Saturday, June 24, 2017

Blues stay course, make four picks on final day of draft

Team takes three defensemen among picks; Armstrong said no 
progress yet on Parayko contract, has had discussions with player's agent

ST. LOUIS -- Doug Armstrong stuck to his word that the Blues would likely be status quo on Saturday in the second and final day of the 2017 NHL Draft.

The Blues had four selections, one each in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds after holding no picks in the second and third rounds.

The Blues made their noise on Friday when they acquired centers Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist in separate deals with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Alexey Toropchenko

The Blues acquired Schenn for center Jori Lehtera, a first-round pick (No. 27) on Friday and a conditional first-round pick in 2018, then flipped Reaves and a second-round pick (No. 51) in Saturday's second round for Sundqvist and the Penguins' first round pick (No. 31) on Friday night.

The Blues used their first first-round selection (20th) on center Robert Thomas, then grabbed Russian left wing/center Klim Kostin, who many believe could have been a top-five pick had he not sustained a shoulder injury last year.

The Blues took their turn in the fourth round with the 113th pick and selected another Russian, right wing Alexey Toropchenko, who had 19 goals and 12 assists in 49 games last season with MVD Balashikha 2 of the Russia Junior League. 

Toropchenko, whose father Leonid was drafted by the Penguins with the 260th pick in 1993, will turn 18 on Sunday and is listed as 6-foot-3, 187 pounds; his stock rose from a mid-term ranking of 63 to a final ranking of 21 according to Central Scouting.

The Blues took one of three defensemen to finish the draft by selecting David Noel in the fifth round (No. 130), a 6-1, 175-pound blue liner who split last season with Chicoutimi and Val-D'Or of the QMJHL; he had three goals and 11 assists in 36 games with Chicoutimi and eight goals and 10 assists in 29 games with Val-D'Or.

"I'm an offensive-defenseman with a great shot, great first pass," Noel said on the team's website. "I think I have to work a bit on my skating, mobility and defensive side.

"Too much emotion. You can't describe this moment."

The second of three defensemen went in the sixth round (No. 175) by grabbing 6-2, 200-pound Trenton Bourque, whose uncle Dan Maloney played in 737 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs where he had 192 goals and 259 assists.

Bourque, 19, skated the past two seasons for Owen Sound of the OHL and had 11 assists in 67 games last season.

And with their final pick, the Blues chose 6-3, 216-pound defenseman Anton Andersson of Sweden. 

Andersson, 18, split the 2016-17 season with Lulea Jr. of the Sweden Junior League and Lulea U18 of the Sweden Junior U18 League; he had two goals and one assist in 13 games for Lulea Jr. and nine goals and 12 assists in 19 games for Sweden-Jr. U-18.

* NOTES -- Armstrong said that the immediate focus for the Blues now is to get to work on signing their restricted free agents, including defenseman Colton Parayko.

The 24-year-old Parayko, the Blues' 2012 third-round draft pick, just finished up a two-year, $1.85 million contract and he is a restricted free agent.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Colton Parayko is a restricted free agent on July 1 and 
the Blues are making it a priority to get him signed. 

Armstrong said after the Blues' exit meetings that Parayko would be a primary focus heading into the offseason and he'd like to get him signed, most likely before Parayko becomes susceptible to offer sheets on July 1.

Parayko is coming off a season in which he had four goals and 31 assists in 81 regular-season games after nine goals and 24 assists his rookie year of 2015-16.

When asked if there was progress, Armstrong said, "No, and not a concern that there isn't. I talked to his representative (Gerry Johannson) and we wanted to wait to see what the salary cap was. It wasn't going to reflect our desire to sign him, but a flat cap might have been going on a bridge deal. Now there's maybe some more options to look at longer term because the cap did increase a little bit (to $75 million). 

"Colton's a priority and whether it's a one-year, two-year deal or long-term deal, the length of the contract has no reflection of the value that we have of him as a long-term player. It's just talking about a cap system and making sure that he feels comfortable and we can function."

The Blues are currently $10.9 million under the cap.

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