As the clock ticks down to the NHL entry draft in Los Angeles on June 25 and 26, so do the days of Jarmo Kekalainen as the Blues’ tenure as director of scouting. Kekalainen has been widely regarded as one of the best scouts in the business. It’s been known throughout the Blues’ organization that he has wanted to be a GM and his departure was not a shock to anyone. When we look two weeks ahead to a crucial draft in the Blues trek towards greatness, we have to ask; who will the Blues take in the first round?
Oshie, Berglund, and Backes all showed ability and strength at center this year, which, pending a UFA signing or trade, would anchor the top three lines as Jay McClement is a permanent fix on the fourth line. Although speculative, the Blues’ logjam on defense led to the frustrations of Jonas Junland and his departure to Europe last month. That can serve as an indicator that any defenseman, no matter how talented, would likely not be thrilled to be drafted by the St. Louis whom give chronic minutes to the Eric Brewers, Mike Weavers, and Darly Sydors of the world. No matter how good of a player they are on the Blues’ draft board, they may be a bit more hesitant to draft a defenseman, especially if they are European or Russian. What does this lead me to? A scoring winger. The Blues’ dismal offense since the departure of Brett Hull (12 years and counting) points a big finger in the direction of scorers, specifically scorers whom do not have a lot of defensive liability. Specifically, scorers whom actually score whom are not named Brad Boyes.
Looking at the Blues’ pick at number 14, there’s no choice but to shrug off the fact that the Blues have the lowest pick of all 14 non-playoff teams. Given the Blues’ abundance of prospects and two very serviceable defensemen in Jackman and Brewer, I would not be surprised to see the Blues trade up to pick one of the coveted forwards. You can check the list of International Scouting Services’ list of top prospects (http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12116/iss_top30_risers_and_fallers_april2010/) and take your own pick of forwards in the top 10 and your guess as to whom Jarmo wants is as good as anyone’s. If history tells us anything, Jarmo operates with his own agenda that is usually unorthodox, but effective.
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Written by Patrick McLellan