There may not be a better drafting team in the second round than the St. Louis Blues. They have found plenty of gems beyond the first round – from Steve Staios, Igor Korolev, Jay McClement, and Jochen Hecht to David Backes and Jake Allen – and the same can be said for 2011.
The Blues had traded Erik Johnson (2006 first overall pick) and their 2011 first round selection to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart and a conditional second. Since the Blues’ first round pick was the 11th overall and not in the top 10, the Blues retained their second round pick.
Despite another year without a first round pick, the Blues had three picks in the second round and made the most of it. While some players from the 2011 draft may not see NHL playing time, the Blues appear to have had some success with their early picks and found great building blocks that are coming to fruition now.
Ty Rattie has found his stride at the professional level and is improving with every passing year but is running out of time to graduate as a prospect.
He had a solid junior career but was always criticized for his lack of size going into the 2011 NHL Draft. But, through the use of his puck-moving skills, Rattie has flourished as an offensive weapon at the AHL level and plays heavy minutes for the Blues’ affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. After a 31-goal rookie campaign, Rattie has developed a more consistent game and has excelled as a playmaker.
Rattie was given his longest NHL stint this season and proved he can play at the highest level. He scored four goals with two assists in 13 games before heading back to the Wolves for the remainder of the season. The Blues were playing for a Stanley Cup berth and would not have the space for another top-six forward with Rattie.
Of the 2011 draft class, Rattie may still have the highest ceiling and should get a chance to prove himself during training camp before next season.
2nd round, 41st overall: Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, Slavia Praha HC (Czech)
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 139
Dmitrij Jaskin started his pro career in the Czech league with Slavia Praha HC before making his way to North America. He had a good two-way game as a teenager which earned him a shot at the NHL. He joined the Moncton Wildcats in 2012-13 for one season and looked like a man among boys. He finished the season with 46 goals and 53 assists in 55 games and earned a two-game stint with the Blues.
In 2013-14, Jaskin played his first full pro season in North America with the Wolves and showcased his skills with 15 goals and 14 assists in 42 games, earning him another NHL stint for 18 games. He continued to develop a good two-way game and showed more consistency with his offensive production. He played just 18 games for the Wolves in 2014-15 before joining the Blues for 54 games. He ended the season with 13 goals and 5 assists. He started the 2015-16 season with the Blues and played 65 games before being sent back to the AHL. He had an unproductive campaign with just four goals and nine assists, and the Blues were fighting for a top spot in the Western Conference.
Despite ending the season in the AHL, he was called up during the NHL playoffs and is ready for a full-time NHL role. He has proven goal scoring ability and is a reliable two-way player with excellent and underappreciated ability to drive the play. The 23-year-old should start next season in the NHL and will look to hit the ground running after a slow start in 2015-16.
2nd round, 46th overall: Joel Edmundson, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 67
Joel Edmundson was a mainstay on the Moose Jaw Warriors’ blueline before getting traded to the Kamloops Blazers in 2012-13. He excelled in the playoffs, scoring three goals and eight assists in 15 games, and showed good signs of developing into a two-way defenseman. He has a big frame but skates well and plays a physical game.
Edmundson got his first shot with the Blues this season and never looked back. He played in just six AHL games before getting the call and played 67 games for the Blues during the regular season. He also played in 16 playoff games for the Blues in the postseason. While he made some errors under the pressure of the playoffs, the experience will ultimately help him grow as a player. His defensive game has come a long way and his reliability allowed him to play over veteran defenseman Robert Bortuzzo throughout the playoffs.
Edmundson scored a goal and eight assists during the regular season but maintained an even rating. Whether more of his offensive game will transition to the NHL remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Edmundson is an NHL-ready defenseman, and should remain on the Blues roster next season.
In just his second season of OHL hockey in 2010-11, Jordan Binnington manned the crease for the Attack and, despite a poor showing early in the playoffs, was the OHL Championship hero after winning two straight games against the Windsor Spitfires. He followed that up with an impressive regular season showing but did not have the same success in the OHL playoffs, losing the crease to Scott Stajcer.
2012-13 proved to be Binnington’s best season yet, after he posted a 2.17 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in a whopping 50 regular season games. The Attack made it to the Western Conference Semi-finals but lost to the Plymouth Whalers. He earned himself a World Juniors selection from Team Canada but played in just two games behind Malcolm Subban.
Binnington has spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Wolves after playing a full season in the ECHL. Though the Wolves have had little success recently, Binnington has played well as their number one goalie and split time with Pheonix Copley this season. He started 45 games last season versus this year’s 41, and his numbers dipped. In his one game of NHL relief action, Binnington made three saves on four shots versus the Carolina Hurricanes. Nevertheless, Binnington is a hard-working talent in a crowded system, and it will be interesting to see how the Blues proceed with their goaltending situation in the offseason.
After two seasons at the junior level, Yannick Veilleux became a reliable two-way scoring winger and put up impressive numbers in 2011-12. He scored 27 goals and 31 assists in 59 games and ended the season with a +21 rating. He was also a point-per-game player with five goals and six assists in the QMJHL playoffs. In 2012-13, Veilleux was traded to a contending team and had a great season with the Moncton Wildcats. He finished the season with 34 goals and 39 assists in 65 games before getting swept in the playoffs.
Discipline has always been a problem and Veilleux is having the same trouble at the pro level. While his offensive numbers and defensive instincts are improving, he continues to take unnecessary penalties and lacks the true offensive upside to be a consistent contributor. A restricted free agent, Veilleux is one player the Blues will have to make a hard decision on whether to qualify him.
5th round, 132nd overall: Niklas Lundstrom, G, AIK (SHL)
NHL Games: 0
While his development seemed to have stalled, Niklas Lundstrom showed tremendous promise as a youngster. He was playing through the ranks of Sweden’s top hockey leagues and excelled on the international stage. On the heels of a fantastic season in 2011-12, his most impressive stint was in 2012-13 when he played four games for Sweden at the U20 WJC and posted a 1.60 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.
Since 2012-13, Lundstrom has been inconsistent. He had a lackluster 2013-14 in Sweden – spending most of it on loan to Södertälje of the Allsvenskan – before making his way to North America in 2014-15 where he spent his first season in the ECHL for conditioning. There, his .895 was well below league average, and that is a very poor tell for a goaltender.
This season, Lundstrom received a four-game trial with the Wolves but was traded to the Edmonton Oilers. He played four games with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL before returning to the ECHL.
Lundstrom managed to get a contract with Björklöven of the Allsvenskan, so it remains to be seen whether he can regain his form there.
6th round, 162nd overall: Ryan Tesink, LW, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
NHL Games: 0
Ryan Tesink had above average seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs – where he won the Memorial Cup in 2011 and a second consecutive QMJHL title in 2012 – and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during his long junior career but never really excelled in any area. A player with a little more will than skill, Tesink was a good skater and forechecker but was inconsistent in both zones. The biggest downfall for Tesink was always the injuries. He rarely played a full season but seemed to find his stride in the playoffs. These displays of character helped him secure an entry-level contract from the Blues in 2013.
Tesink finished his junior career in 2013-14 and joined the Alaska Aces of the ECHL the next season. Since 2014-15, he has split time between the Aces and the Quad City Mallards and seems far from an NHL opportunity. Although the Blues do not have a surplus of winger prospects in the system, it would seem like a qualifying offer is a long-shot for this restricted free agent.
7th round, 192nd overall: Teemu Eronen, D, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga)
NHL Games: 0
A re-draft candidate with some offensive upside, Teemu Eronen was a European prospect playing in his second full season in the Finnish Liiga and did well as a young blueliner. He spent several years in Finland and never made the trip to North America, however, instead making the move to the KHL in 2014-15 where he has played for two Russian clubs to date. With his style and skills more suited for European hockey, Eronen will likely stay overseas for the remainder of his pro hockey career.
Hockey’s Future looks back at the 2011 NHL Draft of the St. Louis Blues in the video below, which includes draft footage of Joel Edmundson and Jordan Binnington.
Notable Playoff Performances
Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson deserve the most credit for their playoff performances after securing starting gigs and becoming a major part of the Blues roster. While Fabbri has been the talk of the town, Parayko and Edmundson have been reliable defensemen throughout the season and gained plenty of experience after an action-packed postseason. Both Parayko and Edmundson have great size and have used that to their advantage. While their postseason scoring totals were something to forget, their overall performance, especially in the first two rounds, were very impressive.
At the junior level, Vince Dunn, Chandler Yakimowicz and Samuel Blais enjoyed playoff success with their respective teams and played a major part in their success. While Yakimowicz played with the star-studded cast of the London Knights, Blais and Dunn have become primary contributors for the Charlottetown Islanders and Niagara IceDogs, respectively.
Yakimowicz had two goals and four assists in 18 games as the London Knights captured an OHL title and the Memorial Cup. Despite that, the Blues did not sign the 2014 sixth-rounder, who plays a checking style of game. Both Blais and Dunn, on the other hand, were eliminated relatively early in the postseason despite individual success. Blais finished with four goals and 15 assists in 12 playoff games while Dunn finished with an impressive five goals and seven assists in 12 games as well, after returning from injury.
Ville Husso is another great prospect in the Blues system that is enjoying success elsewhere. He was the go-to netminder for Helsinki of Liiga and carried his team to a finals appearance. Despite an amazing individual save percentage of .935, HIFK lost in the finals to Tappara.
Last but certainly not least, Austin Poganski’s season seems to be a consistent topic as 2015-16 comes to a close. He made incredible strides in his game to not only help lead the University of North Dakota to the Frozen Four, but helped them take home the National Championship. He has been a great surprise this year and should continue to grow as a solid two-way player.
Player of the Month
It is truly difficult to give this honor to any other Blues prospect. It was a banner year for the Blues, bringing three rookies on board in Parayko, Edmundson and Fabbri, and enjoying some great results from it. However, Robby Fabbri carried his success right through the NHL playoffs. Even though the Blues lost to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final, Fabbri did not look out of place while scoring four goals with 11 assists in 20 NHL playoff games.
He secured a top-six role during this period and was a major part of the Blues’ postseason success against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. He finished the month of May with 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games despite scoring just a goal and an assist against the Sharks. After a very impressive rookie campaign, Fabbri looks to be a high-end offensive threat going into the 2016-17 season and one of the early steals of an exceptional 2014 draft.