The St. Louis Blues have three picks in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft, possessing the 10th, 25th, and 29th overall picks; both of the later first-round picks were acquired before the trade deadline in the Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly deals.
The Blues could benefit greatly from adding a top-tier defenseman in the 2023 Draft. However, they have a major decision to make with the 10th pick, and the depth of this draft class makes it an even harder choice. Let’s explore the idea of the Blues taking a defenseman with the 10th pick.
The Top Defensemen in the 2023 Class
In the 2022 Draft, there were four defensemen taken in the top 10, but I believe there’s a less than zero percent chance that will happen again this year. There are several defensemen that have made their way up from the second round to the first round in recent mock drafts, as the evolution of rankings for blueliners has been crazy over the past few months.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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The defenseman that has long been thought of as the first one off the board is David Reinbacher. One of the most popular picks in mock drafts is Reinbacher going sixth to the Arizona Coyotes, and he’s more than likely the most NHL-ready defenseman in this class. It wouldn’t stun me to see him available for the Blues with the 10th pick, and they should consider him if that’s the case.
Reinbacher would be an exciting fit for the Blues, as the way that he plays could mesh really well on their blue line. With that said, there’s no doubt that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong should consider him if he’s available:
“Reinbacher is a force in transition, active in all three zones, and proficient at generating defensive stops. He’s a powerful, agile skater, but where he stands out for me is his commitment and ability to read the play and then react as a quality defensive defenseman.He’s playing massive minutes as a first-time draft-eligible skater in Switzerland’s top men’s league.”Marek Novotny, EP Rinkside
As for other defensemen in this class, there’s a lot of intrigue for them, with players like Axel Sandin Pellikka, Tom Wallinder, Dmitri Simashev, Oliver Bonk, and Tanner Molendyk. But while I like these prospects, none of them seem to make sense as top-10 selections for the Blues. I expect Sandin Pellikka, Wallinder, and Simashev to be taken within the top 20 picks, while Bonk and Molendyk could be available when the Blues come back up to the stage at 25 or 29; one of my favorite players in this class is Bonk. In my opinion, there are several scenarios where he ends up with the Blues.
Bonk is one of the best two-way defenders in this class, and he’s been rising up draft boards for quite some time now. He joins Reinbacher as of the best transition defensemen in the class. If developed properly, he could be a top-four staple for years to come in the NHL. It would not surprise me to see the Blues take Bonk in the later stages of the first round, but they should not even consider taking him with the 10th pick.
Blues Should Be Careful With This Pick
The 2023 draft class has far too many quality forward prospects for the Blues to take a defenseman in the top 10. Out of all the defensemen that could go in the first round, I like every single one, and that’s why I think the Blues will take one late in the first round. Their focus with the 10th pick should be on whatever forward is the best player available according to their board.
It’s clear that the Blues will be making a selection with the 10th selection, as there are no trades out there that would make them move the pick. They need to be careful with this choice, and drafting a prospect like Oliver Moore, if he’s available, would be wise. The direction of this franchise depends on everything they do this summer, and over-drafting a defenseman with the 10th pick, unless it’s Reinbacher, would be a bad move.