By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
SOME CHANGES THIS WEEK:
Since the site itself is about to undergo some changes, I thought I'd jump the gun a little and introduce a new header this week. Let me know what you think...
A PROSPECT-WATCHER'S DREAM COME TRUE:
For the first time in a couple of years, the Rivermen will almost certainly have not one, but two drafted Europeans on the Opening Day roster... and might just have one more, and a very high-profile one at that.
As reported in this space last week, Russian Sergei Andronov (
As reported on Thursday by Norm Sanders in the Belleville News-Democrat, the Blues are keeping their options open for Tarasenko's North American pro debut:
"We're hoping that the NHL and NHLPA gets something settled by Sept. 15 and this is a non-issue," Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said Thursday when asked about the possibility of top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko returning to play in the Russian pro league in case of a lockout.
Another choice for Tarasenko is remaining in North America to play for the Blues' top farm team in Peoria. Would it bother Armstrong to see Tarasenko return to play in Russia?
"No, not really," Armstrong said. "We're hoping that it doesn't happen, but this would be the fourth one of these work stoppages I've been through.
"You support the players because ultimately this is an NHL-NHLPA big issue, not a team-by-team or player-by-player issue."
Armstrong wants all the players on his roster ready to go whenever the season starts. Plenty of questions remain as to who would be playing where, but some players like Tarasenko and fellow prospects Ian Cole, Philip McRae and Jaden Schwartz do have the option of playing at Peoria.
"Whether (Tarasenko) continues to train or play in the KHL or does it in the American Hockey League, as long as he's ready to play when the puck drops..." Armstrong said.
|Sergei ANDRONOV||Evgeny GRACHEV||Vladimir TARASENKO|
One issue with this potential line would be that none of these players is a natural center, but Grachev in particular has the size and the skillset to be moved into the middle to set up Tarasenko. Andronov, meanwhile, is a defensively-responsible forward who works hard in the corners, and has some offensive upside as well.
SOME NEW FACES IN PEORIA'S CAMP:
The Rivermen are already seeing some benefits from their new affiliation with the Evansville IceMen. The new ECHL club will be sending a forward (Tyler Shelast, a 6' 1, 202-pound RW from Kelowna, BC who played 37 games with four different clubs in the ECHL last year) and a defenseman (Jesse Perrin, a 6' 1, 200-pound left defenseman who put up three goals and 14 points with the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL last year) to Peoria's training camp when it opens later this month.
Also, per Dave Eminian at the Peoria Journal Star, former Blues' draft pick Trevor Nill will also be receiving an invite to the Rivs' training camp. These newly-announced players bring Peoria's potential Training Camp roster to 33 players, as follows:
("+" - Players on AHL contracts; "○" - Players on ECHL contracts/free agents; "◊" - Players older than "prospect age" of 25 years)
LEFT WING: Stefan Della Rovere, Evgeny Grachev, Derek Nesbitt +, Chris Porter ◊, Jaden Schwartz.
CENTER: Jay Barriball, T.J. Hensick ◊, Philip McRae, Andrew Murray ◊, Anthony Nigro, Trevor Nill ○, Brett Sonne.
RIGHT WING: Sergei Andronov +, Cody Beach, Chris Bruton +, Adam Cracknell, Anthony Peluso, Tyler Shattock, Tyler Shelast ○, Vladimir Tarasenko, Sebastian Wännström.
LEFT DEFENSE: Taylor Chorney ◊, Ian Cole, Mark Cundari, Cade Fairchild, Jesse Perrin ○, Brett Ponich, Jeff Woywitka ◊.
RIGHT DEFENSE: Scott Ford ◊, David Shields.
GOALTENDER: Jake Allen, Paul Karpowich, Mike McKenna ◊.
PROSPECT POLLING CONTINUES:
The first Swedish prospect to crack the Top 20 this year is winger Sebastian Wännström, who took the majority of fan votes this week for the 17th spot in the Blues' prospect rankings.
Vote for the 18th prospect in the Blues' system in the poll below.
ST. LOUIS BLUES TOP 20 PROSPECTS (1 THRU 17):
|RW, shoots L. 5' 11, 210 lbs. Born 12-31-91, Novosibirsk, RUS.||STL 2nd pick (16th overall) in 2010 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Sibir/SKA (KHL)||54 GP, 23-24-47, plus-18, 15 PM, 7 PPG, 0 SHG, 6 GWG. 0.870 Pts/Gm.|
|LW, shoots L. 5' 10, 180 lbs. Born 06-25-92, Melfort, SK.||STL 1st pick (14th overall) in 2010 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Colorado College (WCHA)||30 GP, 15-26-41, plus-6, 18 PM, 5 PPG, 0 SHG, 4 GWG. 1.367 Pts/Gm.|
|RW, shoots R. 5' 11, 170 lbs. Born 02-05-93, Airdrie, AB.||STL 1st pick (32nd overall) in 2011 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Portland (WHL)||69 GP, 57-64-121, plus-23, 54 PM, 26 PPG, 4 SHG, 9 GWG. 1.754 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 6' 01, 225 lbs. Born 02-21-89, Ann Arbor, MI.||STL 2nd pick (18th overall) in 2007 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||St. Louis (NHL)||26 GP, 1-5-6, plus-7, 22 PM, 0 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG. 0.231 Pts/Gm.|
|G, catches L. 6' 02, 195 lbs. Born 08-07-90, Fredericton, NB.||STL 3rd pick (34th overall) in 2008 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Peoria (AHL)||37 GP, 2088 Mins, 99 GA, 1203 SA, 2.84 GAA, 13-19-2, 1 SO, 0.918 Sv %.|
|C, shoots L. 6' 02, 200 lbs. Born 03-15-90, Apple Valley, MN.||STL 2nd pick (33rd overall) in 2008 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Peoria (AHL)||71 GP, 23-16-39, minus-10, 26 PM, 7 PPG, 0 SHG, 2 GWG. 0.549 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 5' 11, 190 lbs. Born 01-15-89, Duluth, MN.||STL 7th pick (96th overall) in 2007 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Peoria (AHL)||68 GP, 8-26-34, plus-26, 32 PM, 2 PPG, 0 SHG, 3 GWG. 0.500 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots R. 6' 02, 189 lbs. Born 10-08-93, Verona, WI.||STL 1st pick (25th overall) in 2008 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Sioux City/Green Bay (USHL)||55 GP, 10-31-41, plus-11, 29 PM, 5 PPG, 1 SHG, 2 GWG. 0.745 Pts/Gm.|
|C, shoots L. 6' 00, 189 lbs. Born 01-11-90, Toronto, ON.||STL 9th pick (155th overall) in 2008 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Peoria (AHL)||75 GP, 13-12-25, plus-12, 36 PM, 2 PPG, 1 SHG, 1 GWG. 0.333 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 6' 07, 225 lbs. Born 02-21-91, Edmonton, AB.||STL 2nd pick (48th overall) in 2009 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Peoria (AHL)||61 GP, 0-5-5, even, 47 PM, 0 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG. 0.082 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 6' 4, 211 lbs. Born 03-31-92, Kirkkonummi, FIN.||STL 5th pick (104th overall) in 2010 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Blues Espoo (FIN)||41 GP, 5-7-12, plus-6, 30 PM, 1 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG. 0.293 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 6' 02, 187 lbs. Born 04-11-94, Edmonton, AB.||STL 5th pick (106th overall) in 2012 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Everett (WHL)||62 GP, 6-12-18, minus-27, 95 PM, 3 PPG, 0 SHG, 1 GWG. 0.290 Pts/Gm.|
|RW, shoots R. 6' 05, 190 lbs. Born 08-08-92, Nanaimo, BC.||STL 6th pick (134th overall) in 2010 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Moose Jaw (WHL)||58 GP, 15-41-56, plus-12, 229 PM, 7 PPG, 0 SHG, 2 GWG. 0.966 Pts/Gm.|
|D, shoots L. 6' 04, 191 lbs. Born 06-28-93, Brandon, MB.||STL 2nd pick (46th overall) in 2011 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Moose Jaw (WHL)||56 GP, 4-19-23, plus-13, 91 PM, 0 PPG, 0 SHG, 2 GWG. 0.411 Pts/Gm.|
|C, shoots L. 5' 11, 160 lbs. Born 05-21-93, Saint John, NB.||STL 6th pick (162nd overall) in 2011 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Saint John (QMJHL)||36 GP, 13-27-40, plus-23, 54 PM, 2 PPG, 3 SHG, 3 GWG. 1.111 Pts/Gm.|
|LW, shoots L. 6' 2, 190 lbs. Born 02-22-93, Ste-Hipolytte, PQ.||STL 4th pick (102nd overall) in 2011 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Shawinigan (QMJHL)||59 GP, 27-31-58, plus-21, 69 PM, 11 PPG, 0 SHG, 6 GWG. 0.983 Pts/Gm.|
|RW, shoots R. 6' 0, 187 lbs. Born 03-03-91, Gävle, SWE.||STL 3rd pick (44th overall) in 2010 Entry Draft.|
|2011-12||Brynäs Gävle (SEL)||43 GP, 8-7-15, minus-5, 20 PM, 0 PPG, 0 SHG, 4 GWG. 0.349 Pts/Gm.|