St. Louis Blues Draft 2015: Breaking Down Each Selection


The 2015 NHL Draft wrapped up on Saturday, and the St. Louis Blues made all their selections after losing their first-round pick as a result of the 2014 trade for Ryan Miller. The Blues had six selections in total: three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie.

Due to the front-loaded nature of the NHL Draft, most of these players are up against the odds in terms of becoming impactful NHL players, but they’ll give the Blues some quality organizational depth, which is always nice to have. And after all, the Blues have had some quality luck with getting value out of their later picks over the past few years; 2012 sixth-rounder Petteri Lindbohm broke into the NHL in impressive fashion this past season and is expected to occupy a regular role on the club in 2015-16, while the third-rounder from that same draft, Colton Parayko, is expected to compete for playing time in the NHL this coming season.

Here’s a brief summary of every selection the Blues made, along with how they may factor into the club’s plans going forward:

Round 2, Pick 26 (56 overall): Vince Dunn, Defenseman

18 years old, 6’0, 187, Niagara (OHL)

Dunn, the Blues’ first pick of 2015, is another intriguing addition to a deep young defensive corps within the organization that includes prospects such as Lindbohm, Parayko, Joel Edmundson, Jordan Schmaltz, Tommy Vannelli, and Jake Walman. While he doesn’t have spectacular size, Dunn is viewed as a feisty blueline presence who could be a solid offensive contributor as an NHL player.

After collecting five goals and 28 assists over 63 games during his first season with Niagara, Dunn truly broke out during his second year, scoring 18 goals with 38 assists in 68 contests. Dunn made quite an impression as a second-year junior player, moving his way up from the 53rd overall ranking by among North American position players at the midway point in the season to 32nd by the end of the year.

The 18-year-old is surely a few years away from having a chance to contribute at the NHL level, and with all the other blueline prospects in the organization, he’ll certainly be given all the time he needs to develop. With that said, he’s a nice asset who has the potential to turn into a Kevin Shattenkirk-like two-way contributor as time goes on.

Round 4, Pick 3 (94 overall): Adam Musil, Center

18 years old, 6’3, 202, Red Deer (WHL)

Musil’s a player with deep NHL bloodlines, as his father (Frank), brother (David), and uncle (Bobby Holik) have all played in the league. Unlike his dad and brother, both defensemen, the younger Musil is a power forward, possessing the physical skills to be an intimidating presence up the middle. Musil’s point totals as a junior player haven’t been exceptionally impressive (11 goals and 18 assists over 60 games in 2013-14, 15 goals and 24 assists in 66 games during 2014-15), but his size and chippiness (71 penalty minutes in 14-15) should buy him an opportunity to make it as a pro. If Musil can refine his offensive skills and continue to build his frame a bit, maybe he can develop into the player that the club has long hoped Patrik Berglund would become.

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Round 4, Pick 25 (116 overall): Glenn Gawdin, Center

18 years old, 6’0, 191, Swift Current (WHL)

Gawdin’s production over the past two years in juniors indicates that he could be a quality assist man at the NHL level. After registering a rather pedestrian 10 goals and 15 assists in his debut campaign with Swift Current, Gawdin broke out over his sophomore season and complimented a solid total of 15 goals with a very impressive 39 assists.

The Blues may have gotten a tremendous value picking up Gawdin in the latter part of the fourth round; he was ranked 37th by among North American skaters at the midway point in the season, but after cooling off a bit over the latter part of his second junior campaign, he was dropped to 59th. According to Cody Nickolet at “WHL from Above”, Gawdin “can literally play in any situation you need him to and can often excel in that role”, meaning that he could be a valuable utility player (i.e. Vladimir Sobotka), being able to jump between lines and contribute on the power play or penalty kill.

Round 5, Pick 6 (127 overall): Niko Mikkola, Defenseman

19 years old, 6’4, 185, KalPa Jr. (Finland Junior League)

Unless they’re playing in men’s leagues at an unusually young age, it’s difficult to get a good read on young Swedish and Finnish prospects, as they don’t get a whole lot of exposure in comparison to North American players. Mikkola is one of those players, as he participated in just 37 games for the KalPa junior squad, though he also moved up to the senior KalPa team for 10 games, played five games for Hokki, a Finnish developmental team, and played another four games for the Finnish U-20 team in the 2015 5 Nations Tournament. Mikkola’s junior numbers didn’t exactly reflect those of a player with great offensive potential at the NHL level, as he had nine goals and 14 assists with KalPa Jr. He also appears to have been exceptionally tenacious, as he registered 80 penalty minutes over those 37 contests.

With Mikkola’s impressive size and the potential for him to add further size and strength if he eventually comes to America, he could be a quality long-term investment. The Blues recently had success with Lindbohm, a late-round gamble out of Finland, so there’s no reason to think they don’t have the ability to achieve the same success with Mikkola.

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Round 5, Pick 25 (146 overall): Luke Opilka, Goaltender

18 years old, 6’1, 192, USA U-18 (USHL)

Opilka is the coolest story among this year’s Blues selections, both because of the route he took to becoming a professional hockey player and the fact that he’s a hometown kid who grew up a big Blues fan. Opilka, who grew up in the largely rural location of Effingham, Illinois, started playing youth hockey after being inspired by an uncle who played at the University of Illinois. As an eight-year-old, he came close to quitting the sport due to his lack of success as a defenseman, but he gave the goalie position a try at a friend’s birthday party and has not looked back since. Opilka eventually moved with his brothers to St. Louis in order to be within reasonable distance of his practice locations.

As things stand now, the Blues have Brian Elliott and Jake Allen at the NHL level, with Jordan Binnington, seen by most as an NHL-quality player, backing them up and ready to start at AHL Chicago for a second season. Former fifth-rounder Niklas Lundstrom, who is more of a developmental prospect, is also at the organization’s disposal, as is 2014 fourth-rounder Ville Husso, who opened some eyes at the World Junior Championships last year and  will make his first appearance in America at the Blues’ development camp in early July.

As a fifth-rounder, Opilka may struggle to push himself ahead of guys like Binnington and Husso on the organizational depth chart, but he’ll have the opportunity to make a strong impression in a low-pressure environment over the next few seasons, as he’ll be playing at the University of Wisconsin.

Round 6, Pick 25 (176 overall): Liam Dunda, Left Wing

17 years old, 6’4, 212, Owen Sound (OHL)

Dunda, the Blues’ final pick, certainly needs to develop his puck approach in order to be an NHL player, but he’s a big body who could develop into a solid physical presence down the road. Dunda had just one goal and three assists over his first junior season, then two goals and seven assists over 53 combined junior games this year. It helps matters that Dunda is younger than most of his fellow draft-eligible players, but he also has the physical skills that could help him find a niche role as a pro.

Though fighting skills alone are no longer enough to propel a prospect to a roster spot in the NHL, Dunda may have the skills to succeed as a fourth-line aggressor in the NHL. According to, Dunda participated in four fights this past season in the OHL, while taking part in six the season before. Especially considering the opportunity that he’ll have the opportunity to add more bulk to his frame as he gets into a professional strength training program, Dunda could be a very intimidating presence on the ice once he’s experienced enough to move up to hockey’s highest level.

With the probable exception of Mikkola, who will have trouble making travel arrangements in such a short period of time, the Blues’ draftees are expected to appear at the club’s development camp, which will take place from July 6-9 at the IceZone in St. Louis, and work out alongside 17 other Blues prospects, including recent early picks such as Robby Fabbri, Ivan Barbashev, and Jordan Schmaltz.

Next: Blues Take Vince Dunn, Adam Musil on Draft's Second Day