Blues’ Biggest Draft Misses of the 2000s

Before Doug Armstrong became the general manager of the St. Louis Blues, the club had some struggles in the 2000s decade that allowed them to have some premium picks at the top of multiple drafts.

The early 2000s saw the Blues have some quality regular seasons that led to late first-round picks, similar to the last five seasons for the club. The middle of the 2000s saw them have some lost seasons leading to early to middle first-round picks.

St. Louis Blues Doug Armstrong
St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Roberson)

They made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs six times from 2000 to 2009 but did see three straight seasons of missing them altogether. As with most professional sports drafts, they are very hit or miss, and that could be said about the Blues’ drafting over this period.

2000 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The Blues had the 30th pick in this draft. They took forward Jeff Taffe with the first-round selection. Taffe only played in 180 NHL games and none of them were with St. Louis. The rights to him were traded to the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the Keith Tkachuk trade.

After the first round, the Blues didn’t make any real notable picks. Four players never played in the NHL and the other four played less than 100 games each. Third-round pick Justin Papineau scored 3 points in 12 games for the Blues and played 81 total NHL games.

Jeff Taffe
Jeff Taffe with the Hershey Bears (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The 2000 Draft was less than ideal for the Blues, the overall draft wasn’t the strongest, so it is understandable they didn’t come out looking great after this draft.

Biggest Miss

Forward Antoine Vermette (Pick 55, Ottawa Senators)

The Blues chose Taffe at 30, but Antoine Vermette was considered to be a top-15 forward going into this draft, so it would not have been that large of a reach had they taken him at the end of the first round.

Antoine Vermette Ducks
Antoine Vermette, Anaheim Ducks, Oct. 24, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He was taken ten spots ahead of where the team was in the second round, so they would have had to grab him at the end of the first. He was a very solid player at the pro level, playing a grand total of 1,046 games.

His two-way game helped pave the way for his lengthy career, one where he played for five different teams from 2000-01 to 2017-18. Twice he finished within the top-20 in voting for the Selke Trophy, for his two-way game.

He played 20 games in the playoffs in 2015, when he won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. He contributed 4 goals and 3 assists on that run and scored the double-overtime winner in the Western Conference Final in Game 4 to even up the series.

His best regular season was 2009-10 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he excelled in all zones and tallied 65 points over an 82-game season.

2001 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The Blues did not have a first-round pick in this draft. They picked Jay McClement with their first pick, a second-round pick, at 57. McClement was a solid forward for the team for about six seasons.

McClement broke in with the club in 2005-06. He scored 20-plus points in his first five seasons with the Blues and a couple of those seasons he was in the voting for the Selke Trophy.

Jay McClement
Jay McClement (THW Archives)

He was just a solid two-way forward and was valued highly as a second-round choice. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in a deal that involved Kevin Shattenkirk in 2011. He had a lengthy NHL career that saw him play 906 games.

As for the other Blues’ selections in 2001, their eighth-round pick was forward Petr Cajanek. Cajanek was 25 years old when drafted, he played in a couple of Czech leagues before playing four NHL seasons. He scored 153 points in 269 NHL games from 2002-03 to 2006-07, after a 48 point season, he was put on waivers by the Blues.

Overall, the Blues had two players in this draft that played at the NHL and they both had a couple of solid seasons wearing the blue note. Not a flashy draft, and not a very long term solution type draft, but not awful.

Biggest Miss

Forward Patrick Sharp (Pick 95, Philadelphia Flyers)

Six spots after the Blues selected Tuomas Nissinen, a goaltender that never played in the NHL, the Flyers landed Patrick Sharp. Sharp played in 939 games and was a big part of some very good championship teams.

Patrick Sharp Blackhawks
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

His career started out pretty slow with the Flyers, but really took off when he landed with the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored 20 goals in his first season with the Blackhawks and scored 62 points a season later, nearly winning the Selke.

Related: NHL’s Top 5 Playmakers of the Decade

His career-high came in 2013-14 when he scored 34 goals and 44 assists for 78 points, he finished top-20 in voting for the Hart Trophy.

Not to mention, he was apart of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in Chicago. In the 2010 playoffs, he scored 22 points in 22 games, helping lead the Blackhawks to their first of three Cups over the next six seasons.

He finished his career with 287 goals and 333 assists for 620 points, not a bad career for the 95th player selected in the 2001 Draft.

2002 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The 2002 Draft was a bad one for the Blues. They selected nine players and only two of them played in the NHL. Their first selection was at 48 where they took forward Alexei Shkotov.

The players that reached the NHL were sixth-round pick DJ King and eighth-round pick Tom Koivisto. Those two combined played a total of 140 games in the league.

King played 101 of his 118 games with the Blues over a span of four seasons. He scored 4 goals and 5 assists in that time. Koivisto was 28 when he was drafted and played one season with the Blues where he tallied 2 goals and 4 assists in 22 games.

This was a bad draft for the Blues, no way around it. They got little-to-no contribution from the players in this class and it doesn’t help when your first pick is near the 50th selection.

Something that can Blues’ fans feel better about this draft is that Jay Bouwmeester was the third overall selection by the Florida Panthers in this draft and became a legendary player in the St. Louis franchise.

It was a rough draft for a good team at the time, one that finished 43-27-8 in the 2001-02 season under the coaching of Joel Quenneville.

Biggest Miss

Defenseman Duncan Keith (Pick 54, Chicago Blackhawks)

Another longtime rival player, Duncan Keith was the 54th pick in this draft by Chicago. He quickly became one of the best defensemen in the entire league.

Duncan Keith Blackhawks
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks, Nov. 9, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Over his 15-year career, Keith has been an all-decade defenseman with multiple accolades to back that up. His first breakthrough season with an award was 2009-10 when he scored 69 points and won his first Norris Trophy.

He was a huge factor in the Blackhawks dynasty where they won three Stanley Cups in six years. In fact, he won the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP in 2015.

He won another Norris Trophy in 2013-14 when he scored 61 points and played nearly 25 minutes per game. He notably finished within the top-10 for the Norris on five other occasions. He has 610 points in 1,138 games.

The Blues passed on him to take Shkotov with the 48th pick. Not only did Keith become a Hall of Fame-level defenseman, but he also went to their biggest rival and stuck it to them multiple times.

2003 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The club drafted a few good players in this draft. They selected David Backes in the second round, who was the captain of the team for multiple seasons and has scored 557 points in 950 games. He tallied 460 of those points with the Blues.

David Backes
David Backes (Annie Devine/ The Hockey Writers)

In the fifth round, they took Lee Stempniak. He played three and a half seasons with St. Louis and scored 130 points in 233 games. They traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the infamous Alexander Steen trade – I’d say it worked out overall for the Blues.

Their first pick in this draft was forward Shawn Belle at No. 30 in the first round. He played just 20 games and scored one point, but none with the Blues as they traded his rights to the Dallas Stars.

Their fourth-round pick Alexander Bolduc played 65 games in the NHL. And the other draftee that played in the league was fifth-round goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, playing one game.

Biggest Miss

Forward Patrice Bergeron (Pick 45, Boston Bruins)

The Blues selected Belle at 30 and the Bruins landed Patrice Bergeron 15 picks later. He’s become one of the best players of this fairly loaded draft class. Sixteen players in this draft have scored over 500 points in the NHL, Bergeron ranks third in points in this class, behind Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal.

Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He’s spent nearly a decade as the best defensive forward in the league, and centers one of the best forward lines in the game for the past few seasons with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. (from ‘Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron a player for the ages,’ Boston Herald, 02/04/2019)

He has four Selke trophies to his name, including six other top-five finishes in Selke voting. His career-high season was actually 2018-19 when he was 33, where he tallied 32 goals and 47 assists.

He won the King Clancy award in 2012-13 for his leadership qualities on and off the ice. And to top it all off, he was a large part of the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup run, where he scored 15 points in 20 games and carried a plus/minus of 15.

He could have eventually slotted in behind Pavol Demitra if the Blues had taken him, he would have quickly become a top-six center for the team.

2004 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The club selected goaltender Marek Schwarz with the 17th pick in this draft, he played just six games in the NHL. Their second-round pick made an impact at the professional level, and that was forward Carl Soderberg.

Soderberg was traded to the Bruins in 2007 for goaltender Hannu Toivonen, and has since played 552 games and scored 280 points. The other two picks that produced in the NHL were defensemen Nikita Nikitin and Roman Polak.

Roman Polak
Roman Polak (TSN Photography – 2011)

They took Nikitin in the fifth round with the 136th pick, he scored 9 points in 48 games in St. Louis before a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He finished his NHL career in 2016 after 259 games.

Related: Top 10 Hockey Celebrations of All-Time

Polak is still in the league, with the Stars. He was the 180th pick in this draft. He was a solid defensive defenseman for the Blues from 2006-07 to 2013-14, tallying 79 points in 424 games. He’s played in 806 games up to this stage of his career.

Biggest Miss

Defenseman Mike Green (Pick 29, Washington Capitals)

Mike Green was picked at 29, just 12 picks after the Blues picked Schwarz at 17. He has since played a terrific and long career in the league.

Mike Green Detroit Red Wings
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He had an incredible run early in his career with the Capitals. In his age-22 season, he scored 56 points in 82 games. He took it a step further over the next two seasons, tallying 73 points in 2008-09 and 76 points in 2009-10. He finished second in Norris Trophy voting in both of those seasons, behind Zdeno Chara one season and Duncan Keith in the other.

His point production really fell off after those two massive seasons, but he still remained a solid and reliable defenseman. He is up to 501 points in 880 games for his career and could have seriously contributed to the Blues, especially in his early seasons.

2005 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The 2004-05 season was lost to the lockout and the 2005 Draft was obviously considered the Sidney Crosby draft, rightfully so. The Blues made a good choice in selecting TJ Oshie with the 24th pick.

Oshie played seven seasons and over 400 games with the Blues, scoring 310 points and being one of the premier forwards on the roster for many of those seasons. He was dealt to the Capitals in 2015 and has since scored 257 points in over 300 games with them. He was apart of the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning club in Washington.

T.J. Oshie
T.J. Oshie St. Louis Blues March 5, 2015 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the third round, they chose Ben Bishop with the 85th pick. He only played 13 games in his hometown before being traded to the Senators, and most of his success has come with the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Three times he’s finished top-three in Vezina Trophy voting for the league’s best goaltender and twice he’s finished top-10 in Hart Trophy voting as MVP. He’s won over 200 games and has a career save percentage (SV%) of .921.

The club took enforcer Ryan Reaves in the fifth round of this draft, a pick that was worthwhile for the team. He quickly became a fan favorite as a tough, enforcing forward who certainly wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves. He appeared in 419 games with the Blues and was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 for Oskar Sundqvist and a draft pick that became Klim Kostin, a good return for St. Louis.

After those players who appeared in over 100 games, the team drafted Nick Drazenovic in the sixth round, who played in twelve games and Scott Jackson in the second round who played in one. Overall, a pretty good draft for the Blues and one that they have seen some long term value in.

Biggest Miss

Forward Paul Stastny (Pick 44, Colorado Avalanche)

Paul Stastny was there for the Blues in the second round. They went with Jackson instead, and he played in one game for his career, so that didn’t work out. Stastny ended up playing three and a half seasons for St. Louis, so that helps a little bit when justifying not taking him at 37.

Paul Stastny Vegas Golden Knights
Paul Stastny, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He played some of his best hockey early in his career with the Colorado Avalanche. Nearly a point per game, 70-plus points in his first three full seasons and 36 points in 45 games in 2008-09.

Since his years in Colorado and St. Louis, he’s been one of the top forwards on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. In 2018-19, he scored 42 points in just 50 games and then had 38 points in 71 games before the suspension of the 2019-20 season.

He’s carried on the tradition of the Stastny family in the NHL, as he’s played in nearly 1,000 games and has scored a good amount of points (726) to go with it. Not only is he a good player but he’s a tough one too, and that matters. He could have stepped in and been a good forward for St. Louis in 2006-07 as they were trying to avoid being the miserable team they were in 2005-06.

2006 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

Erik Johnson was the first-overall pick in the 2006 Draft, a big 6-foot-4 defenseman. He played 203 games over three seasons with the Blues before being traded to the Avalanche in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk and a couple of assets.

Johnson has been a solid defenseman in Colorado, with 573 games under his belt there. He’s played 20-plus minutes per game in every season with the Avalanche. It’s worthy of note that Johnson has the most career points among defensemen in the 2005 Draft.

Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues
Erik Johnson (Bridget Samuels

He’s never been that flashy, high-end, first-overall caliber player, but he’s been solid. It takes a lot to be able to play in nearly 800 NHL games, which he is nearing being at 776 now. He likely wasn’t the right choice for the Blues looking back, but he’s had a long and solid career.

The other first-round pick for the Blues was Patrik Berglund. He was a great forward for the club over ten seasons, scoring 322 points before being dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan O’Reilly.

After the first round, the Blues saw three of their other picks play a total of 86 games, so not much worked out after the first round.

All in all, the team did pretty well, Johnson was solid with the team for a few seasons and Berglund was a key forward for multiple seasons and was a piece of one of the most significant trades in franchise history.

Biggest Miss

Forward Nicklas Backstrom (Pick 4, Washington Capitals)

Nicklas Backstrom was there for the Blues at number one if they wanted to go that route. He’s turned out to be one of the best pure passers of his era, being the second player of a tremendous duo in Washington with Alex Ovechkin.

Nicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

He is nearing the 700-assist mark with already 684 of them in 956 games. While never winning the Selke Trophy, he’s been in the top-20 for voting on multiple occasions. He’s been one of the best two-way forwards in a draft full them. He also has the most points of any 2006 draftee with 927, 66 more than the second-best.

2007 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

Lars Eller was one of three first-round selections made by the Blues in 2007. Him and Ian Cole, who was picked at 18, have been solid NHLers. The third one, David Perron, who was selected at 26, has been an excellent player in the organization.

Eller played a grand total of seven games for the Blues, scoring two goals in those games. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 2010 for goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

(Photo: Andy Martin Jr)
Lars Eller (Photo: Andy Martin Jr)

He tallied 154 points in under 500 games with the Canadiens before being dealt to the Capitals in exchange for picks in 2016. He’s been extremely consistent in his four seasons with Washington, with 138 points. He was a part of the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning team, where he scored seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points during that run.

Cole played 167 games with the Blues, and then was traded to the Penguins and won two Stanley Cups there. He’s still an active player and has played in 541 games, a solid NHL career.

Perron has been with the Blues on three different occasions and was a key part of the 2019 Stanley Cup team. He’s scored 550 points in 850 games.

The Blues did not get much from any other player in this draft, sixth-round pick Anthony Peluso played 148 games. It was solid draft for the Blues with the Perron pick making it a big one.

Biggest Miss

Forward Jamie Benn (Pick 129, Dallas Stars)

No doubt that Benn was an absolute steal in the fifth round of this draft. He’s played over 800 games already by the age of 30. He is another player in the Blues’ draft-miss category that is the captain of his team.

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

They could have had him in the fourth round at either pick 96 or 100, but they took defenseman Cade Fairchild and forward Travis Erstad, they played five games total.

Benn now has 300 goals in his career to go along with all of his accolades as well. He’s been voted into multiple All-Star games and won the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15.

His Art Ross season saw him score 87 points in 82 games, including 52 assists, a career-high. Despite having a feud of some sort with the Blues, there’s no doubt that he’s been an excellent player at this level and is worthy of a mention here for this piece.

2008 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

The Blues did well in the first round of this draft, taking a franchise defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo, with the fourth pick. He’s played over 700 games in St. Louis, scoring 450 points and is second all-time in franchise history for points by a defenseman. He’s only two points behind Al MacInnis.

While he’s never won any major awards, he’s consistently produced every season and has been the most reliable two-way defenseman in most of his seasons. He has three top-10 Norris Trophy voting finishes. And most notably, he was the captain of the first Blues Stanley Cup team.

Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After the first round, they took Jake Allen in the second round with the 34th pick. Allen has been a solid goaltender in most of his seasons, and most recently he’s been a very reliable backup behind Jordan Binnington. He’s second all-time in Blues history with 248 wins, just three behind Mike Liut.

In the third round, they took forward Jori Lehtera, a player who was solid for the club over three seasons and 218 games. He scored 44 points in his first season in 2014-15. This worked out as he was apart of the trade to bring Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.

Overall, it was a very good draft class for the Blues with players who have contributed a good amount to the franchise. This was one of the stronger classes of the decade with their best first round choice, Pietrangelo.

Biggest Miss

Defenseman Roman Josi (Pick 38, Nashville Predators)

Could you imagine a Blues’ defensive pairing with Pietrangelo and Roman Josi? The Blues passed on the Nashville Predators’ captain twice in the second round. St. Louis took forward Philip McRae at 33 and goaltender Allen at 34.

Roman Josi Nashville Predators
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Josi has been underrated for his entire career and people are finally now realizing just how good he is. The main reason for people noticing is likely because he’s putting up consistently solid goal numbers now.

At the pause of the 2019-20 season, he was already at a career-high mark in goals with 16, tied for second among defensemen with Pietrangelo. He’s become the best player on the blue line for a Predators franchise that has had loaded defensive depth for many years.

He has four Norris Trophy finishes in the top-10 and is a three-time All-Star. His numbers line up fairly well with the Pietrangelo for his career – they both have 109 goals and over 400 points. Another similarity is that they both average over 24 minutes per game for their careers.

There is no way of knowing if the Blues would have held onto Josi if they’d drafted him, but if they did, they would have one of the best pairings in the league without a doubt.

2009 Draft

Overview of Blues’ Picks

This could be the worst Blues draft of the decade based on the number of games played between the players and the total production. There is a catch though, as this draft left them in a position to succeed a year later. With the 17th pick, they selected defenseman David Rundblad.

Rundblad was traded to the Senators in 2010, for a first-round pick, that became Vladimir Tarasenko. So despite the fact that Rundblad never played a game for the Blues, he helped them get a pick that led them to choosing a franchise goal scorer with Tarasenko.

Related: 2009 NHL Entry Draft – 5 Forgotten Picks

Rundblad played in 113 games and was the only player drafted by St. Louis to appear in an NHL game in this class. Second-round selection Brett Ponich played in the WHL, AHL, and ECHL from 2006-07 to 2015-16, but never reached the NHL.

The Blues’ bad 2009 Draft led to what was a great 2010 Draft, so that helps make up for this bad draft.

Biggest Miss

Forward Ryan O’Reilly (Pick 33, Colorado Avalanche)

We all know how O’Reilly ended up with the Blues in 2018, but his career before St. Louis was pretty good too. He played right away as well, even as a second-round pick, he was with the Avalanche in 2009-10.

Ryan O'Reilly Avalanche
Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche (Icon SMI)

He scored 55 points in 81 games at the age of 20 and finished 14th in Selke Trophy voting. He scored 246 points in 427 games with the Avalanche before being traded to the Sabres in 2015.

He played three seasons in Buffalo, but it really didn’t work out. He was clearly unhappy there, saying he “lost some of his love for the game.” The Sabres traded him to the Blues in 2018 in a notorious deal that sent Berglund, Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick to Buffalo.

He’s quickly become an all-time franchise player and fan favorite in St. Louis. His first season with the Blues was a career one, where he scored 77 points, winning a Selke and Conn Smythe Trophy for being the leader on the Stanley Cup run.

In 2019-20, he continued that star play, scoring 61 points in 71 games and continuing his stellar two-way game. O’Reilly wasn’t picked by the Blues, but it all worked out in the end for St. Louis.

Takeaways from this Decade of Drafts for the Blues

When you look at the big picture of the Blues drafting from 2000 to 2009, you think about some of the trades they made and some of their early-round misses.

In 2003, they got a future captain and solid forward in Backes. Stempniak, who they traded for Steen, was a fifth-round pick that year.

In 2005, they picked up a fan favorite with Oshie and Reaves who was a worthwhile player for the team. They did have a bad miss in round two with Jackson.

In 2006, they picked Johnson first overall, who is a good NHL player. Berglund in the late portion of the first round, who played many good seasons in St. Louis and was apart of the O’Reilly trade.

They got Perron in 2007, Pietrangelo in 2008, and that was about it for successful long Blues careers. It was a fairly normal decade of drafts, not great, but not bad. They found some franchise players and had a lot of early misses. It all worked out eventually, as they opened up the 2010 decade with an excellent draft.

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