Editor's note: On June 25, 2010, the Blues landed a couple of cornerstones of their Stanley Cup championship team by drafting Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko with the 14th and 16th picks of the NHL draft. Here is how the hockey experts looked at that draft.
Independent experts gave the Blues largely favorable grades after the NHL Draft. By dealing for a second first-round pick, the Blues let scouting czar Jarmo Kekalainen add two blue-chip forwards to the organizational chart on his way out the door.
The addition of young Bruins center Vladimir Sobotka will pay quicker dividends.
Here is a sampling of the post-selection analysis:
Gare Joyce, ESPN.com, on giving the Blues a B+: “Bump this up to an A if the Blues get delivery from Russia on Vladimir Tarasenko, their second first-rounder, probably one of the three best players in this draft class. Jaden Schwartz out of Tri-City in the USHL has great vision and hockey sense. Grading down a bit on the next two picks, Swedish overage RW Sebastien Wannstrom (decent skills and competiveness but not strong and not much room for improvement) and Minnesota high school C Max Gardiner (herky-jerky skating).”
Ryan Lambert, Yahoo! Sports: “I did not love the Jaden Schwartz pick (I found it a bit sentimental), but I quite liked the Tarasenko pick. I also think the Vladimir Sobotka deal was one they'll like just fine this year.”
Bob McKenzie, TSN: “The Blues could afford the ‘gamble’ on Tarasenko at 16th - if it's even a gamble - as they took Schwartz at 14. Call that pick Jarmo Kekalainen's going away present for the Blues. Jarmo will be GM of Jokerit in the Finnish League now. He has conviction and goes for it.”
Kyle Woodlief, Red Line Report, on Schwartz: “Hard-nosed play-making center was excellent in his rookie USHL campaign. He led the league in scoring with 83 points on a club whose next highest scorer had only 45. Dangerous nearly every shift. Tarasenko is like a shark in the way he appears out of nowhere and then strikes with lethal precision around the net. Perhaps the most pure natural goal scorer among this year's crop, and is not at all selfish with the puck either, frequently drawing double coverage to himself before dishing off a perfect pass. He's dynamic from the circles in. The Blues traded Dave Rundblad to Ottawa move up to his pick.”
Jeff Marek, CBC Sports: “Smallish but highly skilled offensively, Schwartz has terrific hands. He'll go to Colorado College to play with his brother. A few years away but the Blues have enough prospects they'll be working into their lineup in the next few years that the team can afford to wait for him. (Tarasenko is) a highly skilled forward who wants to play in the NHL right away. This guy has tremendous desire and works hard. Physically he's a rock. Strong goal scorer who loves to take the puck to the net. Some scouts had him rated as high as fourth overall.”
Matthew Sekeres, Toronto Globe and Mail: “Tarasenko is an enormous talent. Very strong, especially on the puck. When most of his Russian teammates were lollygagging through a WJC quarter against Switzerland -- which they ultimately lost -- he was busting his tail. He then got confrontational in the mix zone, showing hyper-competitiveness.”
What do you think, Blues fans?