Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did an interesting column on the importance of Jarmo Kekalainen to the Blues organization. What caught my eye, though, was this part:
The good news is, Kekalainen is a highly regarded talent evaluator who can organize and supervise a scouting staff.
The Blues were delighted when six of their players from Kekalainen’s 2006 draft class participated in the recent World Junior Championships. Previous Jarmo draft picks in St. Louis (including David Backes and Lee Stempniak) are showing promise at the NHL level. There’s nothing dramatic so far; it can take several years to get prospects ready for the NHL. But under Kekalainen’s watch, the Blues are restocking their base of young talent.
And as the chief scout in Ottawa, Kekalainen ran the drafts that brought in future stars Ray Emery, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza. That’s just a partial listing; Kekalainen’s picks are all over the NHL. And while with Ottawa, Kekalainen simultaneously served as IFK Helsinki’s general manager in the Finnish Elite League and won the league championship in 1998. By all indications, this is a brilliant young hockey executive.
Now, for the bad news: Kekalainen’s St. Louis contract expires in June. He has a strong desire to become the first European to run an NHL franchise from the GM’s seat, and looms as an attractive candidate for teams seeking a fresh approach with an emphasis on player development.
Sounds like a good fit for the CBJ, assuming there’s a GM vacancy to fill in June…