Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made two giant splashes during round one of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, trading forward Jori Lehtera in exchange for Brayden Schenn and trading Ryan Reaves to get back into the first round. With all of the excitement, Blues fans seemed to forget that the draft wasn’t over and that the Blues made another four draft picks on day two.
The Blues selected Robert Thomas of the London Knights with the 20th overall pick in the draft before trading Lehtera, their 27th pick (obtained from Washington in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade) and a conditional pick in 2018 for Brayden Schenn.
Then the Blues traded Reaves and their lone second-round draft pick for pick 31 and forward Oskar Sundqvist. With the 31st pick, they selected Russian prospect Klim Kostin of the Dynamo Moskva and may have landed themselves the steal of the draft. Had Kostin not had shoulder problems last season he likely would have been a top-10 draft choice. Kostin was NHL’s Central Scouting’s number one rated European prospect.
So, in case you missed it, and even if you didn’t, let’s take a look at the rest of St. Louis’ 2017 draft choices.
Round 4, Pick 113 – Alexei Toropchenko
Position: Right wing
Height / Weight: 6-foot-3, 187 pounds
After trading their second-round draft pick to Pittsburgh, the Blues would have to wait until Round 4 to make their next selection. With the 113th pick, they selected Alexei Toropchenko.
The 18-year-old was not a highly-regarded prospect for most of the 2016-17 season but as the draft closed in, Toropchenko’s stock began to rise. TheDraftAnalyst.com ranked him at 208 pre-September, but Toropchenko ended up at 62 in their final rankings. His stock improved due to his breakout season with HK MVD Balashikha of the MHL, where he tallied 31 points in 42 games.
Toropchenko fits the mold of a Blues forward. He is a two-way player with size that is still growing into his 6-foot-3, 187-pound frame. He is known for his ability to change speeds and has an accelerating burst in breakaway situations. Nicknamed the “garbage man” by his teammates for his uncanny ability to wreak havoc in front of the net and put rebounds home. Okay, not really, but he is great in front of the net. Toropchenko will only improve as he continues to grow into his already big frame.
He also has a connection with Kostin, the Blues 31st overall pick. They were teammates during the Ivan Hlinka tournament in 2016-17 and they played together for Dynamo Moscow’s U-17 team. Toropchenko had 13 goals and 11 assists in 30 games, while Kostin had 10 goals and five assists in 10 games.
Round 5, Pick 130 – David Noël
Height / Weight: 6-foot-1, 172 pounds
After taking three forwards to start the draft, Armstrong and the Blues began to address the defense and added the first of three defensemen in David Noel of the Val-d’Or Foreurs.
Noel was not on scouting radars during the beginning of his 2016-17 campaign but like Toropchenko his stock continued to rise as the year went on. His best ranking at the time of the draft was from International Scouting Services at 87. NHL Central Scouting ranked him at 136.
The Quebec native was traded midway through the season from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens to Val-d’Or. Noel tallied 14 points with Chicoutimi in 36 games and had 18 points in 29 games with an increased role with Val-d’Or.
He described himself as an “offensive-defenseman with a great shot” in a post-draft interview with Fox Sports Blues reporter Andy Strickland. His great shot from the point landed him on the power play during the second half of 2016-17. One-timers are Noel’s specialty as he often scores his goals from cross-ice passes. He has some work to do in the physicality department but he does finish checks and will not shy away from dropping the gloves if provoked.
Don’t expect Noel on the NHL roster for a few years, but he is talented and if he can add strength and size while developing a more rounded game, he may wind up wearing the blue note on his sweater in the future.
Round 6, Pick 175 – Trenton Bourque
Height / Weight: 6-foot-2, 201 pounds
The second of three consecutive defensemen chosen by the Blues was Canadian Trenton Bourque of the Owen Sound Attack.
Bourque is nothing like previous pick David Noel. Scoring and this 19-year-old defenseman do not go hand in hand. He did dish 13 helpers last season but Bourque went goalless. In fact, he has not scored a goal since 2013-14 during a midget AAA game.
In 2014, the Sudbury Wolves described Bourque as a guy who makes smart passes and has a great transition game.
“He really can skate; that’s one thing you’ll notice with most of the players we drafted this year, they’ve really got the ability to skate. He’s probably going to be the fastest skater in (Development) Camp. Blues director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong said post-draft, “He can really push the pace from the back side, he has that elite NHL skating quality, and we’re excited to get him where we did.”
Round 6, Pick 175 – Anton Andersson
Height / Weight: 6-foot-4, 216 pounds
The fact that the Blues had no defensemen to play at the junior level this upcoming season is a good indicator of why they opted to close the draft with another defenseman to complete the three-peat. At pick 175 the Blues went with Anton Andersson from Luleå HF J20.
Andersson was unranked going into the draft but with a big 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame at 18 years old, that alone is worth a shot at pick 175.
“He’s a big man. He’s someone that is, as I would say, raw. Here’s a guy that is six-foot-four, he can skate, he plays an aggressive style of game, and he tries to make a difference on both sides of the puck,” Armstrong said post-draft. “He’s got to learn to settle down, and he’s a ways away. He’s a very raw player, but there’s some good qualities with his size and his athletic ability, and the aggressiveness that he plays the game with. We’re excited about him.”
He scored 24 points over 31 games in Sweedish junior leagues last season.
We will get closer looks at Thomas, Kostin, Toropchenko, and Noel at the Blues prospect camp that takes place June 28-July 1.