St. Louis Blues Draft Recap

The NHL entry draft is officially over, and the that means that all the players drafted are now onto bigger and better things. The Blues were without a second-round pick, fourth-round pick, and a sixth-round pick, but were still able to come away with four new players in their affiliate league. When it comes to the players the Blues drafted their seemed to be a rather one-sided approach, goal-scorers.

1.17: Zachary Bolduc, LW, Rimouski Oceanic

The St. Louis Blues had a lot of attention on them throughout the draft, but one of the more surprising picks in the draft would be their first overall selection, Zachary Bolduc. The Blues had been tied to defenseman, Carson Lambos, prior to the draft and have also had reports of Matthew Coronato. After Coronato had been taken, if they had any interest at all, they settled on Bolduc.

Zachary Bolduc was ranked on most big boards as a top 28-35 player, so getting taken at 17 was probably quite the shock. I was surprised by the reach given some of the names still available however, after reading up on Bolduc, he is exactly what I want in a player.

After being drafted by the St. Louis Blues there were a lot of people calling for interviews and asking questions, but after the draft pick was made and listening to what the insiders had to say about him, he was already one of my favorites in the draft. The reporters were saying that he used to spend so many hours on the rink that in order to get him to stop, they had to reprimand him. On top of being a ice rink junkie, he is also a smooth playmaker, very good goal scorer, and shows a high ceiling.

When it comes to creating a team, and building a team, having guys like Bolduc are the risks you need to take. You can find a player who can come into the league and be good, but take a risk on a player with developmental traits then you may find a superstar.

Bolduc played in 27 games in the QMJHL this past season, in those games he was able to score 10 goals, and 19 assists for 29 points. Looking at where he is coming from and who he was able to learn from is another big upside to his game. Last season Bolduc was able to play with the first overall pick, and future superstar, Alexis Lafreniere. Learning and developing alongside a talent like Alexis could be a big part to how he translates as a player through the AHL.

3.71: Simon Robertsson, RW, Skelleftea

The St. Louis Blues had a pretty good first selection with a lot of upside, after reading up on Simon Robertsson and watching film, this has the potential to be the best selection by the Blues this season. Robertsson was quoted as a top 20-40 player in this draft, as you can see above they were able to grab him with the 71st pick.

Simon played in both the Swedish junior level and in the worlds which he was able to put on display his talent against bigger and better competition. The biggest question mark for Robertsson is simply consistency and ability to make an impact every-time he steps on the ice. As far as his skillset goes, he has the a lot of things working for him. He has incredible puck handling that is commonly seen in situations that would cause for a deke instead of being checked. Although not much of a fancy puck handler, he still has the ability to keep the puck on his stick through traffic. He was able to create a lot of chances of his ability to get through traffic and find the open pass. With that being said, he is an incredibly fundamental and smart player when it comes to his playmaking ability. With the ability to be creative when it comes to making plays on the perimeter or taking the puck to the net and hit the backdoor pass, he’s always looking to make an impact.

There were multiple things that he said he can do well, but perhaps the best part of his game is his electric shot. His ability to get the wrist shot off is something that reminds me of Vladimir Tarasenko. Watching his wrist shot is like watching a bullet getting shot out of a gun. His upside and potential to be a top tier goal scorer in the future is what makes his game so fun and exciting.

5.145: Tyson Galloway, D, Calgary

The St. Louis Blues have drafted a right wing and a C/LW prior to this pick however, with their third pick in the draft they selected: Tyson Galloway, D, Calgary. Their was a lot of people who said that he plays a lot like former Blues defenseman and current Montreal Canadiens defenseman, Joel Edmundson. The Blues have a lot of holes towards the end of last season, but perhaps the player that was most missed was Edmundson. Not having a stay at home defenseman was a big part to a bigger problem that they had, but having a guy who has drown multiple comparisons to him could be a huge get. He was fairly unproductive from a statistical point of view, but if he can become a stay-at-home defenseman capable to playing at the NHL level, he could be a huge get for the Blues.

7.198: Ivan Vorobyov, RW, Khanty-Mansiysk

The St. Louis Blues are in a win now position, that means that they need to find upside players in the later rounds. Ivan Vorobyov is a incredible talent, and was extremely productive in his time with Khanty-Mansisyk. While there isn’t much film on him to break down his film, off the highlights I was able to find, he appears to have a incredible skill-set that reminds me of a player similar to Mathew Barzal. He’s incredibly smooth with the puck on his stick, and is a very good goal scorer and playmaker. As far as upside goes, he is going to be a name to watch out for.

Michigan Prospects Breakdown

Daryl Marshke/Michigan Photography

There is a point in time where every kid out there realizes they may have a chance to live out their childhood fantasy’s and make them reality. For so may kids out there they never even get looked at, but for the kids that end up in a spot where they can have a commissioner say their name upon the podium. Looking at the big boards and mock draft’s that have been compiled prior to the NHL entry draft, there is one thing that I felt the deserves to be talked about – Michigan Hockey.

The Michigan Wolverines hockey program has three potential first round picks, and more than that, has three top 10 players on most big boards. Even with the fact that they have three top 10 players in the entire NHL draft class, they also have the two players that are arguably the first and second overall ranked players. Looking at what makes the players so special is what I’m going to be covering today.

Owen Power, LHD, University of Michigan

My Big Board Rank: 1st Overall

The Bad: Power is a incredible player, that much is undeniable, but he lacks some traits that are considered extremely important for a NHL hockey player. He is not a great with puck control when asked to take the puck up from the defensive zone. As a defender, puck control isn’t a huge breaking point, and it is something that can be taught and developed. As a potential rookie, he has time to develop his talents and become more well-rounded. With that being said, he is not a explosive skater. As a defensive skater who actually plays well in the offensive zone, he has no level of acceleration which could present a problem although not more so than the lack on puck control. He is a very smooth skater, but doesn’t show much explosiveness in his skating, but I doubt it would be much of a problem.

The Good: With the bad stuff being minimal, you can probably assume that he is an incredible talent with a lot of good in his game. He is an incredible skater with his edgework, has very good strides, and does well with evading oncoming pressure. With above-average hockey IQ, he is able to be a great offensive defenseman with his ability to find the pass and set up certain plays. He always seems to find an breakout pass to set-up a play or even to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. He’s one of the few players that I’ve seen with the sixth-sense to just see how a certain pass will play out in the future. He always seems to play each and every possession with a purpose. Now, the most important part to a defender’s game is defending, and in that aspect, Power is excellent. Power could be a little more physical, but he plays with excellent defensive positioning, and has great instincts on the puck that allows him to be a excellent defenseman. Power is a can’t-miss prospect in this draft, I expect him to go first overall to the Sabers in this year’s draft.

Matthew Beniers, C, University of Michigan

My Big Board Rank: 2nd Overall

The Bad: So I could go and give another explanation on what I’ll be talking about, but I just did right above this article. I’d also assume that your not here for all the extra commentary, So what that being said, lets just jump right in on what he needs to improve. So just like I stated with Power, he is a below-average puck handler, which effects Beniers a lot more than Power, but he is able to make it work for the most part. He doesn’t show great puck control while moving up the ice and in-between defenders. He keeps the puck way out in front of him that keeps it out of his reach and has to play catch-up.

The Good: So I know what you’re thinking, that was only one thing I listed above, my response, there is a reason he is my second overall ranked player in this draft. Beniers has one of the best motors in this draft class, and is one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. Although his puck control is questionable, it doesn’t seem to matter because he will take all the contact someone want’s to put on him, and he’ll out-skate anyone who want’s to test him. He is an extremely competitive player with a extremely high motor that defines his game. Corey Pronman of The Athletic said that he had watched over 100 games of Matthew Beniers, and not once was he not an impactful player. Any time he is on the ice, you are getting a player who is going to give his all. He is an incredible player due to his hustle and his booming shot, and is thee best two-way player in this draft.

Kent Johnson, C, University of Michigan

My Big Board Rank: 4th

The Bad: Kent Johnson has been referred to as “The guy you need to know about in this draft class”, but he has a lot that will make his ceiling limited. With that being said, he is an incredibly skilled player and has a lot to offer a team, but is going to be limited as far as who will be able to take him. Kent Johnson has a lot of skill, but as far as skating goes, he doesn’t have the ideal traits in the current day NHL. Looking at how the NHL has developed and altered, you see guys like MacKinnon, and McDavid and see that it’s like watching a video game, Johnson doesn’t offer any of that. He shows a lack of pace, it appears as if he just doesn’t have energy getting up and down the ice. It’s not that he doesn’t perform when on the ice, but he doesn’t play with pace unless the puck is on his stick.

The Good: Kent Johnson, although he doesn’t necessarily play with pace which makes me think he’s lazy, is perhaps the most skilled player in the draft. When you first sit down and watch Johnson on the ice, he immediately will pop out at you due to his elite skillset. He has incredible puck control that allows him to make behind-the-back passes and between-the-leg passes look routine. Watching him play with a change of pace to create space and openings to make plays or create shots is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Watching one of his highlight reels I noticed a change of pace through the neutral zone in which he was able to hook around the defender change directions in front of the goal and hit a backhanded shot over the goalies shoulder. He’s got very good instincts with the puck in setting up plays and sensing pressure with great offensive awareness. He has the ability to become a great hockey player due to his phenomenal puck handling, and his ability to play smart and understands his strengths and weaknesses. He has the ability to be one of the best prospects in the draft given the right situation.

Stanley Cup Recap

The Tampa Bay Lightning were were able to take the first three games, but in the final game in Montreal, the Canadiens were able to take an overtime victory in game four. After going back to Tampa Bay, the Lightning were able to go back home and win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.

First Period

Montreal Canadiens: The Montreal Canadiens were coming off a overtime win, and were playing a strong defensive game in hopes of finding a way to comeback in the series. After an aggressive start, they appeared overmatched and scared to face Tampa head on. They were playing a defensive minded game for most of the first period in order to make things easier on Carey Price, I presume. Although they looked overmatched, they were able to stay in the game through the first period. There is a lot of missing parts to the Canadiens game, but they needed to continue looking on the backdoor against Vasilvesvisky.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Tampa Bay Lightning were looking extremely strong in the first period and were making it difficult on the Canadiens to have any control. Lightning having as good a team as they have, they were making sure that Point, and Kucherov were a big part of the offense. They had a lot of great scoring chances in the first period that put the Canadiens on full alert. After not taking advantage of certain opportunities near the goal, and not keeping Price shielded, they were not showing their best offensive performances. They needed to get Stamkos involved and let him get right after a first period that was underwhelming.

Second Period

Montreal Canadiens: The Montreal Canadiens played a very strong first period and were able to hold the Lightning scoreless. However, the were beaten on a backdoor pass by Savard that put the Lightning up 1-0. They looked extremely strong throughout the period but struggled to execute on multiple chances. The Lightning had a 3-1 and after a mishandle by Josh Anderson, there most likely chance was wasted. They needed to keep the Lightning in a period of unsafety though in order to stay in the game and create chances for some of their elite goal scorers and play makers.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning were able to strike first on a pass by Savard to Ross Colton. After a strong performance and catching lucky breaks they were able to get on the board first and keep the Canadiens scoreless. Playing with great defense and a strong offensive showing, it’s not surprise that the Lightning were the team to strike first.

Third Period

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens were finding themselves in the offensive zone for a large portion of the game, but were unable to finish anything. Vasilvesvisky was able to shut down the Montreal offense that left them scoreless in the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning were able to do what was needed in order to walk away with the cup. After winning it last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have now won it back-to-back years and will be looking to win again next season.

NHL Draft: Players to Target

The NHL Draft Lottery is officially over, and with the Blues eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, they have secured pick number 17. There is a lot of uncertainty in this year’s draft. With the Buffalo Sabres getting the first overall pick, the world is wondering who they will select. Post-lottery, there has been speculation that Owen Powers could become the second overall pick after being considered the number one overall pick for most of the season. Owen’s teammate, Matthew Beniers, has been rising as of late to potentially be the number one overall pick to Buffalo. However, I’m not here to talk about the first pick, I’m here to talk about players the Blues should potentially target at 17.

The NHL draft is much different than most sports, but every year 30 teams will get to select a player that they hope can become a new star player for their team. When you look around the league, there are not many superstars like Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Leon Draisaitl. With those names mentioned, you can see that many teams miss more often than they care to admit, but I’m here to talk about some players that can benefit the Blues moving forward.

Daniil Chayka, D, Moskva(KHL)

Daniil Chayka is a first round talent, and shouldn’t be underestimated. Chayka has an elite level of mobility, calmness, and poise with the puck and loves to play a fast paced game. Chayka has a great deal of speed for someone of his size, but what he offers along with his speed enhances his draft stock. He has great instincts when defending the transition from to the defensive zone. Although some may consider him a “raw prospect”, he shows a great deal of reliability and can be a valuable piece on a team like the Blues.

Isak Rosen, LW, Leksands IF J20(SuperElit)

When it comes to skill, there are not many better than left wing, Isak Rosen. Rosen has phenomenal puck control, speed, and a deadly shot. In the multiple mock drafts I have read through, they had him as a back-end first round level player, but when you have a player with his elite skill-set, take the chance on him. Rosen is one of the fastest skaters in this draft class, and has incredible puck control that allows him to find his way between defenders, and become a playmaker, or find a shot and let it rip. In the current day NHL, when you can have a player with a all-around great talent, it can totally transform a team, and Rosen could end up being one of the best players in this draft class for that reason.

Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan(QMJHL)

Xavier Bourgault is one of the flashiest players in this years draft, and one of the best goal scorer’s in the draft as well. Bourgault, at only 17 years old, finished with 20 goals and 20 assists in only 29 games this past season. Looking at the statistics, you can just see how incredible he is with the puck on his stick. He is a underrated playmaker due to his elite puck control, and deadly shot. With the Blues having lacked in offensive production this past season, they could use a guy who can put up statistics like Bourgault.

St. Louis Blues: Who Will They Protect?

The Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft is nearing, and there are a lot of questions going around; Who will be protected? Are the St. Louis Blues going to protect Tarasenko? What are the off-season plans for the Blues? What style defense are they going to run? What type of offense are they going to run? All of these questions are going to play a big factor in who the Blues will chose to protect, and who they decide to let go.

There was recently a press conference in which owner, Doug Armstrong, reflected on the Blues this past season, and expressed his thoughts going forward. Within some of his vague statements, there were a lot of subtle hints dropped about what he expects going into next season, and the type of team he want’s to build.

To any St. Louis Blues fan, they understand just how important this off-season really is. Looking back on the series against Colorado, the Blues were completely overmatched by the speed and youth of the Avalanche. However, it was very beneficial to the Blues when you take a in-depth look at what the outcome could allow the Blues to do this off-season.

Doug Armstrong strongly believes in the St. Louis Blues and that they are still in their Stanley Cup window. However, the thing to consider is that their matchup against the Avalanche just put on full display what the Blues are up against for the foreseeable future. After getting swept in the first round, Armstrong is going to be looking to re-vamp the Blues in hopes of competing next season for the cup. That mean’s that you should expect a big move or two before the start of the next season.

Protect

The Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft should give the Blues a push in the right direction. If they can make smart business decisions, the Blues could have a very good turn around this upcoming season. The St. Louis Blues have a lot of young depth to their roster, and the younger players such as Mikkola, Koston, MacEachern should see a lot more minutes on the ice come next season. However, you still have to build a team around the young players, and have a good balance of veterans as well. There have been multiple reports about what the Blues are going to do, however, it’s all speculation at this point. With that being said, I’m going to look at who I feel they should protect going into next season that will give them the best chance at winning.

Forwards

Ryan O’Reilly: Ryan O’Reilly is the leader of the St. Louis Blues, and one of the only players that shined throughout the entirety of last season. After getting the captain patch, he claimed full responsibility for the Blues lack of offense in the playoffs, and claimed “I need to do better”. However, if you eliminate his lack of production in the playoffs, he was averaging just under a point per game last season. In 56 games O’Reilly totaled: 24 goals, 30 assists, +26, while only having 18 penalty minutes. O’Reilly is set to obtain $6,000,000 for the 2021-22 season.

David Perron: David Perron was a pivotal factor in the Blues success, and their ability to even get into the playoffs. Perron was perhaps the most important Blue this season given his elite offensive performances. His absence in the playoffs was a devastating loss for the Blues, and Blues fans, to hear. They needed to find a outlet and with him out, it showed the Blues just how important he is to the team. The Blues needed an is an elite offensive threat, and Perron is the closest they have to that. He finished the 2020-21 season with 19 goals, 39 assists, 58 total points, and a +6. He is scheduled to make $3,412,500 this upcoming season which compared to some of the other contracts on their roster is nothing. Letting him go in the expansion draft would be one of the biggest mistakes the Blues could ever make.

Jordan Kyrou: Jordan Kyrou should be one of the obvious candidates for the Blues to protect. Kyrou is a young, and extremely talented player for the St. Louis Blues. There will be argument as he wasn’t super productive this past season however, as a developing player, he has a lot to offer the Blues organization. Kyrou is a budding star, but with a lot movement this past season with injuries, once he finds a rhythm and chemistry with a line, he will be able to be a top six forward for the blues going forward. He finished the 2020-21 season with 14 goals, 21 assists, 35 total points, and +1. He is set to make $832,500 for this upcoming season which will allow the Blues to have a lot more cap space for off-season moves and acquisitions.

Brayden Schenn: The Blues have some touch decisions that need to be made, and a lot of question marks that need to be answered. Schenn has been apart of the Blues organization since 2017, and has found a home with the Blues. With three forwards protected thus far into the article, you need to keep in mind, what do they need. After reading through multiple reports, it is sounding like they are going to be looking to utilize some of their top prospects next season. If that is the case, there has to be a balance of veteran leadership and youth. If the Blues keep Schenn, you get to keep a veteran leader on your team and a player who still has a lot to offer. Schenn finished the 2020-21 season with 16 goals, 20 assists, 36 total points, -2 while finishing the season with 119 hits. Schenn is scheduled to make $8,000,000 this upcoming season.

Robert Thomas: The St. Louis Blues are looking to add some speed to their roster, and so with that, they would be stupid to get rid of Robert Thomas. Thomas is one of the fastest skaters in the Blues organization, and is still very young and has room to grow as a player. He battled injuries in each of his first three seasons which is the biggest question mark revolving around his name. However, if healthy, he can be one of the most valuable Blues players going into next season. Thomas has great playmaking ability, and is extremely fast that will allow him to beat the defenders with his speed alone. Thomas, who is still on his rookie contract is set to make $832,500 this upcoming season.

Oskar Sundqvist: The Blues definitely missed Sundqvist in the playoffs as he was nursing his torn ACL. Sundqvist is a big part of the Blues due to his power play ability, and he produces. Oskar, although he didn’t play much this past season as he was injured, still managed to score four goals, along with having five assists in 28 games this past season. If you take a look back to last season though he finished with 12 goals, 11 assists, 23 total points and a +/- of +9. He is set to make $3,000,000 next season from the Blues.

Vladimir Tarasenko: This one will probably get a lot of hate, or maybe it won’t, I’m not sure but hear me out at least. I went back-and-forth with this one for a long time, but I ended up deciding to protect Vladimir Tarasenko. When you look at the St. Louis Blues roster, there are a lot of good players, but there is only one player on that roster that has the ability to put up 30 goals and 30 assists and that’s Tarasenko. The Blues have a lot of holes that need to be filled and I understand that he may not be “worth the money”, but he is the only player on the Blues that has the ability to produce. In the last game against the Avalanche in which they got eliminated, he put up two goals and was playing like old Tarasenko. If he can get healthy, he has the ability to still be a superstar in the NHL, and can be the leader of the Blues. If you take a look back to last season, although he only played in 10 games, he still had three goals and seven assists. He averaged a point a game, and although it was a small margin in those 10 games, he was healthy. If Tarasenko can get healthy take the off-season to nurse back to health, he can be a elite player for the Blues that they will desperately be lacking should he not be on the team.

Defenders

Colton Parayko: The Blues defense struggled this past season due to injuries, and the loss of Alex Pietrangelo. After Pietrangelo left in the off-season to join the Vegas Knights and former teammate, Ryan Reaves, Parayko was projected to be the next-of-kin for the Blues. Statistically he did not produce to the same level that they would’ve hoped, and due to a nagging injury, wasn’t as big a part of the Blues defense as they would’ve hoped. However, if Parayko can get healthy, he can definitely become the star defender they had hoped he could be. This past season Parayko played in 32 games while scoring two goals, and having 10 assists on the offensive side of the game. If you take a look at the defensive side to his game though, he had 64 blocked shots, 35 hits, and 13 takeaways. Parayko is scheduled to make $3,350,000 this upcoming season.

Torey Krug: Although Krug hasn’t been apart of the Blues organization for too long, he has already found himself being a fan favorite to many. Krug fits the Blues play style perfectly with his elite playmaking ability, and his power play ability. He played in 51 games this past season while totaling two goals, 30 assists, and had a +/- of +11. However, if you look at his power play stats, he also finished with one goal, and had 12 assists. You can just see by the statistics, even if you haven’t seen him play, that he is a true playmaker with the puck, and a great option for the Blues going forward. As a defender though, there is more to his game than just his playmaking ability. He also finished the season with 57 blocked shots, 51 hits, and seven takeaways. This upcoming season Krug, is scheduled to make $4,000,000 from the Blues, which is going to be money well spent in most people’s books.

Vince Dunn: The Blues have had many reports of them possibly changing the style of play going forward. After watching the Blues get swept by the Avalanche, you can see just how much the Blues need to find some speed. With the defense they had out there, they were unable to keep up with Rantanen, and MacKinnon. In order to keep up with them, you’re going to have to find some speed, and youth out on the ice. With that being said, that is where I feel Dunn should come into place. Many will disagree with protecting Dunn over Faulk, however, there are a lot of different areas that made me feel this was the smarter pick. Dunn is a much quicker skater that will allow for him to transition onto defense with guys like MacKinnon and Rantanen, but Dunn is also much cheaper. Although, Dunn is a restricted free agent, I’m expecting in this situation they will re-sign him. Faulk, although he took big strides this past season as a player, is still scheduled to make $9,000,000 this upcoming season. With the Blues keeping Tarasenko, they need to find a way to lose some money and Faulk doesn’t seem too invaluable to re-place.

Goalie

Jordan Binnington: The Blues have the easiest choice in the world with who they will keep as their goalie. Binnington, although not the same goalie he was in 2019, is still one of the best goalie’s in the league when it comes down to the playoffs. If you were to take a look at the statistics from the series against the Avalanche, you would see that the goals for Colorado are misleading compared to just how well Binnington played. Binnington is a beloved Blue, and letting him go could be the worst decision the Blues organization would make.

Conclusion

The St. Louis Blues have a lot of different paths they could take as far as who they will protect, but if you look at who they should protect, this is how I feel. There will be a lot of conversation and debate surrounding who I decided they should protect, but that is always the fun of making these articles. With the selection of keeping these players, the Blues are under-way with the revamping the Blues in order to compete once again for the Stanley Cup. This past season should’ve been an eye opener for the Blues front office after barely making it into the playoff that they need to get some star-power. If you want to see who I feel they should sign, stay tuned for my next article.