On the one hand, you have to hand it to the GM’s of the Blues in the 1990’s. Despite some truly putrid drafting, the team never missed the playoffs once in the decade.
In fact, it wasn’t until their ownership stripped everything from the team, including a Hall of Fame defender, in the early 2000’s that the Blues had their playoff streak ended.
You could argue that those bad drafts caught up to them then, but the sale of the team had little to do with the minor league system. It was poor financial management.
Still, despite names like Hull, Gretzky, Tkachuk, Weight, Pronger and MacInnis playing in St. Louis, none came from the system. As noted, out of three first rounders, only Jackman played the vast majority of his career here.
The other two first rounders were either trade bait or, simply, didn’t pan out. Not all first round picks pan out for any team, but you’ve got to hit on some of them, especially if you have them so infrequently.
In recent years, the Blues have been much better. Almost two thirds of their Stanley Cup winning team was drafted by the organization.
The Blues still have exciting pieces they’ve drafted recently that should have promising NHL careers. That was not true a couple decades ago.
Granted, the league and the minors were different. Even so, to not even call up some of these guys shows how bad their eye for talent was. Players get hurt all the time, so if you’re not counting on your draft picks, you’ve failed your farm system and your franchise.
Somehow, it never tanked the organization. I don’t think St. Louis would be as lucky if they went through a similar period of poor drafting now.