St. Louis Blues

Using pick from Brian Elliott trade, St. Louis Blues grab a center

Using one of the picks they obtained from the Calgary Flames in the Brian Elliott trade the day before, the St. Louis Blues on Saturday chose Sarnia Sting center Jordan Kyrou with the first of two second-round picks.

Kyrou (6-foot, 175 pounds) had 17 goals and 51 points in 65 games last season with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League. He also had five points in eight games for Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship.

Scouting reports have Kyrou as a strong skater and mobile playmaker with above average puck-handling skills.

“He’s really probably one of the best players off the rush and he’s extremely talented with his speed, skill and ability to create offense and separation,” said Bill Armstrong, the Blues’ Amateur Scouting Director. “He’s still along ways away from the NHL with his body type, but he has some really great qualities.

“He’s still got some work to do on his body and his consistency to be able to play at the highest level. That’s the reason we were able to get him where he was, because he definitely has top two-line skills.”

He’s really probably one of the best players off the rush and he’s extremely talented with his speed, skill and ability to create offense and separation.

Blues Scouting Director Bill Armstrong on second-round pick Jordan Kyrou

With their second pick in Round 2 at No. 59 overall, the Blues selected Sherbrooke goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick. The 6-3, 206-pound Fitzpatrick was Team Canada’s goaltender at the Under-18 World Championship last spring.

Scouting reports say he plays a hybrid style and has much upside because of his superior size and quickness.

Playing in the notoriously high-scoring Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with Sherbrooke, Fitzpatrick was 18-34 with a 3.42 goals-against average and .892 save percentage with two shutouts.

“He’s extremely athletic and big,” Armstrong said. “He was sitting there for us and he has No. 1 goaltender ability in the NHL to be a starter, but obviously he’s got a long way to go. He has the intangibles to be a starter.”

In the fourth round, the Blues drafted another center in Tanner Kaspick from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League.

Known for a heavy shot and strong skating, Kaspick had 13 goals and 31 points in 53 games last season for Brandon.

A trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for a fifth-round pick in 2017 allowed the Blues to draft twice in the fifth round.

We always believed that he’s got the talent, He was looking for a second chance and he got it with us.

Bill Armstrong on former first-round draft pick Conner Bleackley

They used their first pick in Round 5 on Northeastern University center Nolan Stevens, the son of Los Angeles Kings associate head coach John Stevens. Stevens (6-3, 183) had 20 goals and 42 points in 41 games with Northeastern last season.

The Blues made an intriguing selection with their second pick in the fifth round at 144th overall, choosing 20-year-old center and 2014 Colorado Avalanche first-round pick Conner Bleackley. A bit of a gamble because of two significant injuries last season (wrist injury and a broken knee cap), Bleackley still is further along than other prospects because of his age and could make the jump to the Blues’ AHL farm team in Chicago with a strong showing.

Armstrong said the Blues had a good line on Bleackley through an adjunct scout who had coached him previously. Armstrong urged Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong to make the deal with Chicago to move up and draft Bleackley.

“I said ‘We’ve got to find a way to get this guy, this is too high of a talent level for this kid to be sitting here at this time,”’ Bill Armstrong said. “Doug can be very creative and really reacted quick and was able to get the deal done.

“We really talked to him a lot and one of our adjunct scouts had coached him and had talked to him a lot.”

Bleackley had 13 goals and 46 points in 55 games last season with Red Deer of the Western Hockey League. He could have been signed by Arizona, which had his rights following a Feb. 29 trade with the Avalanche that involved Mikkel Boedker, but the Coyotes passed and Bleackley re-entered the draft.

Arizona also picked up a compensation pick when Bleackley didn’t sign.

“We always believed that he’s got the talent,” Bill Armstrong said. “He was looking for a second chance and he got it with us. He’s certainly got some motivation and he’s learned through having to go through a lot of adversity.”

The Blues used their two seventh-round picks on Czech Republic forward Nikolaj Krag Christensen (6-3, 2-1) and left winger Filip Helt (6-1, 176), a native of Denmark.

Krag Christensen had a combined seven goals and 17 points in 39 games with two Rodovre teams in Denmark. He also played for Denmark at the Under-18 World Championship and the Under-20 World Juniors.

Helt had 20 goals and 46 pointsin 42 games last season in the Czech Under-18 league, also seeing some action with the Under-20 team.

On Friday, the Blues selected University of Connecticut center Tage Thompson with the 26th overall pick in the first round. The Blues made a trade with the Washington Capitals to move up two spots to grab Thompson, the son of former NHL defenseman and former Peoria Rivermen assistant coach Brent Thompson.

“Raw is the right word,” Bill Armstrong said. “He’s close to 6-6 and he’s a skinny kid that has a lot of potential. The one thing that we love about him is he’s a focused kid and he’s constantly getting better with a huge upside. Hes’ got to put some work in and he’s along way from being an NHL player, but he’s got a lot of good stuff about him.”

Also on Friday, Swansea’s Clayton Keller made history by becoming the first metro-east player chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft. Keller, a Boston University recruit, went to the Arizona Coyotes with the seventh overall pick.

He was one of a record five St. Louis-area players (all former teammates of Keller’s) chosen in the first round. The list included Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary), Logan Brown (Ottawa), Luke Kunin (Minnesota) and Trent Frederic (Boston). Another St. Louis area product, goalie Joseph Woll, went to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday with the first pick of the third round.

That gave St. Louis five draft picks in the first round and six picks in the top 62 overall.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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