Saturday, June 23, 2018

Blues leave 2018 NHL Draft with no trades, five more picks

Reports that St. Louis not on Tavares' list of teams 
center will speak with; other deals never came to fruition

It turned out to be a quiet weekend as far as trades were concerned for the Blues, who had five picks on Saturday at the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong used the weekend to speak with fellow GM's, perhaps setting the parameters of something in the near future or down the line, or perhaps the Blues will focus on free agency a little more if the trade front doesn't work out the way they had hoped.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues GM Doug Armstrong came away from the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas
without making any moves.

There are multiple reports that the Blues are not among the teams that pending free agent center John Tavares will speak with during the free agency period beginning Sunday that allows other teams to speak to pending UFA's, and so it appears the Blues will have to look elsewhere for immediate help.

With trade possibilities including Buffalo center Ryan O'Reilly, who TSN's Bob McKenzie reported was being courted by the Blues and Montreal among others, Carolina's Jeff Skinner is also in play and would be a fit for the Blues' scoring needs.

So with Blues fans, obviously the question is how quickly will something happen, but the better question is when will something happen?

But as Armstrong pointed out when reached on Thursday, "I think that question can be answered with more clarity on Aug. 1 than July 1 because I just don't know what the market's going to bear at the draft and from the talking period Sunday through the middle of July."

Other options via free agency could include James Neal and former Blue David Perron of Vegas, former Blues center Paul Stastny, Toronto forwards James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak, Oakville native Pat Maroon and perhaps New Jersey Devils teammate Michael Grabner, among others. Boston's Riley Nash is an intriguing player also after coming off a 41-point season making only $900,000.

As for their draft choices, the Blues mixed it up with three forwards, two defenseman and a goalie in the fourth round among their six picks, including right wing Dominik Bokk, who they picked with the 25th pick in the first round after trading up four spots with the Toronto Maple Leafs that included giving up their third-round pick Saturday.

"This one was a tough one," Blues director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong said. "There was a lot of strategy on our part trying to get the most value out of the draft. This one was a little more complex. ... We're happy with our selections and we wrapped it up today."

The Blues went with 5-foot-9, 172-pound defenseman Scott Perunovich of NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth with their second-round pick and 45th overall.

Perunovich, who turns 20 on August 18, had 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 42 regular-season games his freshman season, is a native of Hibbing, Minn. and part of his third draft after not being picked the past two years; he was called a "late-bloomer" and a puck-moving defenseman on the NHL Network by analysts. 

Perunovich was the NCAA rookie of the year award winner who really got noticed at the World Junior Championship for Team USA, where he had a goal and two assists in seven games.

An interesting tidbit is that Perunovich's uncle, Doug Terrell, was drafted with the 66th pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1987 NHL Draft.

Perunovich's bio:

Without a third-round pick, the Blues had to wait until the fourth round, where they selected goalie Joel Hofer, who was a backup last season with Western Hockey League champion Swift Current.

Hofer, 17, played in 19 games with the Broncos and was 8-3-1-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

At 6-3, 160, the Winnipeg native Hofer was rated as the No. 7 North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting.

Hofer's bio:

In the fifth round, the Blues went with 5-8, 170-pound Western Michigan left wing Hugh McGing, a Chicago native who finished his sophomore season playing for former Blues coach Andy Murray's Broncos.

McGing, 19, played in 36 games this past season and was named the Rob Hodge co-MVP, finishing with 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists).

McGing has 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 60 games playing for Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League.

McGing's bio:

With their sixth-round pick, the Blues dipped into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and selected 6-1, 175-pound right wing Mattias Laferriere of Montreal. 

Laferriere, who turns 18 on Wednesday, had 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in 67 games for Cape Breton, his second season there.

Laferriere's bio:

And with their final pick if the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blues grabbed Tyler Tucker, a 6-1, 203-pound defenseman out of Longlac, Ontario, in the seventh round with pick No. 200.

Tucker, who turned 18 on March 1, skated with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League this past season and recorded 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 59 games, his second season with the Colts.

Tucker's bio:

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