The Blues made two major trades during the NHL Draft on Friday night, sending Ryan Reaves to the Penguins and Jori Lehtera to the Flyers. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Nicholas Hand

After coming up just short on several occasions, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong broke through addressing the team’s desperate need for a second scoring-line center on Friday night during the NHL Draft.

Nearing the end of the first round, Armstrong packaged center Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick in the draft and a conditional 2018 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for center Brayden Schenn.

It was the first of two trades made by the Blues during the draft, as they also sent forward Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 25-year old Schenn scored 25 goals and 30 assists last season in 79 games and has three years remaining on his current contract at a $5.125 million average annual value against the salary cap.

Schenn provides the Blues another scoring-line center along with Paul Stastny and gives head coach Mike Yeo another center to pair with franchise forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

The move also rids the Blues of Lehtera’s $4.7 million cap hit for the next two seasons and the Blues did not have to retain any of Lehtera’s salary in the deal.

Prior to the major deal with the Flyers, the Blues drafted center Robert Thomas, a soon to be 18-year old from Aurora, Ontario who plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Thomas, a 5=foot-10 176 pound forward, scored 16 goals and 50 points with the Knights as a 17-year old.

Armstrong then moved the Blues back into the first round with another major trade, sending Reaves and the 51st overall pick in this year’s draft to the Penguins for Oskar Sundqvist and the last first-round pick (31st overall).

The Blues used that pick to select highly skilled Klim Kostin, a wildcard selection from Penza, Russia who was injured for much of the 2016-2017 season. The 18-year old Kostin is 6-foot-3. 200 pounds and was widely projected to be a high first-round pick before suffering a shoulder injury. Kostin has already played eight games in the KHL and projects to be an NHL power-forward.

Sundqvist is a 23-year old right-handed center who was drafted in the third round by the Penguins in 2012. Sundqvist is 6-foot-3. 209 pounds and has seen limited time with the Penguins in two seasons (28 games) scoring one goal and three assists.

Sundqvist will likely be competing for a bottom-six role with the Blues this season and continues the organization’s philosophy to improve their depth at center.

While the trade of Reaves is surprising for many fans, the Blues do have internal options in their system to replace Reaves on the fourth line including 20-year old Adam Musil, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound right-handed center and winger who had a stellar postseason for the Chicago Wolves last spring. Musil also had 74 penalty minutes in 56 games with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League in major juniors this past season.

The other internal option is current restricted free-agent Jacob Doty, a 24-year old heavyweight at 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who is not afraid to drop the gloves with 163 penalty minutes in the 2015-16 season with the Chicago Wolves and 126 penalty minutes with the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL.

With the combination of moves on Friday, the Blues now have nearly $11 million in salary cap space with the center position addressed and restricted free-agent defenseman Colton Parayko the only large contract upcoming.

With the moves and modest salary cap space, it is likely that the Blues will now be looking for a top-six right winger when the free agent signing period begins on July 1.