...are the top ten. I would concur, and it's unlikely that any of those guys (with the possible exception of Radulov) will fall as far as the #17 pick.
So unlikely, in fact, that I'd propose we not focus on these guys at all, and instead concentrate our efforts on trying to be Nostradamuses (Nostradamii?) and concentrate on ranking the next ten or fifteen players, as they are the ones who will be most likely to be available when the Blues pick.
It's nice to wish that somehow, some way, Andrew Ladd or Lauri Tukonen are going to fall to the Blues. In the real world, however, either event has two chances of happening: slim and none.
So let's try to rate the "next fifteen," and determine from there where we as a group would like for the Blues to go, and where we as a group think it's most likely they will go.
I would agree with this group as the start of the "next fifteen:"
If, for example, you think the Blues need to pick a defenseman, you can have your choice of Green (an offensive defenseman who's known for the big hit); Fransson, Meszaros and Smid (good two-way defensmen with hockey sense); or Valabik (a huge, physical defenseman who's a raw skater).
If I had to rank them 1 through 5, it'd be Green, Smid, Meszaros, Fransson, Valabik. Green, Smid, Meszaros and Fransson all skate well enough, and have good enough offensive instincts, to be able to play the transition game that the Blues like from their defensemen. Valabik, in my opinion, is ranked as high as he is for 79 reasons -- one for every inch of height.
If you wanted a forward, you have several style options as well. Bolland, for example, is a right-shooting center (which the Blues have very few of in the organ-I-zation) who goes hard to the net and plays bigger than his size.
Wolski is a big guy (6' 03, 200) with skill who's supposed to be a good character guy, something that the Blues and Kekalainen like in a player. Ditto for Korpikosi, although at 6' 01, 183, he's not quite as big as Wolski.
Chipchura is said to be almost the quintessential third-liner -- wins faceoffs, checks well, kills penalties, good hockey sense, but not expected to be a big scorer at the NHL level. Stafford is another kid with good size (6' 02, 202) and character, and the Blues' tendency in the past was to pick college guys because they could develop for three or four years before they'd have to be paid to play.
Lisin may be the most talented of the bunch. They say he can skate like the wind, and that's something the Blues definitely look for in a player, but he needs a map to find his own end of the ice on defense, and that's something they don't look for...
If I had to guess, I'd think the Blues will be looking for skill and character, and will go with one of Wolski, Korpikoski, or Stafford. I'd give the edge to Korpikoski if all three are still available, and I do it for two reasons: Because I like European players, and because he's a Finn and Kekalainen will be making the pick. Feel free to challenge that assertion.
In goal, of course, you've got the well-discussed Schwarz (whom I personally think will go top ten) and Montoya. I fully expect both to be gone by the time the Blues pick at #17. That leaves Dubnyk and Schneider, both of whom are big goalies, but whom the reports say have somewhat differing styles.
Dubnyk is suppopsed to be very quick and has good positioning, whereas Schneider is supposed to be less polished and more of a flopper. Dubnyk played against top competition in the WHL this year, whereas Schneider played against New England high schoolers... until the U-18 tournament, where he was outstanding.
"The Hockey News" has Dubnyk slotted at #17, which means they think the Blues will take him. I wouldn't mind that so much, nor would I mind if they went with Schneider instead. I feel either one would be a solid addition to the goaltending prospect stable, and would lead to a pretty interesting camp in 2008 when one of those guys is fighting it out with Barulin and Nissinen for a starting position in St. Louis.
On balance, however, I think that the presence of Barulin and Nissinen in the organ-I-zation makes it less likely that the Blues will spend their first-round pick on a goalie, even one as talented as either Schneider or Dubnyk. My take is that the Blues will opt for the forward or defenseman, and take their goalie in the second round, where David Shantz should still be around, along with Michal Valent of Slovakia and Toronto St. Michaels' goalie Justin Peters.
It really comes down to this:
First-round talent at forward or defenseman + Shantz/Valent/Peters
is probably greater than
Dubnyk/Schneider + second-round talent at forward or defenseman
That said, however, if the Blues came out of the first two rounds with two from this group...
Schneider or Dubnyk first; Ryan Garlock/Juraj Gracik/Zdenek Bahensky second
...I'd be as happy as an IceHog in mud.
That's my take, anyway.
If you want to pin me down to a first-round pick at this point, I'm going to go out on a limb and say flip a coin between Korpikoski and Green. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if I was dead freakin' wrong.
Last edited by Prussian_Blue: 06-10-2004 at 09:42 PM.
The only thing I'll add to all that is that there's no way I'd touch Valabik with the 1st round pick. Strictly talking defensemen here... I'd take Hedman, Shultz, and probably Wharton and Tesliuk before him.