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Tkachuk Named Best Draft Pick at No. 19

The former Blues forward was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1990

Wednesday, 06.12.2013 / 12:20 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
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Tkachuk Named Best Draft Pick at No. 19
Keith Tkachuk is the best draft pick at No. 19 in NHL history, according to a 13-member NHL.com panel.


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first NHL Draft, NHL.com assembled a 13-member panel to select the best first-round picks of all time, based on selection number. NHL.com will feature one of the top first-round picks each day, beginning with the best No. 30 pick on June 1 and culminating with the all-time No. 1 pick on June 30, the day of the 2013 NHL Draft. Today, that pick Keith Tkachuk, who was selected at No. 19 back in 1990 by the Winnipeg Jets.

Amateur scouting is an inexact science. Scouts are asked to assess how a 17- or 18-year-old will play in the NHL five years later.

The hardest part of that job could be evaluating American high school players. Their age and the short schedule make it tough to project how a top prospect will perform at the next level.

One of those tough-to-judge players heading into the 1990 NHL Draft was Boston-area high school power forward Keith Tkachuk. After 18 NHL seasons, more than 500 goals and 1,000 points, Tkachuk went from a prep hockey standout to an NHL superstar. He was voted the best No. 19 first-round pick by the 13-member NHL.com Dream Draft panel.

The Jets acquired the No. 19 pick as part of a trade that brought defenseman Phil Housley to Winnipeg in exchange for top scorer Dale Hawerchuk. Now in need of a replacement up front, the Jets opted for Tkachuk.

No. 33 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, Tkachuk's first-round selection was a bit of a surprise after a broken ankle limited him to six games in his senior season at Malden (Mass.) Catholic High School. But in those six games he had 12 goals and 26 points, and at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, the blend of size and skill was too much for the Jets to ignore.

"He was a player that he had a little bit of mystery about him," NHL Network analyst Craig Button said. "But what you saw you really liked."

Tkachuk played one season at Boston University, where he had 40 points in 36 games, then turned pro after a stint with the U.S. national team that culminated with a goal and an assist in eight games at the 1992 Winter Olympics.

He made his NHL debut Feb. 28, 1992 with an assist and a minus-1 rating in a game at the Vancouver Canucks, and he scored his first goal in his fifth game. He finished the 1991-92 season with three goals and five assists in 17 games, then led the Jets with three goals in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

He built on that strong postseason with 28 goals in his first full season, then, after being named captain prior to the 1993-94 season, had 41 goals and 255 penalty minutes. He scored 50 goals in 1995-96, and in 1996-97, the franchise's first as the Phoenix Coyotes, he scored a League-best 52. He became the first American-born player to lead the League in goals, and the fourth player in League history to have at least 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes in the same season.

Traded to the St. Louis Blues in March 2001, Tkachuk had six goals in 12 regular-season games and nine points in 15 playoff games as the Blues reached the Western Conference Final. He had at least 30 goals in each of his first three seasons with the Blues, but with the team sliding down the standings in 2006-07, he was traded to Atlanta Thrashers, and his 15 points in 18 games helped the team make its only Stanley Cup Playoff appearance.

Tkachuk was traded back to the Blues after the season and spent his final three seasons in St. Louis. He became the fifth American to score 500 goals April 6, 2008, and he reached the 1,000-point milestone Nov. 30, 2008.

Tkachuk played in five NHL All-Star Games, four Olympics, and three World Cups of Hockey. When he retired after the 2009-10 season, he had 538 goals and 1,065 points in 1,201 games. He's third among American players in goals, and fifth in points. He's one of three players in NHL history with 500 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes.

Voting results: Keith Tkachuk, Winnipeg (1990) 9; Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim (2003) 3; Robyn Regehr, Colorado (1998) 1

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 63 41 15 7 191 151 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 61 31 29 27 60
A. Steen 59 19 32 4 51
J. Schwartz 54 20 26 16 46
D. Backes 60 20 21 3 41
T. Oshie 53 17 24 12 41
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 53 11 23 10 34
J. Lehtera 54 9 24 16 33
A. Pietrangelo 61 5 27 -3 32
P. Berglund 57 8 11 -2 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 19 9 2 .921 2.21
J. Allen 17 6 2 .905 2.50

 
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