A year after upsetting the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs in just five games, the St. Louis Blues just missed the playoffs as the Colorado Avalanche beat them by one point. One of the biggest reasons the Blues regressed this season was the same reason the Blues were able to upset the Wild, Jake Allen. During the five game series against the Wild, Allen held a 0.953 save percentage, but through 59 games this past season, Allen’s save percentage fell to 0.906.
While the Blues will need to figure out their goaltending situation, they otherwise have a fairly decent prospect pool without any immediate concerns and they should be able to comfortably draft the best player available. Last year, the Blues selected two players in the first round, Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin, but they only have one first round pick this year which is from the Winnipeg Jets.
Since 2013, the Blues have only drafted centers in the first round, and that tradition looks to continue here as the Blues use the 29th overall pick to select Isac Lundeström from Luleå HF in the SHL.
The Scouting Report
Listed as primarily a center and secondarily as a left wing by Elite Prospects, Lundeström is 6 feet tall (184 cm) and weighs about 185 lbs (85 kg). As an eighteen year old for most of this past season, Lundeström scored 6 goals and 9 assists in 42 games playing against competition much older than him.
Lundeström is a well-rounded player who does many things well, but nothing particularly extraordinary. If this sounds familar, it’s because Lundeström is the Wild’s favorite kind of prospect, a hard working two-way player who can contribute on offense while being defensively responsible.
Mentally, Lundeström possesses an above average hockey IQ as he regularly displays his ability to read developing plays. He’s also not afraid to crash the net to look for rebounds or deflections. His overall demeanor is calm, but he’s never afraid to take control of any given situation.
Physically, Lundeström has good enough speed to occasionally put defenders on their heels and rounds off his skating with good balance and good overall mobility. He has quick hands that make for fast shots and plenty of playmaking. However, while he isn’t afraid to check, he doesn’t play particularly physically very often.
Lundeström is a low risk pick that will most likely turn out to be an effective, if not outstanding, NHL player. You can watch just some of his highlights here.
How He Fits The Wild
Like a glove. Lundeström is the prototypical Wild player and fits the Wild’s scouting MO to a T. Luckily for us, Lundeström is most often taken around the 20th overall pick in pre-draft rankings and mock drafts, so we shouldn’t have to worry to much about the Wild picking him over more high reward players like Ryan Merkley.
Putting the Wild’s past aside, if Lundeström is the best player available when their pick comes around, he isn’t a bad player to have in your system. Another center in the pipeline is never a bad thing, and it means there’s no problem if Joel Eriksson Ek or Luke Kunin turn out to be better wingers than centers.
How The Wild Get Him
Theoretically, if the Wild were convinced Lundeström was the next Patrice Bergeron, then they could try to trade up a few places in the draft or hope that he falls to them, which is certainly possible. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Wild ultimately selected Lundeström, but it wouldn’t be all that exciting either.
Obligatory Elite Prospects Shoutout