With the 17th pick in the 1999 NHL entry draft the St. Louis Blues are proud to select… Barret Jackman.
The Blues have built an impressive stable of forward prospects in a short period of time, but depth on the blue line was obviously a concern at the draft on Saturday. Barret Jackman, the first of six defenseman selected, stands only 6’0-1/2″ tall, but could grow an inch or so by the time he’s ready for the NHL. One of the most physical players in the draft, Barret throws his 200 Ibs. around very well, and is a strong skater with excellent hockey sense. He reads the play well at both ends of the ice. He won’t put up big offensive numbers, but don’t be fooled by his 259 penalty minutes. He had 8 goals and 36 assists good for 44 points; an improvement from last years 13 points as a rookie. With his hard accurate slapshot and willingness to join the rush, Barret could develop into a 30 to 45 point defenseman in the NHL.
Peter Smrek, another defenseman, was discovered by European scout Peter Stastny. Smrek’s play at the World Junior Championships had his draft stock rising, and even at 20 years old the Blues took a chance on him in the third round.
Chad Starling, the fourth round pick by the Blues, is a hulking defenseman that uses his reach to his advantage but needs to get stronger and more physical. At 6-6 207lbs. he already has the size, he just needs to improve his puck skills and skating. Starling is definitely a project and will need plenty of time to develop.
In round five, the Blues selected Trevor Byrne from Deerfield Academy, another big defenseman, although he is pretty much a “project”. Byrne is 6-3 and 200 lbs, is very agile for his size, skates well, and has good offensive skills with a hard slapshot. A rather obscure pick, Byrne could be a real find if and when he develops. He will be attending Dartmouth College next season.
With the Blues fifth pick, in the sixth round, they chose Tore Vikingstad. A relatively unknown, Vikingstad is 23 years old and could come to camp and fight for a job immediately. Of course, that’s what the Blues would like, but realistically he may not adapt to the North American style as quickly as hoped.
The rest of the Blues draft looks like this:
7th round– Phil Osaer (goaltender from Ferris State University)
8th round–Colin Hemmingway (right wing, Team Surrey of the BCJHL; will be attending University of New Hampshire)
8th round–Alexander Khavanov (27 year old Russian defenseman, Moscow Dynamo)
9th round–Brian McMeekin (6-4 defensman from Cornell University)
9th round–James Desmarais (5-10 centerman who recorded 62 goals and 73 assists for Rouyn-Noranda in major juniors)