June 24, 2006: With the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, the St. Louis Blues select Erik Johnson, defenseman from the University of Minnesota.
February 19, 2011: The St. Louis Blues have traded defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Jay McClement to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and forward Chris Stewart.
There’s no doubt that Erik Johnson did not work out with the St. Louis Blues. He debuted with the Blues in the 2007-08 season, posting a mere five goals and 28 assists (33 points) in 69 games with the club. Johnson then missed the entire 2008-09 season with a leg injury. But in the 2009-10 season, Johnson competed in almost a full season, playing in 79 games but posting similar stats to the 2007-08 season, posting 10 goals and 29 assists for a total of 39 points.
But in his fourth year with the club, Johnson’s production was way down. He had tallied only five goals and 14 assists through 55 games for the Blues. He then found himself alongside Jay McClement being traded to the Avs. Johnson has remained with the team since being traded in 2010, but only once has he had another season where he recorded more than 30 points.
Johnson can easily be seen as a bust pick for the Blues, now seeing the amount of talent that was located in the 2006 NHL prospect pool. If we can all imagine in a perfect world, here’s some of the players the Blues could have drafted instead. Keep in mind, not all the players would have developed and became the player they are now had the Blues drafted them, but it’s just for thought.
I know you’re cringing at that name. But we all know that Toews is a great player and a tremendous leader. Toews has tallied over 250 goals and 320 assists, totaling 586 points currently in his career. He has also been the captain of Blackhawks during their run in which they won three cups. We all hate him now but had he been in a Bluenote, he would be loved here.
Phil the Thrill. He may not fit the look of a typical NHL goal scorer, but Kessel gets it done. He’s scored nearly 300 goals and after next season, Kessel could surpass 700 career points. Kessel also became a Stanley Cup champ with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
The current Flyers captain fell all the way to 22nd overall, mainly due to his smaller stature. But what he lacked in height, he made up for with heart and grit. Giroux has 176 career goals and 379 assists for a total of 555 points in his career. Giroux also helped the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Finals birth back in 2010 before falling in six games to Toews and the Hawks.
Backstrom isn’t a big goal scorer, but he is a fantastic set-up man. The Swede has 685 career points, 507 of which are assists. It also does help when you’re playing alongside Alexander Ovechkin for most of your career, because the guy is one of the best pure goal scorers in the game today. Regardless, Backstrom would have been a fantastic addition.
Staal, although some don’t consider him a superstar, has been relatively consistent throughout his career. In 10 of his NHL seasons, (not counting the shortened season in 2012-13) Staal has tallied at least 40 points in six of those seasons. During the shortened season in 2012-13, Staal totaled 31 points in 48 games. The Hurricanes also don’t have a full time captain, but Staal has served as an assistant captain since the 2012-13 season.
I won’t go into too much more detail but here is a list of a few other players the Blues could have drafted instead of Erik Johnson: Kyle Okposo, Michael Frolik, Semyon Varlamov, Nick Foligno, Steve Mason, Trevor Lewis.
Oh what could have been. This is the perfect example that hindsight is 20/20.