The 2017 NHL Entry Level Draft starts on June, 23rd. The two-day long event is one of the most exciting for young players who hope to get their names called during one of the seven rounds. This year, the St. Louis Blues have seven picks available to them, pending any future trades. Although the Blues haven’t been the best overall in the previous drafts, they have their list of wins and losses, like every team does. But what are the Blues biggest win and loss in the NHL Draft?
St. Louis Blues: Biggest Win and Loss in the NHL Draft
Tuoman Nissinen – 2001 NHL Entry Draft; Picked 89th Overall
The 2001 NHL Entry Draft was a surprisingly deep draft. Mike Smith was picked in the fifth round, Johnny Oduya was picked in the seventh round, and P.A. Parenteau heard his name called in the ninth round. All three of these players, and so many more from the 2001 Draft, are still playing in the NHL today. Only one of the Blues picks is still playing in the NHL today though, and only two others made it to the big stage at all. Clearly it wasn’t the best year for St. Louis. That can be highlighted by their pick in the third round.
Why was it a Loss?
Tuoman Nissinen was drafted by St. Louis 89th overall. Nissinen played in the Jr. Elite Finnish League in the year prior to being drafted, and even joined Finland in the 2001 World Juniors. The only problem was, he did not perform well. During his regular season, Nissinen started in 40 games and had a 3.22 goals against average. His save percentage was also pretty subpar, chalking up at .897. However, a good goalie prospect could’ve helped the Blues then, so they took the risk on Nissinen. The risk didn’t result in any reward. Nissinen never even played in the AHL. The rest of his career consisted of rough patches in either Finland’s highest league, or their second highest. He was never a solid goalie for any team in Finland, and made a last hurrah in Italy before retiring in 2009, at the young age of 25.
Having a third round pick never play in North America is rough. What’s even harder to swallow is the fact that Patrick Sharp was chosen six picks after Nissinen. Sharp had a pretty good season with the University of Vermont prior to the draft, and all signs showed that he’d make a good bottom line winger eventually. Of course, Sharp went on to exceed those expectations. He’s nearing the end of his career, a career that has been fruitful. Throughout 15 seasons in the NHL, Sharp has registered an impressive 599 points in 869 games. He has won three Stanley Cups, and could arguably be named one of the better wingers of the modern era. Looking back on it, the Blues would’ve loved to have someone of Sharp’s caliber throughout the early 2000’s. Instead, they struggled to find consistency on the wing until around 2010.
Doug Gilmour – 1982 NHL Entry Draft; Picked 132nd Overall
The Blues biggest win of the draft came when it was still 12 rounds long, but only 21 teams participated. The 1982 Draft produced at least one NHL All Star in each of the first seven rounds. Only three of those players went on to become Hall of Famers though: Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Doug Gilmour.
With only nine picks in the 1982 draft, and only one pick in the top three rounds, the chances of the Blues even getting a decent NHL player were very low. In fact, they only had three players even play in the NHL, and only one played more than 42 games. He played a lot more than 42 games, 1,432 more to be exact. That pick was Gilmour, who was chosen 132nd overall.
After roughly six and a half rounds, the Blues picked Gilmour. Due to his small stature, Gilmour was completely overlooked in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. But after an astonishing season in the QMJHL during the 1981-82 season, the Blues thought he was worth the gamble. They thought right. The winger who was ‘too small’ for the league, had at least 50 points in the first 19 years of his career, excluding the lockout year of 1994-95. He had three seasons of 100-or-more points, and won the Stanley Cup once. Needless to say, the gamble paid off.
Why was it a Win?
Gilmour recorded his first 100-point season with the Blues in 1986-87. In total, he had 354 points in 384 games with the Blues. Those numbers alone are very impressive, but they were just the start to Gilmour’s career. After a blockbuster trade, one that didn’t pan out for St. Louis, Gilmour was shipped to the Calgary Flames. He went on to win a Stanley Cup in his first year with them. After three and a half seasons in Calgary, Gilmour went on to play in 15 more seasons with various organizations. After a jaw dropping 1,474 NHL games played, Gilmour retired in 2003. His 1,414 career points were enough to earn him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2011.
Doug Gilmour is one of the legendary players in the league. While he spent the most time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was originally a Blue. And his successes with the Blues alone, despite being a seventh round pick, are enough to make him their biggest steal in the NHL Draft to date.