Revisiting Doug Armstrong’s Drafts – 2011

A few weeks ago, we began to review the St. Louis Blues’ drafts under general manager Doug Armstrong, starting in 2010. That was a good draft, as the Blues selected Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko in the first round, but was weaker in the later rounds. (Take a look at other entries below.)

The 2011 Entry Draft was just the opposite. Having surrendered their first-round pick in the trade that sent Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues were forced to make do with a bevy of picks in rounds two through seven, but in hindsight, they did well, especially with the explosive NHL arrival of Jordan Binnington.

Middle Rounds (2-4)

Ty Rattie (Portland Winterhawks, WHL), #32

In the Johnson trade, the Blues swapped their first-round pick for the Avalanche’s second. When that pick came up, they selected Ty Rattie, an undersized but potent scorer in the Western Hockey League (WHL). He had collected 79 points in 67 games during the regular season, then added 22 more points in 21 playoff games, en route to a Western Conference Championship alongside teammate Ryan Johansen.

Ty Rattie
Ty Rattie was the Blues’ highest draft pick in 2012, but his career never got out of first gear in St. Louis (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Rattie continued to dominate in the lower levels of hockey. He recorded 231 points over the next two seasons with the Winterhawks, and went on to have three 40-plus point seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL). He was even named playoff MVP in the WHL in 2013.

Unfortunately, Rattie could never put it together at the NHL level. The Blues were a strong team and opportunities were few, but in his 30 games with St. Louis, he recorded just eight points. He moved on to the Edmonton Oilers, but didn’t find much more success there. It’s hard to know why such a prolific junior and minor league scorer struggles to produce at the highest level, but Rattie hasn’t made it work yet. And if he can’t do it playing alongside Connor McDavid, who knows if he ever will?

Missed Opportunity: John Gibson, #39

It’s certainly understandable why the Blues selected Rattie where they did, and who knows if the chips would have fallen how they did with Gibson’s career had he been in another organization. But he’s one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL, and a goalie like that would cure a lot of the Blues’ ills.

Dmitrij Jaskin (HC Slavia Praha, Czech Extraliga), #41

The Blues’ own second-round pick occurred at 41, and they selected Dmitrij Jaskin, another winger out of the Czech Republic. He wasn’t a high point producer, but the team thought they saw something in his game and that he would become a good all-around player in the NHL.

Jaskin took a while to reach the top level. He even played a season in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats and collected 99 points in 51 games. He became a top prospect in the Blues’ system, but he never quite reached the high end of his potential. He’s a very serviceable, bottom-six, two-way forward, but in 266 games with the Blues, he collected only 61 points.

The Blues felt they had given Jaskin enough of an opportunity to prove himself and chose to waive him at the start of the 2018-19 season. The Washington Capitals claimed him, and gave him an opportunity at a fresh start.

Missed Opportunity: Brandon Saad, #43

Saad may be a sore spot right now, as he’s struggled ever since returning to the Chicago Blackhawks in the trade that sent Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets. But he certainly would have been an improvement on Jaskin. He was a great player in his first stint with Chicago and in his time with Columbus, and has three seasons of 50 points or more.

Joel Edmundson (Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL), #46

Armstrong returned to the WHL for the team’s third selection, taking defenseman Joel Edmundson, a large, left-side defender whose physicality appealed to them, at 46. St. Louis acquired this pick when they traded Brad Boyes to the Buffalo Sabres.

Joel Edmundson
Joel Edmundson (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Edmundson has developed into a very reliable top-four defenseman at the NHL level. He may not have the flash or speed of today’s best defenseman, but he brings an edge, endurance, and dependability to his play. It was a great get to finish off a busy second round.

Missed Opportunity: None

Yes, William Karlsson and Nikita Kucherov were selected after Edmundson (at 53 and 58, respectively), but it’s hard to say that the Blues missed out. Certainly, they’d trade Edmundson for either one today, but the big blueliner has served their needs well, and there were reasons that the two forwards were drafted later.

Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack, OHL), #88

Now we’ve come to the man, the myth, the living legend that is Jordan Binnington. The man that Blues’ fans have anointed as their savior first came to the organization with pick number 88 in the third round of the 2012 draft. St. Louis sent their own third round pick to the New York Rangers in exchange for Evgeny Grachyov, but had picked up a third round pick when they traded then-captain Eric Brewer to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Binnington played 42 games with Owen Sound in his draft year, and his numbers continued to improve the following two seasons. He played several seasons in the AHL and posted strong numbers, but for whatever reason never got a serious look with the parent club: until 2018-19.

Jodan Binnington
Binnington was a standout with OHL Owen Sound from 2009-10 to 2012-13 (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Binnington had a red hot start to his NHL career, and quickly displaced Jake Allen in the starter’s net. If he can become a successful NHL goalie, even at this relatively late stage, he’ll be a great find late in the third round.

Missed Opportunity: None

Who could possibly replace the greatest goalie in the history of man?

Yannick Veilleux (Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL) #102

With pick 102, the Blues took a chance on a 6-foot-2, 205 pound winger from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. Veilleux had a decent career in the juniors, but never got a shot in the NHL. He’s currently playing with the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. It’s not newsworthy that a fourth round player wasn’t a big hit in the NHL; however, the Blues were just a few picks short of a pretty great player.

Missed Opportunity: Johnny Gaudreau, #104

Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau
Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau went two picks after Veilleux in the fourth round (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Veilleux would be entirely forgettable, if not for the fact that the Calgary Flames chose Johnny Gaudreau two picks later. The small-but-mighty “Johnny Hockey” is three points shy of a point per game pace in his 358 game career, and has helped steer the Flames to become one of the better teams in the Western Conference. Of course, every team in the league passed on Gaudreau several times for him to fall here, but it’s especially painful to miss just two picks earlier.

Late Rounds (5-7)

Niklas Lundström (AIK IF, Swedish Elite League), #132

The Blues took their second goaltender with their fifth round pick. Nicklas Lundström played a grand total of 59 games in America across various stops in the ECHL and the AHL. He never amounted to anything near an NHL goaltender, though he’s having a strong season this year with HC Dukla Jihlava in the Czech second league, posting a 2.01 goals against average and a .918 save percentage in 21 games.

Missed Opportunity: None

Though Lundström was a bust, he was far from alone in the fifth round in 2011. The Blackhawks did draft the pesky Andrew Shaw at 139, but that’s hardly a franchise-altering miss.

Ryan Tesink (Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL), #162

The Blues selected Ryan Tesink in the sixth round, on the strength of a 35 point season with the Sea Dogs in his draft year. Since graduating juniors, he’s bounced around five different ECHL stops, including two with the Alaska Aces. He made his AHL debut this season with the San Diego Gulls, on loan from the Tulsa Oilers. He never made the NHL.

Missed Opportunity: None

It looks like Laurent Brossoit, who was chosen with pick 164, is developing into a pretty good NHL goaltender, but considering that the Blues had already selected two goalies in the 2011 draft, there was no chance they would have taken a third. No one else in the sixth round especially stands out, though a few others made the NHL.

Teemu Eronen (Jokerit, SM-liiga), #192

With their final pick, St. Louis took a shot on a smaller, lefty defenseman from Finland. As is often the case with seventh round picks, he never made it to the highest level. But Eronen has had a decent career playing in Europe, including a few seasons in that continent’s strongest league, the KHL. He’s now back in his native Finland with HIFK, having collected 25 points in 37 games this season.

Missed Opportunity: Jyrki Jokipakka, #195; Ryan Dzingel, # 204; Ondrej Palat, #208

If the Blues were intent on a Finnish defenseman, they backed the wrong horse, as Jyrki Jokipakka was chosen three picks later. He didn’t have a great NHL career, but he did at least play 150 games with the Flames and Stars, which is 150 more than Eronen can boast. Dzingel has developed into a solid middle-six center who has 33 points in 44 games this season. But the real miss here is Palat.

Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat
Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat was drafted with pick #208 in the 2011 draft (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite struggling with injuries throughout his career, Palat is one of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s famous “triplets,” along with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. He’s had three 50-plus point seasons, and he has 18 points in 30 games this season. It’s possible that Dzingel is the better player right now, but Palat has had the better career so far. Either way, the Blues would certainly have improved on a defender who never played in the NHL.

Final Grade: B

The Blues’ 2011 draft does not compare to their 2010 selection of two franchise-defining talents in the first round, but they still managed to get a number of NHL players, despite not having a first round pick. Edmundson and Binnington remain in the organization, and Jaskin played 266 games with the Blues, more than even Edmundson has yet reached.

Still, the Blues did not get a real difference maker in the 2011 draft, and missing so close on Gaudreau, one of the better all-around talents in the league, is a true disappointment in hindsight. It’s a fine draft, but nothing to write home about.