The 2022-2023 season is one Blues fans will want to forget sooner rather than later. Inconstancy, behind-the-scenes drama, and all-around lackluster performance from the team. However, there is still a lot to cheer & hope for; the Blues own three 1st round picks in the 2023 NHL draft coming up. Their own at 10th overall, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 1st rounder, and the New York Rangers’ 1st rounder (The 1st rounder with the Rangers will either be their own first-rounder OR the Dallas Stars’ first-rounder. This is due to the conditions of the Vladimir Tarasenko trade. Rangers own both their own and Stars’ 1st after trading Nils Lundkvist to Dallas. Whoever finishes later in the playoffs determines which of the two first rounders will head to the Blues).
If you don’t want to be rooting for draft position, here is a list of all former Blues players currently playing in this year’s playoffs:
1.) Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari (Toronto Maple Leafs)
This was the trade Toronto needed. Currently, Toronto is up 2-1 in their series against Tampa Bay, and game three was a classic playoff game by O’Reilly. Acciari is also proving to be the winger that should’ve been utilized more here in St. Louis. As much as I want to hope for a higher draft pick, Seeing the former captain take control of these games is some entertaining hockey. So much so that I find myself rooting for The Maple Leafs, time will tell if they can finally get past the first round, but not only that maybe make it to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
2.) Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikko Mikkola, and Jaroslav Halák (New York Rangers)
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the fact that you’re also happy to see Vladi be happy. After his dramatic exit from the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko has been an amazing addition for the Rangers. New York is seeing the amazing scoring touch that he has and Tarasenko is outshining the Rangers’ other deadline acquisition in Patrick Kane. The Rangers currently have a 2-1 series lead against the New Jersey Devils. Along with Tarasenko is former Blues D-Man Nikko Mikkola to stabilize the back end for the Rangers and also the final former Blues player to mention on this Rangers squad is Jaroslav Halák. The former Blues 2011-2012 William M. Jennings Trophy winner is still hanging around the NHL in a backup role as he signed this last offseason to back up Igor Shesterkin.
3.) Ivan Barbeshev and Alex Pietrangelo (Vegas Golden Knights)
The powerhouse of the Pacific Division known as the Vegas Golden Knights got the depth they needed for the final stretch of the regular season by acquiring Ivan Barbeshev. We also remember how amazing he was in playoffs for being a heck of a spark plug. Along with Barbeshev, another former Captain of the Blues Alex Pietrangelo is still with the Golden Knights and will be for the next 4 years. Since leaving the Blues in free agency Pietrangelo has been the anchor of the Golden Knight’s blue line. The Golden Knights currently sit in a 2-1 series lead over the Winnipeg Jets.
4.) Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn (Seattle Kraken)
Jaden Schwartz, who was in the same draft as Vladimir Tarasenko, left the Blues in free agency in 2021. One of the main reasons was that Schwartz wanted to be closer to his family. Since Joining the Kraken, he’s been a steady forward for them and provides leadership for the young franchise. One of the biggest surprises when the Kraken selected a Blues player for their expansion draft was Vince Dunn. With Tarasenko available, the Kraken chose defenseman Vince Dunn and he’s proven to be one heck of a D-Man for them. This past season Dunn destroyed his career totals and at the perfect time, as he will be a UFA this upcoming season. Kraken are currently down 1-2 in the series against the Colorado Avalanche.
5.) Patrick Maroon, Ian Cole, And Brian Elliott (Tampa Bay Lighting)
With The Blues having three 1st Rounders this upcoming draft, why not mention one of three of their 2007 1st rounders in Ian Cole? A bit older and rougher around the edges as D-Man go, he’s bringing his toughness and wisdom to the Lightning. He’s won back-to-back in Pittsburgh, so he knows what it takes to win it all. Someone who knows it more is the three-time Stanley Cup Champ, Pat Maroon. This beauty of a St. Louis native continues to make a name for himself in Tampa Bay, and with four consecutive Cup Finals appearances, he’s hoping to go for five. Lastly, in Tampa Bay, you have Goaltender Brian Elliott, who is STILL number one in Blues shutouts and shares that previously mentioned 2011-2012 William M. Jennings Trophy with Jaroslav Halák.
6.) Klim Kostin (Edmonton Oilers)
Former 2017 1st Round Pick Klim Kostin headed to Edmonton after being traded in October. In Edmonton, Kostin is finally starting to bloom how we wished he would in St. Louis. He’s finding his game again, and it adds good depth for Edmonton and gives star player Connor McDavid another player to cycle through. Edmonton is currently in a series tied 2-2 against the L.A. Kings.
7.) Oskar Sundqvist and Ryan Reaves (Minnesota Wild)
On June 23, 2017, Doug Armstrong would make a trade: Ryan Reaves and a 2017 2nd Round (Zachary Lauzon) pick to Pittsburgh for Oskar Sundqvist and a 2017 1st Round Pick. Here we are almost six years from that trade and both players are the depth for the Wild’s playoff run. Sundqvist who started this year in Detroit found his way back into the West and the same for Ryan Reaves who was in New York. When you have those two players in your bottom-six forward group you can guarantee that you’ll have that dump and-crash play with also a surprising once in the blue moon scoring touch. Minnesota is tied 2-2 against Dallas.
8.) Paul Stastny And Mackenzie MacEchern (Carolina Hurricanes)
Former Blues star Center Paul Stastny is still beating everyone and anyone at face-offs at age 37. Stastny has bounced around the league since being traded to Winnipeg back in 2018. He’s one of the older players this year still trying to get his name on the cup, and with almost 1,150 games played, he’s paid his dues to try and etch his name on Lord Stanley. Another name to recently come up is Mackenzie MacEchern, Demoted down to the AHL all of last year, he plays up in the NHL for this playoff run and made the most of the opportunity by recently netting a goal and assist in the 5-2 win over the Islanders which puts Carolina on top 3-1 in the series.
9.) Lars Eller And Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche)
We go way back in time for these two players, Lars Eller was a part of that trio of 1st rounders back in 2007 and was a key trade piece in bringing in Jaroslav Halák to St. Louis. Since then, he’s had a long career with both Montreal and Washington, of course winning it all in 2018. As for the Blues’ only 1st overall pick in Erik Johnson, he’s still the same steady eddy on defense for Colorado as they look to go back to back this year. I hope the Kraken can steal this series and beat them for a quick first-round exit. Colorado leads Seattle 2-1 in the series.
10.) Phoenix Copley And Jani Hakapää (LA Kings And Dallas Stars)
The last two players on the list are Phoenix Copley, who spent his time being more of a throw-in chip with trades between the Blues and Capitals, and Jane Hakapää, who the Blues let walk after drafting him in the 4th round way back in 2010.
Copley will be forever intertwined with two Blues trades:
1.) Coming over with Troy Brouwer as the return for T.J. Oshie
2.) Being shipped back to Washington with Kevin Shattenkirk for Zach Sanford and the 1st round pick in 2017, we later traded to Philadelphia for Brayden Schenn.
Whether the players were recently traded, left the Blues years ago, or simply never had enough chance to sport the Blue Note, talent always finds its way through the Gateway to the West.