The St. Louis Blues have proven that drafting is an art in today’s game. Unfortunately they have proven this from a long history of questionable NHL draft picks, and how they’ve managed the development of those drafted. In recent years they have seemingly rectified the problem, so let’s hope that trend continues well into the future. Here are the Top 5 best draft picks the Blues have ever made:
Top 5 Best Draft Picks
#5 Nelson Emerson, 1985 NHL Draft (3rd round, 44th overall):
Though this pick may come as a surprise for some, Nelson Emerson had a prolific NHL career that spanned across 8 teams and 2 countries over 15 seasons. Though he may have bounced around more than he would’ve liked, the talented winger was known for being a hard-nosed guy who would score however he had to.
He was a great teammate on the ice, and truly fought for his line-mates. He even boasts 3 Hobey Baker Award nominations (while with Bowling Green State), and also eclipsed the 50 point plateu 4 different times in his career placing him at number 5.
#4 Brian Sutter, 1976 NHL Draft (2nd round, 20th overall):
Brian Sutter was one of the greatest players to ever don the Bluenote crest on his chest, and played his entire NHL career with the team. He was an offensive threat every time he touched the ice, and had a knack for finding open teammates for great scoring opportunities.
He was an excellent complement to Bernie Federko and was a great teammate to have fighting in your corner (often literally). His 636 career points (303 G, 333 A) for the Blues, great coaching abilities, and his jersey number hanging from the rafters are what brings him to our number 4 spot.
#3 Bernie Federko, 1976 NHL Draft (1st round, 7th overall):
Bernie Federko is still a huge part of the Blues organization covering the team from the bench night in and night out. However, he was best known as the number one scorer for the team throughout most of the 1980’s, and even recorded over 100 points in 4 different NHL seasons (3 years in a row from 1983-86, and also in 1980)! Bernie was a guy who played with heart and grit which showed in his scoring prowess, and saw him exceed the 80 point mark 9 times in his career (that’s no simple feat).
His number hangs alongside Brian Sutter’s at the Scottrade Center, and he will be forever known as an amazing hockey player and hometown hero to those St. Louis faithfuls. That is what puts Bernie Federko at number 3 on the all-time list.
#2 Rod Brind’Amour, 1988 NHL Draft (1st round, 9th overall):
Rod Brind’Amour is a household name in almost every hockey circle, but unfortunately it’s not for being a Blues superstar. He only suited up for the boys in Blue for one playoff run, and then 2 consecutive seasons (1989-91) before he was shipped out for stout defenseman Murray Baron and center Ron Sutter. This trade is one of the low-lights for the Blues organization, but at the time they needed bigger guys to compete with the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks and other NHL powerhouses.
Rod Brind’Amour went on to an amazing career where he played 1484 NHL games, and collected a total of 1184 points (452 G, 732 A). He is truly one of the game’s greatest players, and showed his versatility playing in all situations and being effective regardless of them. He even lead the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup Championship alongside rookie netminder Cam Ward, one of the truly great moments in Stanley Cup history. That’s what brings him in at number 2 on the all-time list.
#1 Doug Gilmour, 1982 NHL Draft (7th round, 134th overall):
Part of what makes Doug Gilmour the best ever NHL draft pick by the St. Louis Blues is his outstanding career, but the other is his low pick number that makes his career even more impressive. Gilmour wasn’t considered to be on most NHL team’s radar in the early 80’s, but once he got a taste of the show he quickly turned everyone into believers. His flashy plays and feverish hustle proved that he was the real deal, and his never-say-die attitude is what led him to become on of the all-time greats, not just in Blues history, but in the game of hockey itself. Though his time in the Gateway to the West was far too short (he played 5 seasons from 1983-88), he enjoyed a career filled with accomplishments and accolades abound. He played in 1474 NHL games and recorded 1464 points (450 G, 964 A) over that span. That’s almost a point a game for 24 straight seasons, which is much more than impressive. Players like Marty St. Louis model themselves after Dougy, and his name is on the tip of most hockey fans tongues at one point or another. That is why he is the number 1 best NHL draft pick the Blues have ever made.
The Noticeable Blues Draft Trend
Unfortunately a lot of these top 5 picks have one thing in common, they weren’t part of the St. Louis Blues organization for very long. That is something that has been changing in recent draft years, and is made evident by the continued development of Blues stars such as TJ Oshie, David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz (among others). Though the team may have made some mistakes at past drafts, since the trading of Erik Johnson and Lars Eller, the organization has been focused on grooming those they’ve invested in.
It is a great sign of things to come, given that we have so many prospects nearing NHL readiness. The Blues now just need to make sure they continue to pick well at each year’s NHL draft to re-up their minor-pro teams, and to ensure the future of the St. Louis Blues stays bright. Like what you’ve just read? Follow me on Twitter: @pep30
Mike has covered the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in depth for The Hockey Writers since 2013. He is also a contributing writer for KSDK News Channel 5, the St. Louis area NBC affiliate, and has been a credentialed media member of the Blues since 2014. Follow him on Twitter @pep30.