The St. Louis Blues have as many, if not more, what if’s than any team in sports. The 2006 NHL Entry Draft continues to be a big one in the team’s history.
The St. Louis Blues, as with many teams in the city’s history (other than the Cardinals), seem to have a history of what if’s. What if this deal was made or that trade not done or if this contract had been signed, etc.
What if the Blues never lost Scott Stevens? What if they were able to sign him back and have Stevens and MacInnis? What if Mike Keenan never chased away Wayne friggin’ Gretzky? That’s a big one, for sure.
As huge as that one is, the 2006 NHL Entry Draft provides one of the most interesting and perhaps sickening what if’s in the team’s history. What if the St. Louis Blues drafted Jonathan Toews?
As history tells us, the Blues did no such thing. There were rumors they might take a forward, but the team was confident they would have their captain of the future and a stalwart on the blue line when they selected Erik Johnson.
Maybe we should have known things would not work when the guy missed most of his rookie year being a bonehead and injuring his knee in a golf cart accident. You could probably assume this falls into the category of St. Louis having an issue with alcohol, but that’s an entirely different story.
Regardless of what cause the accident, Johnson missed significant time and never seemed to settle into the expectations laid before him. He never became the Blues best defenseman and is not currently the Colorado Avalanche’s best blue liner either. Johnson has not had a bad career, but he has not proved to be a number one pick either.
Viewing how the draft played out, the Blues selected Johnson with the first pick in the draft and Patrik Berglund with the 25th. Now, just imagine if the Blues had known how things would turn out.
Those are all fantastic players that could have altered the future of the Blues. As much as it pains any of us to say now, Toews would have been the franchise changer.
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There is no way to know how much he might have changed things. Would the Dave Checketts ownership have been able to afford him? Would he have stuck around long enough for Tom Stillman to take over?
Hard to say. I’d like to have taken that chance though.
Toews has not lit the world on fire. He has only scored more than 30 goals twice in his career. Toews has only passed 70 points once.
Still, he is a proven winner and seems to pull the best out of his teammates. Just imagine, for a brief moment if the Blues had the foresight to make the selection and keep him through the years, having a top line of Toews and Vladimir Tarasenko.
It is easy to hate him now because he not only won championships, but won them with the Chicago Blackhawks. It is easy to say the Blues don’t need him because we have only seen him in that awful red sweater.
I won’t lie though. I would take him in a heartbeat. I would take him over any combination you might give me in that draft.
We can call him bland because we are rivals, but the guy is just about everything you would want in a captain on the ice. He leads, he garners respect and he finds way to win.
Toews is talented enough to score when needed, but knows how to set up his teammates too. The Blues have a bunch of guys that try to past first even when shooting would be the better option.
Would the Blues have three championships instead of Chicago if the draft went differently? It is doubtful, but the possibility of having one would have been much higher.
When slapped with reality, Toews may have never made it to the current roster in St. Louis. Whether Checketts or Tom Stillman, it seems unlikely the Blues could have afforded to pay his $13.8 million salary with a $10.5 million cap hit.
Maybe they would have won by then and it would be ok though. Toews was only making $6.3 million through 2014-15.
It’s impossible to truly figure out how things would have played out, but knowing what we know now, what a ride it would have been. To paraphrase Don Meredith, if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we all might have had a happy summer for once. Sadly, we’ll never know.