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|26 июня 2010 года.|
Blues embrace forward thinking in draft; Note take Schwartz at No. 14, make deal to land Tarasenko at No. 16 //St. Louis Post - Dispatch
The Blues acknowledged a hole at forward in their organizational depth chart on Friday and attempted to fill it with their first-round pick in the NHL draft. Actually, they filled it twice, acquiring a second pick in the firwst round and selecting another forward.
The newest Blues are center Jaden Schwartz, chosen No. 14 overall with the club's original pick, and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko, chosen No. 16 overall after the team added the pick from Ottawa in exchange for defenseman David Rundblad. Rundblad was the Blues' first-round pick last year, No. 17 overall.
"We're very excited after making the trade (with Montreal recently), losing Lars Eller and Ian Schultz, that we needed to find some forwards," Blues President John Davidson said. "We were going to be happy if we could get one (of either Schwartz or Tarasenko), and if we could get two, we'd be really happy."
In a first round that saw two highly rated defensemen - Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley - slip past the 10th pick, it became interesting to see if the Blues would be forced to take another blue-liner high in the draft. They have chosen defensemen with their first pick in three of the last four drafts.
But Fowler went No. 12 to Anaheim and Gormley went No. 13 to Phoenix, and as it turned out, it probably wouldn't have mattered because the Blues were set on Schwartz.
A 5-foot-10, 180-pound center, Schwartz scored 33 goals and had a league-leading 83 points in 60 games with Tri-City of the United States Hockey League this season. It marked the most points in the league since Thomas Vanek, now with the Buffalo Sabres, netted 91 points in 2001-02. And in doing so at the age of 17, Schwartz was the youngest player to lead the USHL in scoring since 1982-83.
On Friday, Schwartz turned 18 and he said his selection by the Blues was a much-welcomed birthday present.
"It's a very special moment for me and my family," Schwartz said. "I didn't know where I was going to go. My heart was racing. It's my birthday, so it's a very special gift for me. I couldn't be happier about going to an organization like St. Louis."
Schwartz is a Canadian-born player who elected not to play in the Western Hockey League, instead opting for the USHL. Next year, he will attend Colorado College.
"He's been the leading scorer everywhere he's played," said Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues' director of amateur scouting. "His scoring totals are unbelievable. You compare him to the players that played in the Western Hockey League, for example, you can compare him to anybody. A lot of great players in the Western Hockey League that are picked high in the draft today, his points are up there."
Schwartz is the younger brother of Mandi Schwartz, 22, a Yale University hockey player who has gained attention throughout North America recently because of her battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
"She's back in Regina (Saskatchewan) and she's battling cancer," Schwartz said. "She's going to go to Seattle for a bone-marrow transplant pretty soon, so she couldn't make it. I just want to say hello to her because I know she's watching. She means a lot to every single one of us. This is for her."
While Schwartz was speaking with reporters, the Blues made a move to pick up the No. 16 pick. They used it on Tarasenko, 18, who had 13 goals and 11 assists in 42 games with SibirNovosibirsk of the KHL last season.
"He's a tank," Kekalainen said. "Great shot, good speed, good hockey sense, strong on the puck, really strong. There's not a lot of things not to like about him."
Tarasenko, who speaks a bit of English, joked that he's not actually that big. Donning a Blues jersey, he said: "The shirt is big."
Tarasenko has two more years left on his KHL contract, but said Friday, "I don't know where I can play next year, but if I can buy out contract (in Russia), I will come to North America. But we will talk about this when I come back to Russia."
Davidson liked the sounds of that.
"Music to my ears," he said. "We'll see where that goes. We want to be respectful to everybody."
Kekalainen added: "If his name was Walt Smith, he would have been long gone at 16."
The Blues had had some conversations with Ottawa and knew that club was interested in Rundblad. When Los Angeles chose Derek Forbort with the 15th pick, the Blues phoned the Senators and pulled off the deal.
"We needed to fill another area," Davidson said. "David Rundblad is a very good player. He's a great prospect. Ottawa got themselves a good player, but we got two forwards that we needed.
"It's very difficult to fit an Erik Johnson, an Alex Pietrangelo and a (David) Rundblad onto your team at the same time. There's not enough ice. So we've rearranged our depth charts."
The Blues will have five picks today when the draft resumes with rounds 2-7.
When - Today.
Where - Staples Center, Los Angeles.
Schedule - Rounds 2-7 will begin at noon (St. Louis time) and will be shown on NHL Network and NHL.com.
BLUES DRAFT PICKS
Jaden Schwartz, No. 14 overall
Team (league) - Tri-City (United States Hockey League)
Center - 5-feet-10 - 180 pounds
Comment - Schwartz's 83 points last season was the highest total in the USHL since Thomas Vanek, now with the Buffalo Sabres, netted 91 in 2001-02.
Vladimir Tarasenko, No. 16 overall
Team (league) - Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
Right wing - 5-feet-11 - 202 pounds
Comment - Tarasenko had 13 goals and 24 points in 42 games last season, his second in Russia's KHL.