That would be a nice headline for Blues fans to read on Sunday morning in St. Louis. So what if the “Note” doesn’t
have a high pick in the first round, does it really matter? The Blues have notoriously had bad luck when it comes to
their first selection, whether it is in first round or not. In the past thirteen years there have been forgettable names
such as Stephane Roy, Maxim Bets, Steve Staios, Craig Johnson, defenseman Jason Marshall with the 9th pick in
’89, and Keith Osborne. Not exactly a great track record. However, history has shown that the Blues have a knack
for finding that elusive needle in the haystack when it comes to late round picks. Rookie playoff sensation Jochen
Hecht was taken 49th overall in ’95. Michael Grier, now in Edmonton, was the 219th pick in 1993. Bret Hedican was
chosen 198th in ’88, and Guy Hebert was taken with the 159th pick in ’87. And let’s not forget top prospect Ladislav
Nagy was chosen 177th in the 1997 Draft. So Ted Hampson, Director of Amateur Scouting, has pulled a few rabbits
out of his hat. If only Hampson could pull off some of his magic in the first round, now that would be a trick.
Let’s first take a look at the top 10 players that may be available when the Blues are ready to select. Left winger
Tomas Kurka has great speed and scoring potential, which puts him at the top of the list. Having seen the Blues draft Read more»
The St. Louis Blues announced yesterday that they have signed defenseman Alexander Khavanov, a 1999 8th round draft pick. Khavanov
is 28 years old, stands 6ft. 2in. tall and weighs 190 pounds. He played last season for a Dynamo Moscow team that won their first ever
Russian Elite League Championship. Khavanov recorded 5 goals and 12 assists, good for 17 points, in the regular season.
The Blues also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Vladimir Chebaturkin. He has good size at 6-2, 226 pounds, and is 25 years
old. Chebaturkin played in the AHL last season for the Lowell Lock Monsters and racked up 1 goal and 8 assists while adding 113 penalty
minutes. He was voted the teams most valuable defensive player of the year. Vladimir also has played in the NHL for the New York Islanders.
He played in 17 games this past season and recorded 1 goal and 1 assist with 8 penalty minutes.
No doubt these two moves are an effort to shore up the depth in the organization as the Blues will lose a defenseman in the expansion draft.
The Blues decided to protect both goaltender Brent Johnson and defenseman Bryce Salvador. In another surprise defenseman Jeff Finley was
left unprotected. Some other interesting names that were left off of the protected list were Scott Pellerin, Tyson Nash, and Reed Low. Here is
a complete look at the both protected players and unprotected.
Craig Conroy C Read more»
After studying hard for 2 years, GM Larry Pleau came to a conclusion concerning the draft class of 1998. The crop of young talent that everyone gets excited about on draft day, just never materialized. Christian Backman has not improved like the Blues had envisioned, Maxim Linnik is a bust in every sense of the word, Brad Voth?, what was that? The jury is still out on Andrei Trochinsky, however, the Blues still own his rights. Brad Twordik didn’t show enough to warrant a pro contract so he is gone as well. The best player may be, John Pohl, who was the last player drafted with the 255th pick. He will be in his junior year at the University of Minnesota next season.
Out of the eight players chosen, the Blues signed one. Defenseman Matt Walker, who attended training camp last fall, showed enough improvement this season to draw some attention his way. At 6-2, 222 pounds, Walker has good size. Playing for Kootenay in the WHL, Matt has made great strides this year both defensively and offensively. After training camp, he will return to Kootenay for his last season of junior hockey.
Christian Backman may turn into a serviceable player someday, but that day will not be this year. Backman, who’s name has been mentioned in numerous trades, may not get his chance with the Bluenote or even Worcester. The Blues want him to sign a contract and play in North America next season, however, he has shown little interest in doing so. If Backman comes to camp this season it will be a miracle.
The Hartford Wolfpack eliminated the Worcester Ice Cats over the weekend winning the final three games by a total of three goals. Despite a brilliant performance by Brent Johnson, the ‘Cats showed their inexperience and lack of fire power. A team can’t expect to win scoring only 3 goals in three games. Johnson, however, was the bright spot for the ‘Cats. Before the weekend he had a 2.44 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He made several outstanding saves Sunday night that kept the ‘Cats in the game. Jame Pollock, who has been a pleasant surprise late in the season and in the playoffs, scored another goal in Saturday’s loss. That goal brought his playoff totals to 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 games. Pollock led all rookies in playoff scoring, in goals and in points. Ladislav Nagy, fresh off his playoff stint with the Blues, returned Saturday and contributed a goal as well. But the ‘Cats just ran out of gas, losing 2-0 in the series clincher. There was hope that Marty Reasoner would rejoin the team as well, however, he apparently suffered a separated shoulder and played the final three games of the San Jose series in pain.
After an impressive first half in Worcester, Marty Reasoner will get a chance to stick with the Blues. With the injury to Jochen Hecht (out 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain) and the loss of Terry Yake to Washington on waivers, the Blues needed to add some skill to the lineup. Reasoner, fresh off his 1g., 1a. performance in the AHL all-star game, must make a consistent impact to prove he belongs. There have been rumors that Reasoner could be part of a deal that would bring immediate help to the blue note. However, this is not a showcase for other teams.
Marty has put up respectable numbers for Worcester this year. He leads the team with 20g. and 27a., good for 47 points in 38 games. The only problem Joel Quenneville will have is where to play him. The Blues are deep at center with Pierre Turgeon, Michal Handzus, Craig Conroy, and Mike Eastwood. Conroy could move to wing, as could Eastwood. Although Conroy is more effective at center than wing, a Reasoner- Conroy-Pellerin line may produce more offense from the third line. If Eastwood were to move to wing on the third line with Conroy and Pellerin, then Reasoner could center Nash and Mayers forming a fourth line with speed and skill. In any case Marty will definitely get playing time, probably playing on the second powerplay unit as well.