Well, this isn’t necessarily good news or good timing. A month away from the 2010 Entry Draft, the Blues’ director of amateur scouting, Jarmo Kekalainen, has decided to resign his post and return to his native Finland to be the GM of Jokerit. This is not particularly good news for us, though it is good news for Kekalainen and Jokerit and I’m sure Blues fans wish him the best.
But really – now? Before the draft, and before Doug Armstrong takes over as GM? Horrible timing. Armstrong and outgoing GM Larry Pleau now have to poke around for a replacement, all while probably relying on previous scouting reports and any assistant scouts’ ideas, to figure out who to draft. The combine starts today – who in the world are the Blues going to send up there? JD, I’m sure, as well as Armstrong and possibly Pleau… but no one knows about the prospects like Kekalainen does. We’re picking in the middle of the pack, so there aren’t any surefire picks that’ll be handed to us.
Kekalainen’s expertise has landed the Blues some outstanding players over the past several seasons - Lee Stempniak, David Perron, Lars Eller, TJ Oshie, Roman Polak, David Backes, Alex Pieterangelo, Erik Johnson, and Patrik Berglund were all scouted by him. With the exception of Stempniak, all of them are still in the Blues organization, and all look to be future keystones to this franchise.
The Blues need to take a look at TSN’s off-season game plan for them, (my expert analysis forthcoming) but first thing’s first – get someone to fill this position, and stat. Who they’ll get with his level of talent, I have no idea. The team might not want to spend a lot on a big name free agent, but they better get someone good to fill these shoes.
EDIT: In an intervew with Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch, Kekalainen said that he’ll be joining the Blues at the combine and at the draft. *whew*