Current core of St. Louis Blues built from 2006 draft

By Timothy Freitag
Photo: First overall pick Erik Johnson is among the key cogs of a young and talented St. Louis Blues team. (Photo courtesy of www.pointstreak.com)

The 2006 draft signaled a complete rebuild of the St. Louis Blues. After enduring a lockout in 2004-05 and followed by the worst record in hockey in 2005-06, Blues fans were ready for a change of direction. Having already drafted David Backes and T.J. Oshie in previous years, the Blues had a few prospects already in the pipeline, but the 2006 draft helped a proud franchise gain a new identity.

Erik Johnson, D, USNDTP – 1st round, first overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 198


Known as much for his abilities as a golf cart injury which cost him the 2008-09 season, Erik Johnson has slowly emerged as a top-pairing defenseman. While some players taken later in the first round have put up bigger numbers and some have even won the Stanley Cup, Erik Johnson continues to develop as the physically imposing top defenseman Blues’ management hoped he would become when they drafted him.

The 22-year-old currently has five goals and 13 assists through 50 games with the Blues. Alright totals but well off his career highs of 10 goals and 29 assists from last season. Part of the dip in his totals is due to the injuries the Blues have sustained up front this season and a well below-average powerplay that is forth worst in the conference and sixth worst in the league.

Oft-injured veteran blueliner Eric Brewer currently has the role of top defenseman and captain for the Blues. However his contract is up at the end of this year, and Johnson will likely be called on to step into that role. As a first overall pick, Johnson has definitely dealt with lofty expectations, so it will be interesting to see how he makes the transition.


Patrik Berglund, C, Vasteras IK (SEL) – 1st round, 25th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 198

The Blues acquired another 1st round pick by trading Doug Weight to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Hurricanes, and the used that pick on Swedish center Patrik Berglund.

After an impressive rookie campaign where he scored 21 goals and totaled 47 points, Patrik Berglund set the bar very high for himself. Although he struggled through much of last season, he is back on pace to score around 20 goals and 50 points, which would put him on par with his rookie season.

Although he has yet to elevate his offensive game to the stratosphere many think he is capable of, Berglund has progressed as a center, getting progressively better at faceoffs and more involved physically. Still only 22 years old, Berglund has proven to be a solid NHLer and will have plenty of opportunity to elevate his offensive game.

Tomas Kana, C, Vitkovice HC (Czech) – 2nd round, 31st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 6

Drafted as a skilled forward who could hopefully develop into a regular top-six contributor, the story of Tomas Kana is very much one of unrealized potential. After being drafted in the second round, the forward would spend two more uninspiring seasons with Vitkovice HC and later Slovan HC of the Czech league.

He’d finally make his way over to North America at the end of the 2007-08 season lacing up with the Blues’ ECHL affiliate, the Alaska Aces, for 12 games. Kana would then spend parts of the next two seasons disappointing in the AHL and ECHL before being traded, along with Brendan Bell, to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Pascal Pelletier in December 2009. That season Kana would see some brief time in the NHL, making six appearances and registering two assists.

Through 11 games this season with the Springfield Falcons, Kana has produced only one assist and registered a minus-two.

Jonas Junland, D, Linkoping HC (SEL) – 3rd round, 64th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 4

Jonas Junland has shown a knack for scoring from the blue line since the Blues drafted him in 2006. Though his offensive abilities shined in North America, he was not able to defend consistently, which is why he has not been able to stick with the Blues up to this point.

After coming to the US from his native Sweden in 2008, Junland has produced an eye-popping 75 points in 144 games for the Peoria Rivermen. However, the Blues depth at defense, combined with Junland’s inconsistency has led him back to Sweden for the 10-11 season. Though he hasn’t made his mark in the NHL to this point, never say never when a prospect can put up points like Junland.

Ryan Turek, D, Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 4th round, 94th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

After being drafted in 2006, Ryan Turek took his talents to Michigan State University, where he won a National Championship. However, in 2008-09 Turek was dismissed from the team for what MSU coach Rick Comley described as a "failure to meet team expectations".

Though he was signed to a 25 game tryout with the Rivermen, Turek to date has only played professionaly at the ECHL level. He is currently on a deal with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL and does not appear to have the talent to contribute at the AHL level let alone the NHL.

Reto Berra, G, Zurich (Swiss-A) – 4th round, 106th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Blues drafted Reto Berra after his impressive 2006 World Junior Championship showing. In six games, the Swiss netminder posted a 2.34 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Since the 2006 draft, Berra has bounced around the Swiss-A league and carved out a nice career in his native country.

Unfortunately, Berra never came to North America to try his hand at the AHL level. With the Blues currently stable of goaltending prospects, it does not look like Berra will ever lace them up for St. Louis.

Andy Sackrison, LW, St. Louis Park (US
HS-MN) -5th round, 124th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Andy Sackrison was selected by the Blues for his ability to score goals. In his senior season, Sackrison scored 41 goals and 26 assists in only 25 games against the best high school competition in the country. Unfortunately, Sackrison’s ability to score has not translated to the college game. Currently in his senior season, Sackrison has not eclipsed his freshman mark of six goal and 14 assists.

A lackluster college career will likely lead the Blues to pass on his services going into next season.


Matthew McCollem, LW, Belmont Hill HS (USHS-MA) – 6th round, 154th overall
NHL Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Now in his senior season, the winger has never posted more than six goals or nine assists in a season and has never topped 14 points. It is safe to say at this point that McCollem has at least been something of a disappoint and will likely not be offered a contract by the Blues at the end of his senior season. The 22-year-old will fortunately have a solid Ivy league education to fall back on.

Alexander Hellstrom, D, Bjorkloven IF (SEL) – 7th round, 184th overall
NHL Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Despite being drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 NHL draft, Alexander Hellstrom has shown a lot more promise than other prospects chosen by the Blues in the same draft.

A rugged defensive-defenseman, Hellstrom brought his simple game to the US in 2007. He did not score many goals for the Rivermen, but he did help to keep the puck out of the net. After two mediocre years in the AHL, Hellstrom decided to take his game back to Europe, where he has played all over the continent. First for Lulea HF of the Swedish Elite League and later Novosibirsk Siber of the KHL.