Blues 2010 draft review

By Maciej Chabelski

Going into the draft, the Blues were armed with a pick in the first six rounds of the draft. That however did not stop them from making a splash on draft day, trading defensive prospect David Rundblad to the Ottawa Senators for the 16th overall pick.

This was following a big move the team made prior to the 2010 draft, acquiring playoff goaltending hero Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens in a surprise deal that included top prospect Lars Eller. Many had predicted the Blues would address their goaltending depth in the draft, but with Halak on board and Eller gone, the priority switched to adding to the organization’s forward depth.

St. Louis picked six forwards and one defenseman, a strategy that differed from past trends of stockpiling the organization with blueliners. The organization also neglected to select any goaltenders in the 2010 draft. The Blues obviously feel confident with Halak, Ty Conklin, Jake Allen, and Ben Bishop in between the pipes for the foreseeable future.

Jaden Schwartz, C – Tri-City (USHL)
1st round, 14th overall
5-10 193 lbs
June 25, 1992

With their first pick in the 2010 draft, the Blues selected speedy Jaden Schwartz from the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.

Schwartz had a fantastic season in 2009-10 with Tri-City, winning the scoring title with 83 points in 60 games. In the process, he became the youngest player to win the title since 1982-83, and was named to the USHL First all-star team and the league’s offensive player of the year. He was also selected to play for team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Schwartz was an important part of Canada’s silver medal winning squad, often playing as the team’s second line center.

As a result of his standout year, Schwartz was ranked 28th among North American skaters by Central Scouting going into the draft.

Despite being listed at only 5-10, Schwartz plays the game of a much bigger forward. He is very strong in the corners and possesses great leadership qualities. A strong stick-handler who’s hard to knock off the puck, Schwartz will spend next season at Colorado College before turning pro.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – Novosibirsk Siber (KHL)
1st round, 16th overall
5-10, 165 lbs
December 13, 1991

With the pick they received in the Rundblad trade, the Blues selected Tarasenko, a dynamic Russian winger from Novosibirsk of the KHL.

Considered by many to be one of the more complete players in the draft, Tarasenko was ranked second among European skaters by Central Scouting. Like Schwartz, he projects to be a top-six forward.

Tarasenko played his second consecutive KHL season last year, scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 42 games. Tarasenko also had a solid World Junior Championship, leading a disappointing Russian side with four goals scored.

Possessing a deadly wrist-shot and great acceleration, Tarasenko has two years remaining on his KHL contract. As with most Russian players, the issue of a KHL contract was one of the reasons many teams decided to pass on the talented youngster. The Blues are confident however that Tarasenko’s future lies with the NHL. During the draft, Tarasenko impressed the organization with his upbeat and cheerful personality. He will return to Russia next season.

Sebastian Wannstrom, RW – Brynas (SEL)
2nd round, 44th overall
6-0, 176 lbs
March 3, 1991

A goal-scoring winger, Wannstrom could prove to be a steal for the St. Louis Blues. The native of Gayle, Sweden had a solid 2009-10 season with Brynas of the Swedish Junior Elite League, scoring a league-high 30 goals and 57 points in 35 games. However, the 19-year-old struggled in the Swedish Elite League, and was held scoreless in 18 games.

Wannstrom went unselected in the 2009 draft but was not ignored this year. He was ranked 27th among European skaters going into the draft, and St. Louis was glad to grab him in the second round.

His skill level is high, as is his ability to create space for himself and others. He has enough technical ability to be used on a scoring line, but can also play a solid checking game if needed. His versatility will serve him well in the future.

Max Gardiner, LW – Minnetonka (Minnesota H.S.)
3rd round, 74th overall
6-3, 176 lbs
May 7, 1992

After drafting several smaller forwards, the Blues decided to take a chance on the big, promising winger from Minnesota, ranked 49th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.

A captain at Minnetonka for the second straight season, Gardiner lead his team to a league championship, adding 17 goals and 43 points in the regular season. Committed to the University of Minnesota next year, his older brother Jake was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks 17th overall in 2008.

Considered to be more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Gardiner maintains a high competitive level, is a good hitter, and could develop into a power forward in the future. He will need to fill out his frame in order to achieve his potential.

Jani Hakanpaa, D – K-Vantaa Jr. (Finland)
4th round, 104th overall
6-5, 218 lbs
March 31, 1992

A tough, wide bodied defender with solid mobility and great size, Hakanpaa was ranked 55th among European skaters by Central Scouting. The Blues felt they needed some defensive grit on the backend, and if the Finn pans out at the professional level, he projects to be a solid defensive foil for one of the Blues offensive defensemen.

Hakanpaa also has untapped offensive ability, registering one goal and an assist in six games for the bronze-medal winning U-18 World Championship Finland squad.

Because he played in Finland’s second junior league, he didn’t get the exposure of other Finnish prospects and remains a dark horse. If he plays to his potential however, the Blues may have found another defensive gem to add to their organization.

Cody Beach, RW – Calgary (WHL)
5th round, 134th overall
6-5, 184 lbs
August 8, 1992

Unranked by Central Scouting, Beach brings a little of everything to the organization, including size, toughness and some offensive ability. Named the Hitmen’s Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, Beach had 14 points and 157 penalty in 51 games in the WHL.

The younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach, Cody projects to be a solid third or fourth-liner in the NHL. He has the potential to be an agitator at the professional level, similar to New Jersey Devil’s forward David Clarkson. At the very least, he can play a fourth line enforcer role, thanks to his strong fighting ability.

Stephen MacAulay, LW – Saint John (QMJHL)
6th round, 164th overall
6-1, 175lbs
April 20, 1992

With their final selection in the 2010 NHL entry draft, the Blues selected winger Stephan MacAulay, ranked 85th in North America in by Central Scouting.

MacAulay has spent the past two seasons in Saint John, and had a solid 2009-10 campaign, chipping in 21 points in 56 games. He showed his defensive prowess as well, finishing a plus-18 on the season. Additionally, in 21 playoff games with the Sea Dogs, MacAulay scored 10 points.

A solid penalty killer with good wheels and above average technical ability, MacAulay could be a third or fourth line forward for the Blues in the future. Like most players his age however, he must continue to work on filling out his frame.