The St. Louis Blues don’t know where they will pick in the 2020 draft. They also don’t have man glaring needs, which gives them the freedom to look anywhere, be it position or playing style.
The St. Louis Blues have the comfort of knowing a little more certainty about their draft status than some. They know, in all likelihood, they are going to draft toward the bottom.
That never sounds all that glamorous and it takes away some discussion among fans about what future star might get picked. Still, there are always some gems to be found late in the first round and even in the second.
So, while you don’t get the publicity of a high pick, you have the satisfaction of being involved in a Stanley Cup chase. Oddly enough, drafting lower, coupled with having success already, gives you a bit more freedom.
Other teams go into the yearly draft having specific needs. You might need a scoring winger or a center with speed or someone to bolster your blue line.
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The higher you draft, the more likely it is you have that need right now. Then it becomes a matter of how quickly your selection can fill that need.
The Blues don’t have that worry. They have four lines of depth on their current NHL roster and several players knocking on the door right now.
There are no gigantic holes in their prospect system either. If anything, the Blues might be a little thin on defense, but even there you have a waiting list of guys trying to crack the NHL or, at least, move up the pecking order.
So, Doug Armstrong and company can be a little more loose with their picks. That does not mean they do not try to plan ahead where there could be gaps in the future, but not having an immediate need allows you to grab whichever player is most talented.
You don’t have to pass on the center because you need a defenseman or vice versa. St. Louis can gather all the information they need on players that will be available at that time and simply pick who is the best.
According to Chris Peters of ESPN, Poirier has some of the best hands in this year’s draft. The downside of Poirier is he apparently needs significant work on his defensive game, but as Peters said “he’s just so creative with the puck on his stick that it might be worth taking a swing on him late in the first for the defending Stanley Cup champs.”
Any time someone says a defenseman needs “significant” work on his defensive game, I would normally shy away. Defense is one of those things that you can work on and improve, but there is a certain instinct about it that can’t just be taught.
On the positive side, the Blues would not need Poirier to be on the roster anytime soon. That would give him plenty of time to acclimate to the pro game, whenever that came about, and learn from professionals about the intricacies of defending NHL-level talent.
The game is moving to a more all-around style where defenseman need to be able to skate and pass and shoot almost as well as forwards. However, the point of the position is still to stop the opposition first.
The Blues have had offensive defensemen lately and had mixed results. Kevin Shattenkirk, Vince Dunn and Justin Faulk are all offense first and all are quality players, regardless of what some say about Faulk.
Still, there have been times where the defensive lapses with all those guys are glaring. Would the Blues want another player in the same vein in the system?
Time will tell. For now, Poirier is an interesting choice.
It might be worth a try to take a risk on a player that just scored 20 goals in 64 games in 2019-20.