An early look at the St. Louis Blues needs for the 2024 NHL Draft

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong should look to improve a few weak areas of his prospects pool in the 2024 NHL Draft.
St Louis Blues v Anaheim Ducks
St Louis Blues v Anaheim Ducks / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Blues aren’t the kind of organization that will just tear everything down and rebuild, so they will instead look to improve their organization by slowly promoting NHL-caliber talent to the big club steadily. But that strategy will also require general manager Doug Armstrong to make the right calls in the 2024 NHL Draft and beyond. 

If there was one priority I outlined in the Blues Ultimate Checklist piece, it involved Armstrong focusing on defense round after round. And before we start our odyssey, you will see why by taking one look at Scott Wheeler of The Athletic’s prospect rankings, where six of the first seven names listed are forwards. 

Right-hand defensemen should be the top priority

Wheeler’s list doesn’t list a single right-hand defenseman until we get to Noah Beck, who is 12th overall in the ranking. The former seventh-round pick spent his previous four seasons at Clarkson University and will play one more year of college hockey at Arizona State. It’s also unclear at this time whether Beck will sign with the Blues, so it only increases the overall sense of urgency here. 

While I’m a huge advocate of picking the best on the board in the first round, the Blues pipeline is so loaded at forward, I’m making an exception here as Doug Armstrong would be better off rolling with the top defenseman available and, ideally, a right-handed blueliner. 

He could have a couple of them fall to 14th overall (or wherever the Blues ultimately land), as names like Carter Yakemchuk and Adam Jiricek could fall. Someone like Yakemchuk would be brilliant, as the 6’3, 194 lbs blueliner already has an NHL frame. And with 71 points and 30 goals for the Calgary Hitmen this past season, you’re looking at a potential steal in the middle of the first. 

Jiricek could still stand to put on some size, but he will gain some valuable experience this year when he plays his first season with HC Plzen in Czechia. Yakemchuk would bring more immediate results, but Jiricek could be worth the wait.