Jake The Snake strikes !!! - - Derek Leung
...an occasional feature of "Game Time" Prospect Sunday, bringing today's fan the scoop on the Blues of tomorrow.
By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
Originally published in a different form in the print edition of "St. Louis Game Time," Vol. 8 Issue 2, Jan. 24, 2013
In this initial installment of "On The Radar," we begin a series of brief looks at each of the 39 players of "prospect age (25 years of age or younger)" in the Blues' organization, from the three premier prospects currently playing in the NHL -- Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and Ian Cole -- to the longshot prospects like Tyrel Seaman and Max Tardy.
In alphabetical order, here is the future of the St. Louis Blues. All statistics in this report are as of Feb. 23, 2013.
"Jake the Snake" is considered by most observers around the organization to be the heir apparent to the coveted title of "Goalie Of The Future" for the Blues. A second round selection (34th overall) by the Blues in the 2008 Entry Draft, Allen is following the long development arc that seems to be the standard for goaltenders.
A native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Allen made his mark at the best possible time -- the U18 World Championships, which are always held just a few weeks prior to the Entry Draft. Based on his major junior numbers at the time in the QMJHL, Allen was a surprise selection for Canada's U18 team in the 2008 tournament, but rose to the occasion with a brilliant performance. He played every minute of the tournament for Canada, and in seven games allowed just ten goals on 192 shots against for a 1.43 GAA and a 94.8 save percentage.
Allen posted two shutouts in the tournament, capping it off with an 8-0 whitewashing of Russia in the gold medal game, and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and Top Goaltender. Nine weeks later, Allen heard his name called by Jarmo Kekalainen with the next pick after the Blues selected Philip McRae, who scored three goals and six points for bronze medalist Team USA in the same tournament.
Allen finished his QMJHL career with Victoriaville in the 2009-10 season, posting a 2.20 GAA and 92.2 save percentage with 29 wins (four shutouts) in 2512 minutes of playing time. The following season, Allen turned pro with the Rivermen and split playing time with Ben Bishop. As a rookie, Allen set Peoria AHL records in wins (24), shutouts (6), minutes played (2805) and saves (1306). He started for the Western Conference in the AHL All-Star Game, and finished the year with a 2.52 goals-against average and 91.7 save percentage.
As a second-year pro last season, Allen got off to a horrendous start (2-8-1, 3.74, 89.3% by New Year's), but rose to the occasion after the Blues dealt Bishop to Ottawa at the trade deadline. Allen finished the 2011-12 season 13-20-3 with one shutout, a 2.93 GAA and 91.5 save percentage.
He began this season in Peoria but was called up to the Blues in early February after starter Jaroslav Halak suffered and injury, and he responded to his first taste of NHL regular-season play by posting a 3-1-0 record, a 2.62 GAA, and an 89.5 save percentage in 275 minutes with the big club. In 32 games for the Rivermen, Allen has a 12-17-3 record with two shutouts (at Grand Rapids on Dec. 14 and at home vs. Chicago on Jan. 23), a 2.94 GAA and 90.4 save percentage.
Andronov was a 3rd round selection (78th overall) by the Blues in 2009, and is currently signed to an AHL contract with Peoria. He may be playing his way into a regular NHL deal, however, as he already has more goals (7) scored this season than he managed in his last two seasons playing fourth-line spot duty in the KHL.
The Penza native started in minor hockey with the Dizel Penza system before transferring to the Lada Togliatti system at age 16, and came up through the ranks in that organization. He played three games for Lada in the old Russian Superleague in 2006-07 at age 17, and split the next couple of seasons between Lada's second-tier team and the major-league club, cracking their roster for keeps in his draft season (2008-09).
Andronov skated for Russia in the 2009 World Juniors, tallying three goals and eight points in seven games with a plus-2 and two minutes in penalties. He is considered a player with good foot speed and technical skills, and one who is very skilled on the forecheck and backcheck, though not considered a superior finisher. He is versatile, with the ability to play all three forward positions, though the left-shooting Andronov is has most often been used as a right wing.
Through 44 games with Peoria, where he has been mostly a third-line player who has seen spot duty on the second line, Andronov has a 7-6-13 scoring line with an even plus-minus mark and 20 minutes in penalty time. Three of his seven goals have been game-winners for the Rivermen, who have just 23 total wins for the season so far.
A speedy, gritty winger with a strong work ethic, Barriball's career progression has been stymied by a serious injury in three of the last four seasons.
Originally drafted by San Jose in the seventh round (203rd overall) in 2006, Barriball came to the Blues' organization as part of a trade deadline deal for Bill Guerin in 2007. Barriball, Finnish winger Ville Nieminen, and New Jersey's first-round pick in 2007 (previously acquired by the Sharks) came to St. Louis in exchange for Guerin; the Blues later used that first round pick to draft David Perron at 26th overall.
Barriball played five seasons at the University of Minnesota, redshirting his senior year due to a knee injury suffered in practice in November 2009 which caused him to miss all but five games for the Golden Gophers that year. In his collegiate career, Barriball scored 130 points (51 G, 79 A) in 149 games for Minnesota while also racking up 130 penalty minutes. He led the Gophers in scoring as a freshman in 2006-07 with a 20-23-43 scoring line in 44 games, good for second among WCHA freshmen and fourth in the nation among freshmen that year.
The Prior Lake, Minnesota native turned pro at the tail end of the 2010-11 season, appearing in six games for Peoria (0 G, 1 A) after finishing second on the Gophers in scoring with a 12-16-28 line (plus-6, 18 PM) despite missing six of Minnesota's 36 total games due to injury. In his rookie pro year, 2011-12, Barriball got off to an impressive start, posting a 4-6-10 scoring line (plus-1, 8 PM) in 17 games before suffering a concussion on Dec. 2 in a 5-1 loss at Milwaukee. He sat out until a three-games-in-three-nights stretch on Dec. 30 and 31, and Jan. 1, and picked up three assists and six minutes in penalties in those three games before being shut down for the rest of the season.
This year, Barriball suffered another concussion in the season opener at Abbotsford, and was shut down until just after the first of the year. The Rivermen sent him about 40 miles east on I-74 to Bloomington on a conditioning assignment, where Barriball skated in four games over a week with the CHL club, scoring once (a power play goal vs. the Quad City Mallards) and adding an assist. The speedy winger has since returned to Peoria, where he is once again on the injury list and appears to be done for the year. In nine total AHL games so far this year, Barriball is scoreless with a minus-6 and a two-minute Holding penalty in the 8-4 blowout suffered at the hands of the Texas Stars on Jan, 19.
A big, rugged winger from western Canada, Beach is making an impact in more ways than one during his rookie pro season.
A native of Nanaimo, British Columbia (birthplace of NHL legend Cam Neely, on the east coast of Vancouver Island), Beach grew up in the mountains of Kelowna, BC and played his minor hockey with the Okanagan Rockets. He appeared in three games for the Calgary Hitmen in 2008-09 at age 16, and made Calgary's roster for keeps the following season. In that year, Beach posted a respectable 3-11-14 scoring line in 51 games, and the 157 minutes in penalty time he rang up served notice to the rough-and-tumble Western League that he was not a youngster to be trifled with.
The Hitmen went deep into the WHL playoffs in Beach's first season there, and in 19 postseason games the big winger scored a goal and added seven assists while ringing up 34 minutes in penalties and a solid plus-10 mark. He also scored a key goal for Calgary during the Memorial Cup tournament that season, and picked up 34 minutes in the sin bin during the three games of the tournament as well.
After being chosen in the fifth round (134th overall) by the Blues in the 2010 Entry Draft, Beach began to blossom as an all-around player. He posted a 5-10-15 scoring line in 17 games with the Hitmen before being moved east to the Moose Jaw (SK) Warriors in a mid-season "shake-the-team-up" trade. With the Warriors, Beach took on a larger role which included time on the first line and the power play unit, and he responded with six goals (two with the man advantage) and 34 points in 40 games for Moose Jaw. He also maintained his reputation as a willing and able fighter in the 'Dub, racking up 236 penalty minutes in 57 games between Calgary and Moose Jaw.
The Blues signed Beach to an entry-level contract this past off-season, and he has split time between Peoria and the Evansville IceMen of the ECHL. In 23 games with Evansville, Beach has a 2-7-9 scoring line with a minus-6 and 81 minutes in penalty time, while with the Rivermen he has put up a 2-5-7 scoring line with 56 penalty minutes in 20 games; he also leads Peoria in plus-minus with a solid plus-10 mark in the games he's played in a Rivermen sweater.