poll is still open, and the option to not select a goaltender at all is the most popular thus far.