You can usually tell the depth of a draft based on how many varying answers you get to who might be selected number one overall. When you have a general consensus on the top pick and nothing else, the draft is a crapshoot. That’s what the St. Louis Blues had to deal with in 2021.
Nobody really had a clue who might go where after the first two or three picks. So, just about anyone could be a hit and anyone could be a miss.
With all this in mind, it seems the Blues did pretty well considering the cloudy nature of it all.
Just about every mock draft had the Blues taking someone different in the first round. In FanSided’s Mock Draft, I selected Isak Rosen. That was in part due to players already being taken and also because Rosen has some good talent.
Other mock drafts across the FanSided family of networks had the Blues selecting other forwards and some defensemen with the 17th pick. The Blues actually took Zachary Bolduc.
It’s an intriguing pick with plenty of upside. Right now, the biggest question mark is whether Bolduc can be a center at the NHL level or will need to transfer to a winger role.
Bolduc isn’t huge, but at 6’1, he has the frame to add some size without forgoing any speed. The scouts all rave about his shooting ability and that’s something the Blues can definitely use. They have far too many pass-first minds.
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The main worry about Bolduc, as with most 2021 prospects, is how well projection translates. Some mock drafts had Bolduc gone by the time the Blues picked and other ones had him slipping out of the first round. That’s a wide range of possibilities.
On the flip side, the Blues might have may have hit a home run with their third-round pick.
Simon Robertsson was seen as a mid-to-late round first-round selection in most drafts. Somehow, to the Blues favor, he fell all the way to the third round.
Robertsson already has an NHL-type frame. At just 18, he’s 6′ and 190 lbs according to Elite Prospects.
He’s still got time to grow an inch or two, if that’s in his genes, and nobody is going to push him around at that weight. He can still get stronger too.
One thing all the Blues picks had in their favor was shooting. They all had hard, quick shots.
That’s definitely something the Blues need more of.
"His best asset is his release. He shoots as hard as a horse kicks. Works hard. – Anders Eriksén (HC) 2020"
One of the reasons Robertsson may have slipped was having a poor season in the Swedish league. That’s an unfair assumption on the part of the other teams though because it’s an 18 year old playing in the top men’s league in the country. Those teams are not looking to develop talent, but win games and playing an 18-year old is not always in their best interest.
In his own age group, Robertsson has done very well. He had seven goals in 15 international appearances. In 2019-20, he had 13 goals and 30 points in 41 games with Skelleftea’s junior team.
As long as he keeps progressing, there’s no reason this kid cannot make the NHL. It won’t be too soon, but he’ll get his shot.
Tyson Galloway was an interesting pick. The Blues do need to restock their defensive shelves, but there were other players available.
The Blues are somewhat thin on the right handed side of the blue line and there were righties available. Nevertheless, he fits the mold of a current defenseman.
Galloway has good skating ability and already has size, coming in at 6’4 as of draft day. He might get a little bigger with his weight at 214 lbs, but as long as the strength is there, he doesn’t need to be bulky.
Galloway upped his stock by having his best offensive season of his career with the Calgary Hitmen. He posted four goals and nine points in 17 games. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but when you’re a defensive defender, it looks good.
"The skating translates to rush defence, where Galloway usually drives the puck-carrier to the perimeter before pivoting and erasing them along the boards. Lots of off-puck activation with some in-motion passes and give-and-go-type plays. –EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide"
The Blues have more left handed defensemen in his path, so he has time to continue developing.
Last, but not least, the Blues took Russian winger Ivan Vorobyov with their seventh round pick. I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but, for now, most of what you can say about Vorobyov is he was the best of what was left.
It’s not impossible for a seventh rounder to make the NHL, but it’s not incredibly common either. Additionally, while skill always translates, it’s typically harder for North American scouts to really judge Russian players based on anything outside of what they do each shift. You cannot discount the cultural shift when those players come to North America.
For his part, Vorobyov had an excellent season in Russia’s junior league. He almost scored a point per game, with 21 goals and 50 points in 52 games.
For what this draft provided, the Blues did quite well. There likely were no transformative players that will alter a franchise, even within the top five picks.
With that in mind, there is no way to look at this draft but as a positive. The Blues got two picks that were thought of as high prospects in Bolduc and Robertsson.
The other two picks are more projects, but might still have NHL potential. The thing with these players will be patience.
I see this as a two-year project, if not longer, before any of these guys make it to the NHL.
For them, their focus has to be showing well at any and all camps they are invited to. After that, just have good seasons wherever they play and then see what the staff thinks.
Overall, especially for the first draft without Bill Armstrong, this was as solid as it gets, considering the talent available.