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2007 NHL Draft Review with Jarmo Kekalainen

by Staff Writer / St. Louis Blues
ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues selected 10 players in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The team selected forwards Lars Eller, David Perron, Simon Hjalmarsson, Travis Erstad, Trevor Nill, Aaron Palushaj, Brett Sonne along with defensemen Ian Cole, Cade Fairchild and Anthony Peluso.

Eller, 18, a native of Rodovre, Denmark, spent last season with Frolunda of the Swedish Junior League recording 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 39 games played. He ranked first on the team with 55 points and 37 assists.

“Lars is a skilled playmaking center with good size and strength,” said Blues Assistant General Manager & Director of Amateur Scouting, Jarmo Kekalainen. “He sees the ice very well and is a creative offensive player.”

The 6-1, 198-pound forward represented Denmark at the 2007 Under-18 World Championships, recording 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in five games played. Eller was ranked third among all European Skaters by Central Scouting.

Cole, 18, an Ann Arbor, Michigan native spent last season with the U.S. National Under-18 team, scoring 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 49 games played. He guided Team USA to the silver medal at the 2007 Under-18 World Championships in Finland, scoring five points (four goals, one assist) in seven games played. The 6-1, 211-pound blueliner will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall.

“Ian is a strong two-way defenseman,” said Kekalainen. “He is hard to play against and makes a good first pass out of the defensive zone. He sees the ice very well and has good poise with the puck. He also brings some grit and character to the Blue depth chart of defensemen.”

Perron, 19, spent last season with Lewiston of the QMJHL, recording 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) in 70 games played. He led all rookies in goal scoring with 39 goals and finished second overall among all QMJHL rookies in points.

“David is a highly skilled forward with excellent hands and offensive instincts,” said Kekalainen.

The 6-0, 180-pound left winger played in the CHL Top Prospects Game, registering an assist. He was ranked 10th among all North American Skaters by Central Scouting.

The Blues selected right wing Simon Hjalmarsson with the 39th pick of the draft. Hjalmarsson, 18, a Varnamo, Sweden native, skated in 41 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Junior League last season, recording 54 points (31 goals, 23 assists) along with 91 penalty minutes. The 5-11, 161-pound forward represented Team Sweden at the 2007 Under-18 World Championships in Finland, leading his team while finishing tied for fifth in the tournament with nine points (four goals, five assists). He was ranked sixth among all European Skaters by Central Scouting.

“Simon is a pure scorer,” said Kekalainen. He played on the same as Eller with the Frolunda Junior Team. He is a competitive player who needs to get stronger, but he has all the tools and has great potential.”

With the 44th pick, St. Louis selected right wing Aaron Palushaj. The Livonia, Michigan native, played last season with Des Moines of the USHL, recording 67 points (22 goals, 45 assists) in 56 games played. He finished second on the team in points and assists. The 5-11, 187-pound winger will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

“Aaron is a competitor, a warrior who can also score,” said Kekalainen.

The Blues picked forward Brett Sonne with the 85th selection. He skated in 71 games with the Calgary Hitmen last season, recording 30 points (21 goals, nine assists) along with 65 penalty minutes. The Chilliwack, British Columbia native, represented Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championships in 2006, scoring two goals in the gold medal game helping Team Canada capture the Gold. The 5-11, 200-pound forward was one of 40 draft eligible players selected to participate in the 2007 CHL Top Prospects Game.

“Brett is a heart and soul type of player,’ said Kekalainen. “He works extremely hard and finishes every check. He has the ability to score the big goals.”

With the 96th overall pick, the team selected defenseman Cade Fairchild from the U.S. National Development Team. The 5-11, 186-pound blueliner tallied 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 40 games played for the U.S. National Development Team. He represented Team USA at the 2007 Under-18 World Championships in Finland, recording seven points (one goal, six assists). The Duluth, Minnesota native will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall.

“Cade is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who knows when and how to join the rush,” said Kekalainen. “He has excellent timing and hockey sense.”

St. Louis selected forward Travis Erstad with the 100th pick. The Madison, Wisconsin native, played for Stevens Point, a Wisconsin high-school, recording 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists) in 20 games played. He also skated in eight games for Lincoln of the USHL. The 6-4, 182-pound forward will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall.

“Travis is a player with a lot of raw tools,” said Kekalainen. “He has excellent size and is a good skater with hands and feel for the game.”

The Blues picked defenseman Anthony Peluso with the 160th pick. He spent last season with the Erie Otters of the OHL. The 6-3, 222-pound defenseman skated in 52 games, recording 10 points (seven goals, three assists). The King City, Ontario native led the team with 176 penalty minutes.

“Anthony is a tough player who played defense last year and racked up 176 penalty minutes,” said Kekalainen. “The Blues would like to see Anthony continue his career as a forward which he played until a couple of years ago. He is tough to play against and is willing to drop his gloves when needed.”

St. Louis selected forward Trevor Nill with the final pick, 190th overall. The 6-3, 185-pound forward played for Compuware Major Midget Team, recording 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 53 games played.

“Trevor is a big forward with a lot of character,” said Kekalainen. “He is a good skater with very good work ethic. He will play in Penticton of the BCHL next year and has a full scholarship to Michigan State the year after.”
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