Saturday, July 24, 2021

Blues trade up to select Swedish winger, make three picks on final day of draft

Robertsson, projected to be late first-, second-round pick, gets 
selected in third round after St. Louis trades with San Jose to move up

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues made a trade.

(Skelleftea AIK photo)
Blues third round pick Simon Robertsson was projected to be a late first
or second round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

No, it wasn't Vladimir Tarasenko. They didn't bring in any other impact names on Saturday, a day after trading for New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich, but the Blues did move up on the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Having no picks in the second round, the Blues had to wait for the third round, and the couldn't wait for pick No. 81, so they packaged that, along with their sixth-round pick (No. 177) and sent them to the San Jose Sharks for the Sharks' third-round pick, No. 71, and used it to select right wing Simon Robertsson of Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League.

Listed as a 6-foot-0, 190-pound right wing, the 18-year-old of Pitea, Sweden a goal and an assist in 22 games with Skelleftea AIK last season and 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) with Skelleftea's Juniors in 15 games before the season was cancelled because of COVID-19. Robertsson also had three points (two goals, one assist) in seven games on loan with Pitea HC and had three goals and an assist for Sweden at the World Junior Championship this past year.

"I'm very honored. I'm pretty shocked maybe. I'm just very happy," Robertsson said from Plymouth, Mich. where he's playing in a showcase tournament with the Under-20 Swedish team. 

"... It took a couple games (in the SHL) to get used to how quick everything happens and how strong they were. I think maybe like 15 games in, it felt better for me. I could do something with the puck instead of just throw it away. It took 15 games and I feel more comfortable." 

Robertsson was the 11th ranked skater among European skaters among draft prospect rankings in the NHL Central Scouting who was projected at one point by various draft prognosticators to be a potential first-round pick.

"It's a player that we were comfortable paying the price to, to acquire," Blues director of amateur scouting Tony Feltrin said. "We believe in his abilities. A good, hard-driving winger. We just did not feel we wanted to risk letting him slip through. We're certainly happy where he fell. It was a good selection for us. I'm not so concerned about it being a second round pick or a third round pick. It's a good acquisition for the St. Louis Blues."

"I don't think I was going to go in the first round," Robertsson said. "I heard I was going to go in the second. I'm not so shocked. I had lots of meetings and things like that. I'm really happy (for) the Blues to select me. 

"I had a good meeting with them and I had good meetings with the Swedish scout there. Not the team that I talked to the most but it's one of the teams I had meetings with."

Robertsson has been described as an all-around player that has a heavy shot and plays a power forward style of game.

"I'm a two-way forward," Robertsson said. "I like to shoot the puck and play hard, deliver hits and I hate to lose, so I bring everything to the game to win. ... I've worked with my shot. I think I've always had a hard shot. That's something I've worked with and still do. I think it's one of my greatest tools."

There are bloodlines for Robertsson, whose father Bert was a defenseman and 10th-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1993 draft and played 123 games for the Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers who is now the head coach of Linköpings HC of the SHL and gave his son some sound advice about the NHL.

"Like it's hard, like you have to work for everything and you don't get anything that easily," Simon Robertsson said. "I have to work for it."

Robertsson said he plans to play in Sweden at Skelleftea AIK since he's under contract for two more years.

The Blues didn't have a fourth round pick this year; it was traded to Montreal when they acquired defenseman Marco Scandella, but in the fifth round, they took Calgary Hitmen defenseman Tyson Galloway.

The 6-3, 220-pound Galloway, 18, spend the past season playing in the Western Hockey League for the Hitmen and had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 17 games that was derailed when he had to quarantine for two weeks after a teammate tested positive for COVID-19.

"He came in and played a contributing role in Calgary," Feltrin said. "Ended up getting nicked up and missing some games in what was approximately a 24-game season. But a big-bodied kid, pretty good mobility, moves the puck effectively. Actually scored some goals this season. Plays a pretty good solid, two-way game. Our Western Hockey League scouts like him. There's some good upside there."

And with expectations of getting drafted, there were some nervy moments from the time Galloway woke up and began to watch the second day of the draft from his home in Kamloops, British Columbia. 

"I had talked to St. Louis about three weeks after the season had ended," said Galloway, who compared his game to that of former Blue Joel Edmundson, who played a season in the WHL himself in Kamloops in 2012-13. "I had a good conversation with (Blues scouts). I was pretty confident going into the draft honestly building up to it. I was a fourth, fifth round, sixth round where I was projected and evidently I went in the fifth round and everything kind of worked out perfectly.

"... I was up pretty early. I watched all the way from the start of the second round until when I got picked. I was just kind of waiting there patiently getting a little stressed there, I'm not going to lie. Fortunately St. Louis stepped up there in the fifth round. One of the best days of my life and I'm super fortunate for the St. Louis Blues organization for taking the chance on me."

The Blues had a six-round pick but traded it to the Sharks to grab Robertsson, but with their final pick of this draft in the seventh round, they chose Russian right wing Ivan Vorobyov, 19.
Vorobyov had 50 points (21 goals 29 assists) in 52 games for Mamonty Yugry of the Minor Hockey League of Russia and then played in three games for Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk of the Supreme Hockey League.

"Russian and European scouting staff did a lot of diligence on him," Feltrin said. "He's got good scoring ability, plays with hunger, good quickness. They expect him to play in the (SHL) in Russia next season, but his hunger, speed and scoring abilities are the enticements."
The Blues' draft consisted of just four picks altogether after they chose center/wing Zachary Bolduc with the 17th overall pick on Friday.

"In Zachary Bolduc, we have a real strong skater, good-skilled player," Feltrin said. "Capable of playing left wing or center. He can score goals, he's competitive, quick on pucks, good shot, scoring ability. There's lots to like about the player, real good upside."
(Calgary Hitmen photo)
Blues fifth round pick Tyson Galloway was the lone defenseman the team
selected of their four picks in the 2021 NHL Draft.

All in all, despite the challenges of seeing players in limited live action because of shutdowns due to COVID, the Blues are happy with the return on what they got in their picks.

"Numerous challenges. Certainly the combination of those players that you have the opportunity to see both video and live views," Feltrin said. "It's a little bit of a greater sense of security or comfort level with the typical scouting years. Staff put in a tremendous amount of time, effort. Right from the get-go, we knew it was going to be a unique season and guys bought in, spent the video time and depends on the regions of where players were playing and not playing. Guys put in the effort. We're comfortable in where we were in every opportunity that there was presented to attend live games, we were certainly there. All in all, we made best of the circumstances, and again, staff did a tremendous job from start to finish this season.

"... We feel we've got some players that are going to be attributes for the St. Louis Blues down the road. We like our selections. Kids all have some good potential. It was four players, it's four additional players on our depth chart and we're pleased to have them."

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