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Well-stocked Blues get their man

by Dan Rosen

OTTAWA – The St. Louis Blues are stacked with prospects attained in the past four drafts. This year they were trying to reload a system that could see a lot of those prospects graduating to the NHL as early as next season.

So, just because the Blues already felt their organizational strength was on the blue line doesn't mean they weren't going after the best player available – defenseman, forward or goalie – with the fourth overall pick Friday night.

The Blues feel they got him, and not surprisingly for this draft, it was a defenseman. Alex Pietrangelo was the guy the Blues’ staff targeted, and he's the guy they were thrilled to land.

"We look down the road and we see an Erik Johnson paired with Alex and we see the puck coming out of our zone nicely," Blues President John Davidson told reporters Friday. "We see a power play. We see a lot of good things. It was a real good pick. For us, it fit what our need was."

The Blues, also fortunate to be picking at Nos. 33 and 34, added a center and a goalie with those picks. Philip McRae, the center, went 33rd and Jake Allen went 34th. Overall the Blues had 10 picks and used three on centermen, three on defensemen and two each on goalies and right wingers.

Here is a look at St. Louis' 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 4 Alex Pietrangelo, D, Niagara (OHL)
Pietrangelo, the sixth-ranked North American skater, led all OHL defensemen in scoring with 53 points on 13 goals and 40 assists this past season. He was an OHL All-Star and participated in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

Pietrangelo also represented Team Canada at the 2007 Ivan Hlinka Under-18 hockey tournament in the Czech Republic. He's a 6-foot-3, 211-pound defenseman who may be NHL ready next season.

No. 33 Philip McRae, C, London (OHL) – The son of former Blue Basil McRae, who just happens to work in their scouting department, is a well-rounded centerman who had 18 goals and 46 points in 66 games this past season for the London Knights. The Minnesota native led the Americans to a bronze medal at the Under-18 World Championship with three goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating.

No. 34 Jake Allen, G, St. John's (QMJHL) – The eighth-ranked North American goalie led Team Canada to the gold medal at the Under-18 World Championship with a .948 save percentage and a 1.43 GAA in seven games. He finished second among QMJHL rookie goalies with a .901 save percentage this past season.

No. 65 Jori Lehtera, C, Tappara (Finland) – The 23rd-ranked European skater by Central Scouting, Lehtera had 42 points in 54 games this past season in Finland.

No. 70 James Livingston, RW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – Livingston, No. 53 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, collected 44 points and 135 penalty minutes in 68 games for the Greyhounds this past season.

No. 87 Ian Schultz, RW, Calgary (WHL) – Schultz, No. 94 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, had 15 goals and 15 assists along with 128 penalty minutes in 67 games in the WHL last season.

No. 95 David Warsofsky, D, USNDTP (USA) – He's only 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds so he's a ways away from the NHL, but he had 32 points in 48 games in the USA Developmental Team Program and was ranked 81st among North American skaters.

No. 125 Kristoffer Berglund, D, Bjorkloven (Swe-2) – The 14th-ranked European skater had 25 points on four goals and 21 assists in 42 games last season in Sweden.

No. 155 Anthony Nigro, C, Guelph (OHL) – Nigro is another high-scoring forward. He notched 24 goals and 24 assists in 67 games for the Storm last season.

No. 185 Paul Karpowich, G, Wellington (OPJHL) – The 6-1, 171-pounder went 15-3-2 with three shutouts and a 2.15 GAA in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League this past.

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