The St. Louis Blues changed directions in multiple ways for the 2005 NHL entry draft. While the 2003 and 2004 NHL entry drafts brought many Europeans players and help between the pipes to the Blues, 2005’s draft was centered around quick forwards to help restock what the organization was missing, scoring punch.
In addition to switching to an offensive approach GM Larry Pleau, along with Director of Amateur Scouting Jarmo Kekalainen, set their sights on North America in this deep draft. The “new” NHL is still an unseen project, but many believe that the salary cap, coupled with Russia’s booming economy (equating to more money for player salaries), will make it much more difficult to bring European prospects across the pond, hence the refocus.
A high school star, four WHL players, a St. Louis native and one, yes only one, European rounded out the Blues 2005 draft class.
T.J. Oshie, C
Round 1 – 24th overall
Born: 12.23.86 Height: 5’10 Weight: 170
With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2005 NHL entry draft, the St. Louis Blues made what many considered a surprise pick taking Warroad high school center T.J. Oshie. Oshie’s stock rose late in the season due in large part to his strong showing at the Minnesota State High School Tournament held March 5th, 2005 at the Xcel Center in St. Paul Minnesota. He finished the 2004-05 season with 37 goals and 62 assists for 99 points in 31 games for Warroad Warriors in Warroad, Minnesota.
Oshie is a quick center with a nose for the net and does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He plays with great determination, is a creative passer, and very difficult one-on-one. Oshie, among other things, is known for his determination and coachability. He creates scoring chances whenever he touches the puck and loves to jump into the play and make things happen. He could still grow and inch or two over the next few years and will need to add some muscle to his frame in order to make the jump to the NHL.
Oshie is slated to play for the Fighting Sioux at the University of North Dakota this fall.
Scott Jackson, D
Round 2 – 37th overall
Born: 02.05.87 Height: 6’4 Weight: 198
With the 37th pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft, the St. Louis Blues chose Scott Jackson a towering defenseman from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Jackson was ranked 33rd overall by ISS going into the draft and the Blues had him pegged at No. 14 on their list. During his rookie season with Seattle, Jackson earned defenseman of the year honors and that success continued into his sophomore season when he was named to the 2005 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Vancouver, B.C. Jackson finished last season with 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 72 games with a +26.
With a wide wingspan at 6’4, he makes it tough for forwards to get around. Jackson is known primarily as a defensive defenseman who plays with an extreme physical edge and has a good outlet pass. He specializes in open ice hits and disrupting the flow of the opponent’s offense with his reach. Jackson shows composure on the ice as indicated in his low penalty minutes. The Blues would like to see Jackson fill out and add muscle to his 198-pound frame along with working on his mobility and skating. Overall, he has the potential of becoming a solid No. 2 or 3 defenseman in the NHL.
Jackson is slated to play his third season for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL this fall.
Ben Bishop, G
Round 3 – 85th overall
Born: 11.25.86 Height: 6’5 Weight: 205
With their third pick, 85th overall, in the 2005 NHL entry draft, the St. Louis Blues turned to a position they have taken a lot of over the past three years, goaltending. Bishop joins Marek Schwarz and Jason Bacashihua in an impressive crop of goaltending prospects. Bishop, who backstopped the Texas Tornados to their second straight NAHL national championship in 2005, is the second former Tornado goalie taken in the NHL entry draft in two years, the other being Al Montoya who was selected sixth overall in 2004 by the New York Rangers.
During the 2004-05 season, Bishop went 35-8-0 in 45 games with 5 shutouts, a 1.93 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage. In addition, Bishop led the NAHL with 35 wins and ranked second in save percentage with these marks he earned a spot on the NAHL All Rookie Team as well as a nomination for USA Junior Hockey Player of the year.
Bishop is an enormous goaltender standing 6’5 and weighing in at 208 pounds. He plays stand-up style and uses his size to his advantage in cutting down the angles. Bishop possesses tremendous agility for his size and is patient between the pipes. With a slew of goaltending prospects in the St. Louis Blues organization Bishop will be given the time to develop his skills in the NCAA playing for the University of Maine
Bishop is slated to play for the University of Maine Black Bears in the fall.
Ryan Reaves, RW
Round 5 – 156th overall
Born: 01.20.87 Height: 6’1 Weight: 194
With the 156th pick in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL entry draft, the St. Louis Blues chose Ryan Reaves. A Winnipeg, Manitoba native, he came to the Wheat Kings from Ravenscourt High School where he put up impressive numbers in 2002-03, 37points in 21 games and in 2003-04, 32 points in 19 games. In his first year with the Wheat Kings he was buried behind Eric Fehr and Lance Monych, two of the league’s most productive wingers, which led to modest ice time and modest numbers of 22 points in 84 games.
Reaves is a physical force who showcases impressive strength up and down the boards. He possesses an offensive upside, although not shown in his 2004-05 numbers. The Blues focused in on these attributes when selecting Reaves 156th overall and hope that he can continue to improve his skating and refine his offensive skills. With several players departing the Wheat Kings this season, Reaves should see an increase in playing time.
Mike Gauthier, D
Round 6 – 169th, overall
Born: 03.26.87 Height: 6’3 Weight: 185
With the 169th pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft, the Blues turned to Prince Albert Raiders defenseman, 6’3 and 185-pound Mike Gauthier. He spent 40 games with the Raiders after suffering a broken leg, but returned for the playoffs in what was thought to be season-ending surgery.
Gauthier is a big physical stay at home defenseman with not much of an offensive upside, although Gauthier possesses tremendous positioning in his own end. His decision-making abilities need to develop and he will have to add bulk to his 6’3 frame for him to make it to the next level. Gauthier must also address his problem with outlet passes and locating his forwards on the ice.
Gauthier is slated to play for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL in the fall.
Nicholas Drazenovic, C
Round 6 – 171st overall
Born: 01.14.87 Height: 6’0 Weight: 172
With the 171st pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft, the Blues picked up Nicholas Drazenovic. According to some, he could be one of the sleeper picks in this deep draft. Drazenovic spent last season with the Price George Cougars in the WHL. At the beginning of the 204-05 season injuries struck the team that gave Drazenovic the opportunity for top-line time and he made the best of it with 56 points in 72 games with 24 penalty minutes and a –1. While the –1 may not look so great he was second in plus/minus on a team that was outscored 223 to 158 during the regular season.
Drazenovic possesses tremendous offensive aptitude and has the ability to develop into a dynamic threat. He has a good shot and very quick first step and plays extremely well in traffic. Standing 6’0 and only weighing 172 pounds, Drazenovic will have to bulk up and learn to play more physical in-order to move on to the next step.
Drazenovic is slated to play for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL this fall.
Nikolai Lemtyugov, RW
Round 7 – 219th overall
Born: 01.15.86 Height: 5’11 Weight: 181
With their last pick, 219th overall, St. Louis turned to obscure Russian forward Nikolai Lemtyugov. A skilled forward who that plays with an edge, he caught Director of Amateur Scouting Jarmo Kekalainen’s attention last year when the Red Army team was touring the CHL. An overage 1986, Lemtyugov is the oldest of this year’s draft class and will once again play this year in Russia for the Red Army team.
Eric Vegoe, Jeff Dahlia, Aaron Vickers and Guy Flaming contributed to this report. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.