Would Blues’ fans mind if general manager Doug Armstrong returned from Sunday’s NHL draft with so many first-round selections it took two hands to count them?
“We could walk out of this draft with eight first-round picks if we want … easy,” Armstrong said. “But I don’t want to do that, our fan base, I don’t believe, wants that and I know our owner doesn’t want that. We’re not going to be in a perpetual rebuilding process. We could walk out of here with pick Nos. 12-20. But where does that put the organization?”

As it sits now, the Blues do not own a first-round pick heading into the NHL draft, which begins at 2 p.m. (St. Louis time). The club isn’t in the mode to trade players for high picks; in fact, it’s the opposite.

The Blues dealt their 2013 first-rounder to Calgary for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to partner him with Alex Pietrangelo and improve the team’s immediate chances of competing. After an end-of-the-season feeling-out process, Armstrong says that having Bouwmeester in the fold from day one should benefit the group as a whole heading into 2013-14.

“Now we have three very speedy players in ‘Petro,’ ‘Bouw’ and ‘Shatty,’ (Kevin Shattenkirk) that’s very, very important to the team,” Armstrong said. “Then having very good, defined NHL players in Roman (Polak) and (Barret) Jackman in our five and then with (Kris) Russell, (Ian) Cole and potentially (Jordan) Leopold, I think our defense is going to be stable for many years moving forward now.”

Bouwmeester, who will turn 30 on Sept. 27, joined the Blues for the final 14 games of the regular season, notching a goal and six assists, and in his first-career playoff action finished with an assist in six games.

“I think you just try to keep building,” Bouwmeester said. “This was a goofy year for everyone. It was a short year, a compressed year, that sort of thing. Next year, you’ve got a full training camp. For a guy like myself, who’s kind of new, that will be good to get kind of settled. It’s a fine line between success and where we’re standing. It’s just a matter of getting it done.”

Pietrangelo, who had a 51-point season in 2011-12, struggled for much of last season as the Blues rotated his defensive partners. He finished with five goals and 24 points in 47 regular-season games but seemed to grow more comfortable down the stretch.

“I talked to he and Shattenkirk,” Armstrong said. “I thought they could do 100 percent of their job and maybe five percent of somebody else’s job, but in reality they were still at the ability to just do 100 percent of their job. I thought they both did better when we got experienced guys around them. It showed to me that they’re still in that part of their career where they just have to worry about themselves.

“And I also think this is the first time that either player played on a good NHL team, one where you know you’re going to get the other team’s ‘A’ game. So the game got a lot harder for them, but I think they’re both going to be very good at it. It’s something you learn from.”

On Wednesday, the Blues showed their commitment to Shattenkirk, finalizing a four-year, $17 million extension.