Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blues not expected to work back into first round of draft

Team has six picks Sunday; free agent to-be
Lecavalier reportedly talked to St. Louis among many suitors

ST. LOUIS -- After trading away their No. 1 pick to acquire defenseman Jay Bouwmeester last season, the Blues will be left without a first round pick for the second time in 11 seasons when the NHL Draft unfolds Sunday.

That is unless the Blues are somehow able to trade back into the first round, which is something that was asked of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong earlier this week.

The 2013 NHL Draft commences Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. (St. Louis time) and concludes around 9:30 p.m. with seven rounds in all at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. NBC Sports Network will have coverage from 2-7 p.m. NHL Network picks it up from 7-9:30 p.m.
(Getty Images)
Vincent Lecavalier reportedly spoke with the Blues on
Saturday, one of many teams interested in the center's
The Blues will have picks in the second (47th overall) and third rounds (83rd), two fourth round picks (94th and 113th), sixth (173rd) and seventh rounds (203rd).

But unless something extraordinary happens, don't bet on the Blues moving up, according the Armstrong. It's not because they wouldn't like to, but since the Blues are positioning themselves to win now, dealing away current pieces just isn't conducive in that scenario.

"It will be difficult right now to move up into the first round," Armstrong said. "I think we're a team that's positioning itself to try and compete at the upper echelon right now.

"One of the things I've talked about internally and to a couple of you guys is that we could walk out of here with 10 first round picks if we want, but that's not where we're at. I'm not saying it's impossible for us to trade a player for a first round pick, but I'm not sure we have an access of any one position that we could give a player away to get a pick now. All that could change if someone offers us a pick that we just can't pass up. But right now where we're currently sitting at, I wouldn't forecast us moving into the first round."

The bigger news surrounding the Blues could come in the form of trade talk surrounding some big names. Goalie Jaroslav Halak has already been thrown out there, and according to a link from (, the Philadelphia Flyers appear to have some form of interest in Halak, who has one year remaining on his four-year contract. It's not to say the Blues will deal Halak, who battled through a pair of groin injuries last season, but his name has been thrown out there.

"I think this is one of the times where managers get together and there's a lot of conversation, a lot of feeling out," Armstrong said prior to departing for the draft. "My experience is that things should pick up maybe Friday or Saturday. ... I think there might be a little calm before the storm, but I think there will be a lot of discussions on Friday-Saturday leading into Sunday.

"Last year, we thought we were going to be very active at the draft. We were looking to do some things and we really did nothing at the draft. It's hard to tell how this thing is going to play itself out. You see compliance buyouts ... obviously (Danny) Briere's name is there now, (Ilya) Bryzgalov's name is out there. The next week is also going to decide if the free agent pool is going to get bigger than anticipated."

Another name is that of Vincent Lecavalier, who will be a compliance buyout with the Tampa Bay Lightning and who is drawing a ton of interest from teams, including the Blues according to a TSN report. Lecavalier, who has 383 goals and 874 points in 14 seasons with the Lightning. Lecavalier is 6-foot-4 and weighs 214 pounds and would compliment the Blues' center corps quite nicely but is a longshot at best to land here with so many suitors and the potential of Lecavalier wanting a longer-term contract for top dollar, which would be difficult for the Blues to match. Lecavalier had seven years and $45 million remaining on an 11-year, $85 million contract before the Lightning decided to buy out their 33-year-old captain. 

Lecavalier does have ties with the Blues though. Rob Dimaio, the Blues' director of pro scouting and Tim Taylor, the Blues' director of player personnel, both were teammates of Lecavalier in Tampa.

Briere, whose contract will be bought out by the Flyers, would be a more cost-effective pickup should the Blues have interest but is thought to want to remain on the east coast to be near his family.

(Getty Images)
Danny Briere is a possibility for the Blues after his contract
will be bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Blues are also still working on getting contracts done for some of their own players, including guys who can become restricted free agents on July 5. Those players include Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart, Kris Russell and Jake Allen among others, as well as potential unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold, who could walk on July 5 if the two sides don't work anything out prior to that.

"I think based on where we're at now, I see us getting through the draft with no further conversations," Armstrong said referring to Leopold. "As you get closer to July 5th, it's sort of like trades heading into the draft. The phones pick up regardless one way or the other. It's really not July 5th now, it's more like July 3rd because you have the opportunity to talk to unrestricted free agents early.

"We've had conversations. We respect (Leopold) as a player and as a person and what he brought to our team. If there's a way there that we can bring him back and to satisfy what his needs are, we'll look at doing that, but there's no talks right now that are on the front-burner."
* Allen gains honor -- On Saturday, the NHL announced the 2012-13 NHL All-Rookie Team, and it includes Blues goaltender Jake Allen, forwards Brendan Gallagher (Montreal), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida), Brandon Saad (Chicago) and defensemen Jonas Brodin (Minnesota) and Justin Schultz (Edmonton).

The 22-year-old Allen led rookie goaltenders with nine wins, a 2.46 goals-against average and .905 save percentage while ranking second in appearances (15) and minutes (803:53).

The 6-2, 195-pound Fredericton, New Brunswick native won eight of his first nine decisions, including five straight from March 7-16 and became the third goaltender in league history to win his first NHL start in Detroit (Damian Rhodes, 1991 and Rastislav Stana, 2004 were the others).

Allen, a second-round pick in 2008, made a career-high and Blues season-high 39 saves March 12 vs. San Jose and posted his first career shutout March 14 against Phoenix (28 saves).

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