Blues 2000 draft evaluation

By HF Staff

The St. Louis Blues made nine selections in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft under GM Larry Pleau.
Four of the picks have played NHL games, totaling 180, for a draft class average of 20 NHL games per pick.

The two best selections, Jeff Taffe and Justin Papineau, were traded by the Blues to other NHL teams. Reinhard Divis and Troy Riddle remain with the St. Louis organization, while Craig Weller is now with the AHL Hartford Wolfpack.

Jeff Taffe, C (1st round, 30th overall, NCAA University of Minnesota)
NHL games played: 79
Status: NHL player

The Blues hung onto their first round selection for only a year before trading Taffe to the Phoenix Coyotes along with Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy and the Blues’ first round pick in 2001 for Keith Tkachuk in March of 2001.

Taffe left the University of Minnesota at the end of the 2001-02 season, a year early, to turn pro with the Coyotes. He played 20 games with Phoenix in 2002-03, and 59 in 2003-04. Overall he has 22 points in 79 NHL games.

During the lockout Taffe played for the affiliate Utah Grizzlies, but only 27 games, sidelined with a broken orbital and cheekbone. He should resume his NHL career next season.

David Morisset, RW (2nd round, 65th overall, WHL Seattle Thunderbirds)
NHL games played: 4
Status: NHL bust

Morisset, known for his speed and hustle, was also traded early in his tenure with the Blues, to the Florida Panthers along with a 2002 fifth round draft pick for veteran forward Scott Mellanby in February of 2001.

Morisset played on the 2001 Canadian WJC team and advanced to Calder Cup Finals in his rookie pro 2001-02 season with Bridgeport. That same year, he played in four NHL games with the Panthers.

It was downhill for Morisset after that, however. In the 2002-03 season, he played just 30 games with the San Antonio Rampage, sidelined with shoulder and ankle injuries. He missed the entire 2003-04 season due to shoulder injury. Morisset was given a pro tryout with the Houston Aeros in 2004, but did not make the team. He played 30 games with the ECHL Idaho Steelheads, missing a chunk of the season again with injury.

Justin Papineau, C (3rd round, 75th overall, OHL Belleville Bulls)
NHL games played: 81
Status: NHL player

The Blues hung onto Papineau two years longer than Taffe and Morisset, trading him along with a second round pick in the 2003 Entry Draft in exchange for Chris Osgood and a third round pick in March 2003.

In 2003-04, Papineau made the NHL full-time, playing on the fourth line with the Islanders. During the lockout, he played for affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but managed only a disappointing 34 points in 59 games.

Antoine Bergeron, D (3rd round, 96th overall, QMJHL Val D’Or Foreurs)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

An unsigned draft pick by the Blues, Bergeron was invited to Los Angeles Kings development camp in 2002. He signed with the Kings ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals for the 2002-03 season where he had just seven points in 37 games. In 2003-04 he played just 10 games for the ECHL Trenton Titans, sidelined with an ankle injury. He was the only 2000 Blues draft pick who did not play professionally in 2004-05.

Troy Riddle, F (4th round, 129th overall, USHL Des Moines Buccaneers)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Drafted out of the USHL, Riddle spent four years at the University of Minnesota, a member of two national championship teams. He put up respectable numbers in the NCAA, 49 points in 44 games his senior year.

Riddle signed a contract with the Worcester IceCats in 2004, and spent 42 games with the team, and 14 games with the ECHL Peoria Rivermen. The 5’9 175-pound speedster had 15 points with the IceCats.

Riddle will be looking to sign with the Blues once the new CBA is worked out.

Craig Weller, D (5th round, 167th overall, AJHL Calgary Canucks)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Drafted out of the AJHL, Weller started at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2000-01, but only played six games there before moving on to the WHL Kootenay Ice. After helping Kootenay to a Memorial Cup in 2002, Weller declined to sign with the Blues so he could gain free agent status and re-join his junior coach within the Rangers organization. He signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers in July of 2002.

Since that time, he has played mostly for the Hartford Wolfpack. In 2004-05, the 6’4 215-pound bruiser had 19 points and 182 penalty minutes in 76 games for the Hartford Wolfpack. Not a fast skater, it’s unlikely that he will make it to the NHL. If he does, it would likely be as a winger, which he has played a bit of already.

Brett Lutes, LW (7th round, 229th overall, QMJHL Montreal Rocket)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Lutes, unsigned by the Blues, played out his junior eligibility with the Montreal Rocket. He played with the Phoenix Coyotes in the rookie tournament in Hull in 2002, but was not picked up by the organization. Lutes was a free agent invitee to Dallas Stars camp in 2003, but again not optioned. Lutes moved to St. Thomas University in 2003-04, and then turned pro in 2004-05 with the ECHL Bakersfield Condors where he had 37 points in 66 games.

Reinhard Divis, G (8th round, 261st overall, SEL Leksands IF)
NHL games played: 16
Status: NHL player/prospect

The only goaltender selected by the Blues in the 2000 draft, Divis was well overage at almost 25. He was brought to North America in 2001-02 and made his NHL debut during that year. In 2002-03 he played two NHL games, and in 2003-04, played in 13. During the lockout, Divis played for Heraklith VSV EC in the Austrian League. While unlikely to be an impact player in the NHL, Divis was a good pick for the Blues in the eighth round.

Lauri Kinos, D (9th round, 293rd overall, QMJHL Montreal Rocket)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Kinos was turning 20 years old at the time of his draft. He was signed by the Blues to a rookie contract and played three years in the minors, mostly with the ECHL Peoria Rivermen. In 2003-04, he returned to Europe where he played in the Finnish League. This past season he played 13 games in Finland, and 25 in Italy.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.