Thursday, July 7, 2022

For Blues, all hands on deck when it comes to draft

Team slated to pick at No. 23 in first round of draft in Montreal

ST. LOUIS -- The 2022 NHL Draft will be a place for many franchise's to grab tomorrow's stars, perhaps as early as this season.

Not for the Blues.

Not for a team in a win-now mode.

The Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes, Seattle Kraken and Philadelphia Flyers, all teams that did not make the playoffs last season, will -- barring any trades -- pick Nos. 1-5. Those are franchises that are looking for game-changers. Heck, even picks 6-10 or even 11-15 will be looking for someone that can make an impact on their teams next season or soon enough after.

But as you get into the later teens and into the 20s, where the Blues will be picking in an all-too-familiar position due to their continued success and continued search to win right away, picking at No. 23 could see them go in a number of directions.

* Do they use their pick to try and move up in the draft, which is something that general manager Doug Armstrong hinted at? That scenario is unlikely. 

* Do they trade down and accrue multiple picks moving back if they think they can get one of a number of players they feel they could get later in the round instead of at 23? That's a very distinct possibility, and a highly likely one I believe.

* Or even something that would get Blues fans all eyes and ears glued to a television set or to reports, do they use the pick to try and acquire an immediate impact player, for say, a left-handed defenseman that they could plug into their top four? Don't rule it out.

That's why seeing the Blues pick at No. 23 is more than unlikely, and if for some reason they do remain there, it's not for somebody that will make an impact in 2022-23, or even 2023-24 or 2024-25. And if they do pick there, it's not looking for a need. It's taking the best player available.

"The needs of today's team shouldn't reflect what we do in the draft," Armstrong said a couple days ago. "The player that we take at 23 if we select there, you're probably looking three years away, maybe two or three if he fast-tracks to playing in the NHL. That's just playing, that's not contributing, that's not getting your 8-11 minutes a night and finding your way. What we need today could change tomorrow with one trade of NHL players. We need to take the best player available. Our guys have done a great job of tinkering with the list, I would say, that's been put to print but you always tinker a little bit. There's some guys that we're excited about that we think will be there at 23. If they're not there, we've studied teams that have multiple picks in the late 20s and early 30s to potentially move back. We've contacted those teams and now it's just a wait-and-see attitude when you start crossing names off on Thursday night if you make any moves. 

"As of today, I haven't visualized any way that we can move up and I haven't been presented with an idea from another team that they see we can move up. I don't see us making a move higher in the draft, but that all changes with one phone call and one idea of someone smarter than me that has (an idea) that I can't come up with right now. But when when we break our list into tiers, there's guys we're really excited to get at 23 and then there's going to be guys that we think we might be able to maximize picks by adding other ones if we move down. That just happens when you hear names crossed off."

Imagine somehow if the Blues are still holding their pick and somebody they value a lot higher than 23 is there for them to select? This is the wild card of it all. But think about how much more limited scouting access is out there since COVID-19 has affected that. It's something the Blues will take into consideration.

"I think this year's draft, from what I hear, what I read, it's probably five, six, let's say we go to seven guys that everyone has going in the top 10 and after that, you see a lot of different guys," Armstrong said. "We're hoping to get a guy that might have anywhere from 11-14 on our list. It's a little abnormal by maybe two or three picks on our list. I just think with COVID, the scouting, everything that's gone on with no world junior tournament this year, the Russians not being at the U-18. The world changes so much right now that I think this draft is an indicator that we're going to have guys on our list maybe in the 20s or 30s that go in the top 15. I'm not saying we're right and other teams are wrong. I just think it's going to be one of those drafts."

The draft will take place over two days today and Friday at the Bell Centre in Montreal at 6 p.m. today (ESPN, ESPN+) and Friday beginning at 10 a.m. (NHL Network, ESPN+).

The Blues also have picks, barring trade(s), in the third round (No. 88), fourth round (No. 120), fifth round (No. 152) and sixth round (No. 184). The Blues' second-round pick went to the New York Rangers last year in the trade that brought Pavel Buchnevich to St. Louis, and their seventh-round pick went to the Montreal Canadiens along with goalie Jake Allen for a pair of picks in 2020.  

* NOTES -- The NHL released the 2022-23 regular-season schedule on Wednesday, and the Blues will be opening on Oct. 15 at Enterprise Center against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blues will face their Central Division rivals a total of 26 times, including four each against Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, Nashville and Winnipeg, and three with each with Arizona and Dallas.  The Blues will play the Pacific Division 24 times and each of the Eastern Conference teams twice for a total of 32 games.

They will face the Stanley Cup-champion Avalanche for the first time Nov. 14 in Denver and their other 2022 playoff matchup, against the Minnesota Wild, on New Year's Eve at home at a time to be determined.

A season-long seven-game homestand will take place Jan. 10-24, a season-long five-game road trip from will take place Dec. 15-23; there are 14 sets of back-to-back games, a season season break from Jan. 31-Feb. 10 and the regular season will conclude with a home-and-away set with the Stars, at home April 12 and in Dallas April 13.

Here's a look at the preseason and regular season schedule:

24 -- vs. Arizona at Wichita, Kan., 7 p.m.
26 -- at Dallas, 7 p.m.
29 -- vs. COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
1 -- vs. DALLAS at Independence, Mo., 7 p.m.
4 -- vs. MINNESOTA, 7 p.m.
6 -- at Columbus, 6 p.m.
8 -- vs. CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
?? -- at Chicago, TBA (a date and time to be determined for a preseason game against the Blackhawks)

16 -- vs. COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
19 -- at Seattle, 9 p.m.
22 -- at Edmonton, 3 p.m.
24 -- at Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
26 -- vs. EDMONTON, 7 P.M.
27 -- at Nashville, 7 p.m.
29 -- vs. MONTREAL, 6 p.m.
21 -- vs. LOS ANGELES, 7 p.m.  
3 -- vs. N.Y. ISLANDERS, 7 p.m.
7 -- at Boston, 6 p.m.
8 -- at Philadelphia, 6 p.m.
10 -- vs. SAN JOSE, 7 p.m.
12 -- at Vegas, 9 p.m.
14 -- at Colorado, 8 p.m.
16 -- at Chicago, 6:30 p.m.
17 -- vs. WASHINGTON, 7 p.m.
19 -- vs. ANAHEIM, 7 p.m.
21 -- vs. ANAHEIM, 7 p.m.
23 -- at Buffalo, 6 p.m.
25 -- at Tampa Bay, 6:30 p.m.
26 -- at Florida, 5 p.m.
28 -- vs. DALLAS, 7 p.m.
1 -- vs. CAROLINA, 7 p.m.
3 -- at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.
5 -- at N.Y. Rangers, 6 p.m.
6 -- at N.Y. Islanders, 6:30 p.m.
8 -- vs. WINNIPEG, 7 p.m.
11 -- vs. COLORADO, 1 p.m.
12 -- vs. NASHVILLE, 7 p.m.
15 -- at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
16 -- at Calgary, 8 p.m.
19 -- at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m.
20 -- at Seattle, 9 p.m.
23 -- at Vegas, 9 p.m.
27 -- vs. TORONTO, 7 p.m.
29 -- vs. CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
31 -- vs. MINNESOTA, TBA
3 -- at Toronto, 6 p.m.
5 -- at New Jersey, 6 p.m.
7 -- at Montreal, 6 p.m.
8 -- at Minnesota, 6 p.m.
10 -- vs. CALGARY, 7 p.m.
12 -- vs. CALGARY, 7 p.m.
14 -- vs. TAMPA BAY, 7 p.m.
16 -- vs. OTTAWA, 7 p.m.
19 -- Vs. NASHVILLE, 7 p.m.
21 -- vs. CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
24 -- vs. BUFFALO, 7 p.m.
26 -- at Arizona, 8 p.m.
28 -- at Colorado, 2 p.m.
30 -- at Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
11 -- vs. ARIZONA, 7 p.m.
14 -- vs. FLORIDA, 7 p.m.
16 -- vs. NEW JERSEY, 7 p.m.
18 -- vs. COLORADO, 1 p.m.
19 -- at Ottawa, 1 p.m.
21 -- at Carolina, 6 p.m.
23 -- vs. VANCOUVER, 7 p.m.
25 -- vs. PITTSBURGH, 7 p.m.
28 -- vs. SEATTLE, 7 p.m.
2 -- at San Jose, 9:30 p.m.
4 -- at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.
7 -- at Arizona, 8 p.m.
9 -- vs. SAN JOSE, 7 p.m.
11 -- at Columbus, 6 p.m.
12 -- vs. VEGAS, 6 p.m.
15 -- vs. MINNESOTA, 8:30 p.m.
17 -- at Washington, 6 p.m.
19 -- vs. WINNIPEG, 6 p.m.
21 -- vs. DETROIT, 7 p.m.
23 -- at Detroit, 6:30 p.m.
25 -- at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m.
26 -- at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.
28 -- vs. VANCOUVER, 7 p.m.
30 -- at Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
1 -- at Nashville, noon
2 -- vs. BOSTON, 2:30 p.m.
4 -- vs. PHILADELPHIA, 7 p.m.
6 -- vs. N.Y. RANGERS, 7 p.m.
8 -- at Minnesota, 2 p.m.
12 -- vs. DALLAS, 6:30 p.m.
13 -- at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

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