We have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the NHL’s online services, you agree to these updated documents and to the arbitration of disputes.
Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword

Change of draft location doesn't deter Blues, Jackets

Saturday, 06.27.2009 / 11:54 AM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Larry Wigge - NHL.com Columnist

MONTREAL -- The Columbus Blue Jackets had never made the playoffs and the St. Louis Blues hadn't played in the postseason since 2004. But both rushed into the postseason on the strong legs of draft-driven rosters that were young and exciting to watch.

For their efforts, the Blue Jackets came into the 2009 Entry Draft picking 16th and the Blues were right behind them. No longer were they picking in the top 10 or top 5.

So, how did picking in the middle of the first round change things? Not much, actually. Both teams are into collecting assets and that doesn't stop until Columbus and St. Louis make it out of the first round of the playoffs … and more.

It's still a brick-by-brick process for the Blues and Blue Jackets.

"We've had more picks than most teams, especially first-rounders, the last few years," said Blues President John Davidson. "We just want to do what's right -- do it patient, not impatient.

"It was a process to get to where we are today. I like what we've done. We've seen the contributions by players like David Backes, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund and Erik Johnson and Roman Polak and there are more to come when you look at the progress of an Ian Cole, a Lars Eller, an Alex Pietrangelo, a Philip McRae, a Brett Sonne and so many others.

"We could have 13 players on the Blues next season who have been drafted by the team, trained and cultivated into the St. Louis style of play. That's always important. And I think it has worked because of the kind of character players and hard-working kids we've brought in that St. Louis fans want to come and see."

And they made that huge stretch run from last in the Western Conference to sixth overall without defenseman Erik Johnson, the team's No. 1 overall pick in 2006, who missed the entire season following ACL surgery to his right knee.

"We want to collect as many assets as possible," Davidson said. "Then, someday, when we see the opportunity to acquire a star player, we'll have what it takes in assets to swing such a deal. We think that time is getting closer."

But not close enough for the Blues to waste time in this draft.

"We kept watching the names come off the board and our guy was still there," Davidson said of Swedish defenseman David Rundblad. "You never have too many skilled defensemen -- and this kid was well up there in our top 10."

Top 5, J.D.? "I'm not divulging that, but …"

From the tone in his voice, Rundblad had to be somewhere between No. 4 and 7 on the Blues list.

Columbus first moved back from 16 to 26 and then traded back up to 21 and picked Chicago USHL defenseman John Moore.

"We could have 13 players on the Blues next season who have been drafted by the team, trained and cultivated into the St. Louis style of play. That's always important. And I think it has worked because of the kind of character players and hard-working kids we've brought in that St. Louis fans want to come and see."
-- John Davidson

"We saw the opportunity to get four assets for two when we moved back (Nos. 16 and 77 for 26, 37, 62 and 92)," Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said. "But we were worried that John Moore wouldn't be there at 26 and tried to get up to 17-18-19. We were lucky that he was still there at 21.

"Our philosophy has always been to add to our nucleus of young talent of Rick Nash, Steve Mason, Kris Russell, Derick Brassard, Jakub Voracek, Nikita Filatov and Mark Methot. We're always looking to add to that unbelievable, young experience to play in pressure situations."

And making the playoffs for the first time?

"Expectations go up. This is only the first step," Howson continued. "Hopefully, these draft choices will be the parts that are still in place when we're ready to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

"I've always believed its all about developing, moving and improving."

With the same futuristic asset-hungry mentality, you can expect the Blues and Blue Jackets to continue to climb the ladder in the Western Conference.