Editor’s note: thank you to Tomorrow’s Blues for writing his annual draft re-cap! Unfortunately technical issues are preventing him from publishing this himself, so I’ve stepped in on copy-and-paste duty. The only words that are mine are what I’ve written here. - Hildy
The Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues (we will probably never get tired of saying that) made five total selections in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft this past weekend in Vancouver.
Going into the draft, most observers (including Your GTPD) expected the Blues to focus on drafting defensemen, since as of today that have just three D-prospects signed for San Antonio next season (Niko Mikkola, Mitch Reinke, Jake Walman). Doug Armstrong threw everyone a curve ball, however, by selecting three forwards and a pair of goaltenders.
Following are capsules of the five newest members of the Blues’ organization. Scouting reports are extracted from “The Draft Analyst 2019 NHL Draft Final Report,” except where noted.
62nd overall: NIKITA ALEXANDROV, C, shoots L, 6’ 00.00”, 179 lbs, born 09-16-00, Burgwedel, Germany. 2018-19 Stats: Charlottetown (QMJHL), 64 GP, 27-34-61, plus-24, 36 PM, 5 PPG (6 A), 0 SHG (0 A), 4 GWG, 217 shots (12.4%), 417 / 939 faceoffs (44.4%). Playoffs, 6 GP, 4-3-7, plus-3, 0 PM, 2 PPG (0 A), 0 SHG (0 A), 0 GWG, 25 shots (16.0%), 61/ 129 faceoffs (47.3%). Rankings: 45th North America (Midterm), 29th North America (Final). Movement: Plus-16.
”A hard-shooting import blessed with a goal-scorer’s touch ... Rounded out his game during his draft year by taking high-percentage shots and deferring to his linemates more often. This enabled his coach to shuffle his linemates all season without worrying about a drop in production or effectiveness ... An excellent stickhandler who keeps his feet moving … Strong balance and lateral quickness in tight areas … Accurate cross-ice passing skills … Can finish at the net in an assortment of ways, plus he is confident in making multiple fakes near the goal. He also is capable of making one-touch and no-look plays, and almost is as dangerous in 1-on-1 situations as he is on odd-man rushes ... A good skater but not necessarily a road runner with a quick first step ... Relies more on his awareness and stickhandling to get through traffic than blow past defenders to the outside ... Effortlessly makes rapid lateral cuts while in full flight while maintaining puck control.”
93rd overall: COLTEN ELLIS, G, catches L, 6’ 00.75”, 185 lbs, born 10-05-00, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia. 2018-19 Stats: Rimouski (QMJHL), 46 GP, 2649:18 TOI, 109 A / 1214 SA, 2.47, 91.0%, 27-15-2, 3 SO, 24.49 SA/60. Playoffs, 12 GP, 737:06 TOI, 29 GA / 356 SA, 2.36, 91.9%, 8-4-0, 1 SO, 28.98 SA/60. Rankings: 7th North America Goal (Midterm), 8th North America Goal (Final). Movement: Minus-1.
”One of the QMJHL’s more successful goalies … Was the critical piece in Rimouski’s stingy defense … Mature and eager to improve … Plays calm and poised in the crease … One of the more technically-sound butterfly goalies produced by the QMJHL in recent years … Has a strong idea where the net is no matter the situation ... Remains in control and ensures every gap is plugged … Has excellent rebound control, specifically when facing high-danger shots towards the upper half from straight away ... Solid anticipation skills, confidence in his glove and blocker hands, and a willingness to prepare before games.”
155nd overall: KEEAN WASHKURAK, C, shoots L, 5’ 10.00”, 184 lbs, born 08-16-01, Waterloo, Ontario. 2018-19 Stats: Mississauga (OHL), 66 GP, 16-31-47, plus-2, 58 PM, 6 PPG (9 A), 1 SHG (0 A), 1 GWG, 143 shots (11.2%), 502 / 1019 faceoffs (49.3%). Playoffs, 2 GP, 1-2-3, plus-1, 9 PM, 0 PPG (1 A), 0 SHG (0 A), 0 GWG, 6 shots (33.3%), 18 / 44 faceoffs (40.9%). Rankings: 134th North America (Midterm), 149th North America (Final). Movement: Minus-16.
”A relentless two-way center and forechecker who throws his weight around … An excellent stickhandler … Can dangle his way into prime scoring areas … Earned his ice time and expanded role as Mississauga’s second-line center … A critical piece in the possession game and can contribute on special teams … Makes the most of every shift by reading plays properly and placing himself in the right position to maximize his effectiveness ... Sets the right example ... (Plays) the chip-and-chase game; can also slow the pace down and wait for support … If he picks up a full head of steam, (will) race down the wing to that near post with a step or two on the defenseman ... Has the makings of a legitimate NHL player every coach would want on his bench.”
208th overall: VADIM ZHERENKO, G, catches L, 6’ 02.00”, 172 lbs, born 10-05-00, Moscow, Russia. 2018-19 Stats: Dynamo Moscow MHK (MHL), 19 GP, 1020:51 TOI, 39 GA / 609 SA, 2.29, 93.6%, 7-7-2, 3 SO, 35.79 SA/60. Playoffs, DNP. Rankings: Not Ranked by Central Scouting at Midterm or Final. Movement: N/A.
No scouting report available.
217th overall: JEREMY MICHEL, LW, shoots 6’ 00.00”, 165 lbs, born 05-02-01, Levis, Quebec. 2018-19 Stats: Val-d’Or (QMJHL), 64 GP, 16-26-42, minus-26, 12 PM, 6 PPG (11 A), 0 SHG (1 A), 2 GWG, 147 shots (10.9%), 9 / 22 faceoffs (40.9%). Playoffs, 1-1-2, minus-3, 6 PM, 0 PPG (0 A), 0 SHG (0 A), 0 GWG, 12 shots (8.3%), 4 / 11 faceoffs (36.4%). Rankings: Not Ranked North America (Midterm), 160th North America (Final). Movement: Plus-58.
Scouting report extracted from the 2019 Hockey Prospect.com “Black Book:”
”Michel, in his second season with the Foreurs, had a decent year on a team that struggled to win games and score goals ... A good skater with above-average hands who is going to be a good point producer in the QMJHL … Physically still has ways to go; needs to get stronger in order to compete better along the boards to win more puck battles and in front of the net ... Due to his current lack of strength, he tends to stay on the perimeter and doesn’t (often) engage in one-on-one battles … A good skater who generates some good speed … Can surprise opposing defensemen with a quick burst … (Must) improve his play away from the puck, (and be more involved) in his own zone.
As mentioned yesterday in the Draft Day thread, we see the selection of Alexandrov as part of a possible “re-do” of the Blues’ “Russian Experiment” of the mid-90’s. The have two pieces of the puzzle already in place with Klim Kostin (Igor Korolev comparable) and Alexey Toropchenko (Vitali Karamnov comparable), and now have added the Vitali Prokhorov comparable in Alexandrov.
They will have to wait a year to put that line together in San Antonio, but Kostin and Toropchenko should be working together there in this coming season, as they did briefly with MVD Balashikha in Russia a couple of years back.
Alexandrov is a dynamic offensive talent; he needs work on his skills in the faceoff circle, however, and thus will most likely line up on the wing as a pro unless he gets some instruction and development in that area over the next twelve months.
Ellis is the next in a string of QMJHL goalies drafted by the Blues in the last decade, beginning with Jake Allen in 2008. Depending on what happens with Allen, Vile Husso, and Joel Hofer over the next year, it’s possible that the goalies in San Antonio for 2020-21 could be a pair of QMHJL grads in Ells and Evan Fitzpatrick.
Zherenko is a wild card. He put up pretty good numbers in Russia this year, and the Blues apparently made the swap of seventh-rounders with Toronto specifically to acquire him, so the European scouts Jan Vopat and Timo Koskela must have seen something they really liked.
Washkurak is intriguing. If his scouting report is to be believed, he sounds very much like a potential third-line center and possible replacement for Tyler Bozak after his retirement. Michel also has potential, but will definitely need to bulk up and add strength before moving up to the pro ranks.