In anticipation of this weekend’s 2014 NHL Entry Draft, where the St. Louis Blues have the #21 pick overall, we continue our three-part series of the Blues’ first-round picks of past amateur drafts. In part one, we looked at the selections made during the franchises’ infancy and the progression the club was looking to make in successive years. In part two, we look at the skaters chosen from 1980 to the turn of the century.
A Californian roller hockey phenom as a youth, Wilson quickly adapted to the ice and was selected in the first round. At the age of 20, the defenseman netted 21 points in his 1981 rookie campaign. He spent five seasons with the ‘Note, netting 21 goals and 60 assists. Wilson was acquired by Calgary in the 1985-86 season and saw minimal action. In a brief career rebound, he played 14 games with Chicago in 1987, notching four goals and five assists.
He retired from the ice in 1993 and went on to play for the St. Louis Vipers’ roller hockey franchise for three seasons, where he collected 110 points in 55 games. Wilson is the currently the owner of Power Play Personal Training in Des Peres, MO, which just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of operation.
1981: Marty Ruff (20th overall)
The Blues’ first-round defenseman never played a NHL game. Missed the team’s 1981 training camp and the early stages of the 1981-82 season with mononucleosis. After being assigned to the minors, knee and shoulder injuries plagued his skating career, both in the WHL and the IHL. Ruff dressed for the Peoria Rivermen for two seasons, notching three goals and seven assists from 1984-86, and then retired due to continuing knee problems. His older brother, Lindy, coached the Buffalo Sabres from 1997-2013 and is currently the head coach of the Dallas Stars.
The Blues’ first pick at that draft was in Round 3, where they selected defenseman Mike Posavad, who played eight games with the ‘Note.
Not only did the franchise not have a first round pick at the ’83 Draft, it didn’t have any altogether. Here’s the short version of a very long and complicated story. Midway through the 1982-83 season, owner Ralston Purina Co., wishing to get out of the hockey business, wanted to sell the Blues to investors in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The NHL would not approve the sale and, as a result, a $20 million anti-trust lawsuit was filed by Ralston Purina against the NHL, then NHL-president John Zeigler and franchises that either voted against the sale or abstained.
A counter suit filed by the NHL against Ralston Purina and the withdrawal of the offer from the Saskatoon group ensued. Incensed Ralston Purina executives boycotted the 1983 Draft by not sending a representative, marking the first and only time a franchise did not participate in an NHL draft. (A more detailed account can be found in this 2009 story posted at stlouisgametime.com.)
Under new owner Harry Ornest, the Blues did not pick until the second round, where they drafted defenseman Brian Benning and center Tony Hrkac.
The Blues did not pick until the second round, where they drafted winger Herb Raglan.
After a long drought of first round picks, the Blues went with Lemieux, an All-Star left-winger from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In his rookie season, he notched 10 goals and eight assists in 53 games. A sub-par start in 1987 sent him to Peoria, where there was little to note. Lemieux would go one to be a journeyman player in the NHL, spending tenure with six other franchises in his 13-year career.
His greatest success would come with a four-year stint with Chicago from 1990-94. He played in close to 600 games overall before retiring in 1999. Lemieux currently is a popular hockey analyst for RDS, a Canadian sports cable channel.
1987: Keith Osborne (12th overall)
The winger played only five games for the Blues in his freshman campaign, collecting two assists and eight penalty minutes. Osborne was sent to Peoria, where he collected a respectable 47 points in 56 games. He bounced around the minors over the next four years and then was picked up by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 NHL Expansion Draft. In 11 games, he collected one goal and one assist, but was then sent back to the IHL.
Osborne retired from the ice in 2001 and is currently the General Manager and Head Coach of the Welland Jr. Canadians, an Ontario-based junior hockey franchise.
After being drafted by the Blues, the forward skated with Michigan State of the CCHA in 1988, but once he made his St. Louis debut one season later, Brind’ Amour made an immediate impact. In his rookie ledger, he netted 25 goals and 35 assists and was selected to the NHL All-Rookie Team. The following year, his production slipped to 17 goals. Brind’ Amour became part of a four-player trade with Philadelphia, a move that blossomed his career. He spent nine seasons with the Flyers and was named a member of the 1992 All-Star team. In 1993, he recorded a personal best of 35 goals and 62 assists. He was also considered one the NHL’s “ironmen,” as his streak of 484 consecutive games played set a franchise record.
Brind’ Amour was acquired by Carolina in 1999, leading to an on-ice tenure that would last 10 seasons. As a member of the Hurricanes, he hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2006 and won the Frank J. Selke Trophy twice (2005-06, 2006-07) as the forward with most defensive skill. Brind’ Amour finished his 20-year NHL career in 2010 with 452 goals, 732 assists and 1,110 penalty minutes. He became the Hurricanes’ assistant coach the following year, a position he currently holds.
The 6-2 defenseman was never considered one that could supplement scoring. Rather, he was a powerful presence that was willing to drop the gloves, if needed. His NHL career with the Blues lasted only two games in the 1991-92 season, where he collected one goal and had four penalty minutes. Marshall found himself primarily in Peoria, plying his trade with the Rivermen until 1994. A six season stint in Anaheim followed, where his highest penalty count in one season was 189 minutes in 1997-98.
His 12-year NHL career included stops in Washington, San Jose, Minnesota and inevitably back to Anaheim. Over 1,000 penalty minutes were amassed before retirement. Marshall is currently the Head Coach of Varsity Hockey for Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California.
1990: Pick traded to Montreal Canadiens
With this pick, the Habs selected winger Turner Stevenson, who played 14 seasons in the NHL.
1991: Pick transferred to Washington Capitals as compensation
1992: Pick transferred to Washington Capitals as compensation
1993: Pick transferred to Washington Capitals as compensation
1994: Pick transferred to Washington Capitals as compensation
1995: Pick transferred to Washington Capitals as compensation
St. Louis’ five, consecutive first-round draft picks was the compensation given to Washington as a result of the Blues’ signing of defensemen Scott Stevens for the 1990-91 season. Stevens, who signed with the ‘Note in four-year, $5.145 million deal (making him the highest-paid defenseman at the time) played only one year with St. Louis. Included in Washington’s first-round draft picks was future All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar and long-tenured Cap Brendan Witt.
In a draft held at St. Louis’ then-named Kiel Center, the Blues picked a 6-1 center that had just completed his junior season at Boston College. Reasoner bounced back and forth between the Blues and the Worcester Icecats (the team’s AHL affiliate) for three seasons. His NHL stats with the ‘Note resulted in 17 goals and 30 assists in 95 games. Reasoner’s journey continued with stops in Edmonton, Boston, Atlanta, Florida and the New York Islanders. Since the expiration of his two-year Islander contract in 2013, Reasoner has been an unrestricted free agent and has not played in the NHL.
1997: Pick traded to Los Angeles Kings
This would be the first-round draft pick that the Blues surrendered to Los Angeles for 1996’s 5-for-1 trade that involved NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. With the pick, #15 overall, the Kings selected winger Matt Zultek, who never signed with the club.
The Swedish defenseman did not play in the NHL until the 2002-03 season. His five seasons with St. Louis resulted in 18 goals and 45 assists in 228 games. In 2006, Backman won a goal medal with Team Sweden at the Turin Winter Olympics. He was traded to the New York Rangers in February 2008 for a fourth round draft pick. Five months later, Backman was traded to Columbus in a four-player deal. Not a member of the Blue Jackets roster the following season, he signed with Forlunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League in October 2009, where he has been ever since.
When drafted at the age of 18, Jackman was a core member of the WHL’s Regina Pats and his NHL career with the Blues began during the 2001-02 season, where he appeared in one game. In the next season, the defenseman played all 82 regular season games with the ‘Note, collecting three goals, 16 assists and 190 penalty minutes. As a result of his play, Jackman won the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy, also known as the “Rookie of the Year.”
The following year saw a dip in production as a shoulder injury limited his play to 15 games. During the NHL’s 2004-05 lockout season, Jackman appeared in 28 games for the United Hockey League’s Missouri River Otters, where he recorded 20 points.
Once the NHL got into full swing again in 2005-06, he became a continuing constant for the organization. All of Jackman’s 756 NHL career games have been played with St. Louis, where he has notched 28 goals, 145 assists and 1,037 penalty minutes. Currently the longest tenured athlete in St. Louis professional sports, Jackman heads into the upcoming season in the final year of a three-year contract extension, signed in 2012.
COMING UP TOMORROW IN PART THREE IN OUR THREE-PART SERIES: A look at the first round draft picks from 2000-13, seven of which played on the main roster last season.
(Image credit: The Trading Card Database and JCS Associates)