River Readings, Apr. 29, 2012

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By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department


CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

New faces likely at Carver Arena in 2012-13

After the jump, a graphic look at the 2011-12 Rivermen roster, and a look ahead at players who may "play in Peoria" for 2012-13. Stay tuned...

The players shown in blue below are Blues' prospects (players under 25 years of age and signed to NHL contracts by the Blues). Players shown in grey are either players older than "prospect age," or players signed directly by Peoria to AHL contracts, rather than to NHL contracts.

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Player Ps/S Hgt Wgt DOB 2011-12 Club GP G A Pts +/- PIM Contract Status
BARRIBALL, Jay RW/R 5-09 175 05-27-87 Peoria (AHL) 21 4 9 13 + 1 14 RFA 2012
BRUTON, Chris RW/R 5-11 205 01-23-87 Peoria (AHL) 38 2 3 5 - 7 66 AHL Contract
CHEECHOO, Jonathan RW/R 6-00 200 07-15-80 Peoria (AHL) 70 25 31 56 + 3 24 UFA 2012
CRACKNELL, Adam C/R 6-02 214 07-15-85 Peoria (AHL) 72 23 26 49 +18 54 Signed thru 2012-13 (U)
CUNDARI, Mark D/R 5-10 195 04-23-90 Peoria (AHL) 48 3 12 15 -10 62 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
DELLA ROVERE, Stefan LW/L 5-11 200 02-25-90 Peoria (AHL) 69 4 6 10 -12 116 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
EVANS, Brennan D/L 6-04 225 01-06-82 Peoria (AHL) 76 2 5 7 + 1 125 UFA 2012
FAIRCHILD, Cade D/L 5-11 190 01-15-89 Peoria (AHL) 68 8 26 34 +26 32 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
GRACHEV, Evgeny LW/L 6-04 222 02-21-90 Peoria (AHL) 39 3 7 10 - 4 18 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
HAGEL, Kyle LW/L 6-00 205 01-21-85 Peoria (AHL) 7 0 1 1 0 15 UFA 2012
HENSICK, T.J. C/R 5-10 185 12-10-85 Peoria (AHL) 66 21 49 70 - 5 20 Signed thru 2012-13 (U)
HESHKA, Shaun D/R 6-01 208 06-30-85 Peoria (AHL) 60 4 14 18 + 3 12 AHL Contract
McRAE, Phil C/L 6-03 200 03-15-90 Peoria (AHL) 71 23 16 39 -10 26 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
NESBITT, Derek LW/L 6-00 185 04-16-82 Peoria (AHL) 75 22 33 55 - 7 14 AHL Contract
NIGRO, Anthony C/L 6-00 180 01-11-90 Peoria (AHL) 75 13 12 25 +12 36 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
PELUSO, Anthony RW/R 6-04 234 04-18-89 Peoria (AHL) 61 4 5 9 + 2 159 RFA 2012
PONICH, Brett D/L 6-07 225 02-22-91 Peoria (AHL) 61 0 5 5 0 47 Signed thru 2013-14 (R)
SHATTOCK, Tyler RW/R 6-03 200 02-03-90 Peoria (AHL) 65 7 8 15 - 5 20 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)
SHIELDS, David D/R 6-03 205 01-27-91 Peoria (AHL) 48 0 4 4 - 4 10 Signed thru 2013-14 (R)
SONNE, Brett C/L 6-00 200 05-16-89 Peoria (AHL) 70 8 9 17 - 9 40 RFA 2012
STERLING, Brett LW/L 5-08 174 04-24-84 Peoria (AHL) 54 22 26 48 + 7 74 UFA 2012
SYVRET, Danny D/L 5-11 203 06-13-85 Peoria (AHL) 75 7 35 42 0 24 UFA 2012
Player Ps/C Hgt Wgt DOB 2011-12 Club GP Min GA GAA Sv% SO Contract Status
ALLEN, Jake G/L 6-02 190 08-07-90 Peoria (AHL) 38 2148 105 2.93 .915 1 Signed thru 2012-13 (R)

The following list of players represents:

-- Players who will have completed their major junior or NCAA eligibility, and are eligible to turn pro for 2012-13. Note that Cody Beach, Paul Karpowich and Jaden Schwartz have already signed ELC's with the Blues.

-- Players whose rights are owned by the Blues, whose European contracts have expired, and who are free agents eligible to sign NHL contracts with the Blues. Note that Jori Lehtera and Sebastian Wännström have previously signed ELC's with the Blues, and the clock will start ticking on those contracts if the players "cross the pond" and begin playing professionally in North America next season.

Player Ps/S Hgt Wgt DOB 2011-12 Club GP G A Pts +/- PIM Contract Status
BEACH, Cody RW/R 6-05 190 08-08-92 Moose Jaw (WHL) 58 15 41 56 +12 229 Signed thru 2014-15 (R)
BEUKEBOOM, Brock D/R 6-01 202 04-01-92 Niagara (OHL) 47 5 11 16 +22 49 Rights owned by STL
ERONEN, Teemu D/L 5-11 180 11-22-90 Jokerit Helsinki (Fin) 46 9 18 27 + 1 12 Rights owned by STL
HAKANPÄÄ, Jani D/R 6-04 211 03-31-92 Blues Espoo (Fin) 41 5 7 12 + 6 30 Rights owned by STL
LEHTERA, Jori C/L 6-01 201 12-23-87 Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL) 25 10 16 26 +10 10 Signed thru 2013-14 (R)
MACAULAY, Stephen LW/L 6-01 185 04-20-92 Saint John (QMJHL) 60 15 20 35 +14 56 Rights owned by STL
NILL, Trevor C/R 6-03 180 04-11-89 Michigan State (CCHA) 39 2 4 6 - 2 4 Rights owned by STL
SCHWARTZ, Jaden LW/L 5-10 180 06-25-92 St. Louis (NHL) 7 2 1 3 + 1 0 Signed thru 2013-14 (R)
Colorado College (WCHA) 30 15 26 41 + 6 18
TARASENKO, Vladimir RW/L 5-11 210 12-13-91 Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL) 39 18 20 38 +12 15 Rights owned by STL
SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 15 5 4 9 + 6 0
TOTALS... 54 23 24 47 +18 15
WÄNNSTRÖM, Sebastian RW/R 6-00 187 03-03-91 Brynäs Gavle (Swe) 43 8 7 15 - 5 20 Signed thru 2014-15 (R)
Player Ps/C Hgt Wgt DOB 2011-12 Club GP Min GA GAA Sv% SO Contract Status
KARPOWICH, Paul G/L 6-02 190 10-25-88 Clarkson (ECAC) 37 2291 94 2.46 .921 5 Signed thru 2013-14 (R)

Per beat writer Dave Eminian in the Peoria Journal Star online, a number of the players on our first list above will probably not be back next year:

Seven players who finished the season with Peoria, meanwhile, are now unrestricted free agents. Defensemen Brennan Evans, Shaun Heshka and Danny Syvret — the latter two arguably the Rivermen’s best defenders in the final month of the season — are among them.
The Blues do not expect Syvret to return here, and word this week is Heshka has a deal in place to play in Europe next season.
Forwards Chris Bruton, Jonathan Cheechoo, Derek Nesbitt and Patrick O'Sullivan (NOTE: O'Sullivan and Brett Sterling were essentially traded for one another in March, when Sterling was loaned to Phoenix and the Coyotes sent O'Sullivan back on loan) are all unrestricted free agents as well. O’Sullivan may head to Europe, too.

Cheechoo and Sterling would have to be re-signed by the Blues in order to return to Peoria next year, and while that is a possibility, one would think that the two veterans would at least consider offers from other organizations if those offers included a shot at regular NHL playing time.

As for the players on the second list, it's not likely that Tarasenko will ever see the inside of Carver Arena; if he comes over this summer, he will almost certainly slot into the Blues' top nine forwards right away. The other Europeans are also 50/50 at best to cross the pond, so the most likely new Rivermen next year will be the North American players on the second list.

Here, then, is our best guess as to what the Rivermen lineup for 2012-13 will look like on Opening Day:

LW C RW
Della Rovere Cracknell Barriball
Macaulay Hensick Beach
(Nesbitt) McRae (Cheechoo)
Schwartz Nigro Peluso
Nill Shattock
Sonne
LD G RD
(Evans) Allen Beukeboom
Fairchild Karpowich Cundari
Ponich Shields
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