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Previewing the Blues' 2009 Pro Orientation Camp

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Left wings left off of Blues' prospect list: The Blues have been among the top clubs in the NHL at drafting in the last few years, but one area in which they've come up a little short is in drafting left wingers.

The GTPD 2009-10 Blues Prospect Database contains just four "natural" left wings: Simon Hjalmarsson, Matthew McCollem, Chris Porter and Steve Regier. Of the four, Hjalmarsson is the only one who will be in attendance at the Pro Orientation Camp, as Porter and Regier are veteran pros, and McCollem is still in college out East (at Harvard).

Center Anthony Nigro is the only other Blues draftee listed as a LW who will be attending the Orientation Camp.

To compensate for this organizational deficiency, the Blues have invited several free agent LWs to the camp. Two that merit special attention are St. Louis native Jack Combs, late of the Saginaw Spirit (OHL), and Nick MacNeil, a Martimer from Al Macinnis' home province of Nova Scotia.


LW Jack Combs JACK COMBS

 

LW, shoots L

6-00, 201 pounds, born 01-26-88 in St. Louis, MO.

Season Club League GP G A Pts PIM PP SH GW +/-
2008-09 Saginaw OHL 62 32 43 75 102 10 4 5 + 9

LW Nick MacNeil NICK MacNEIL

 

LW, shoots L

6-04, 211 pounds, born 01-01-89 in Cregnish, Nova Scotia.

Season Club League GP G A Pts PIM PP SH GW +/-
2008-09 Cape Breton QMJHL 64 30 23 53 35 18 0 6 + 13

Both Combs and MacNeil are AHL-eligible this season (Combs is 21, and MacNeil is 20), and both are offensive-minded players with decent size. As a quick glance at their stats will tell you, both players seem to thrive on the power play, which is an area of Peoria's game last season that will certainly need improvement going into the 2009-10 season.

Both players also had solid playoff performances in 2009. Combs chipped in nine goals (3 PPG, 2 GWG) and 13 points for Saginaw in 8 OHL playoff games, and MacNeil was 5-3-8 in 11 games for the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Three of MacNeil's playoff tallies were also power-play markers, and he chipped in a game-winner as well. 

These are two players that your GTPD will certainly be keeping an eye on over the next few days, to see if one or both could be the answer to the Blues being able to bolster their organizational depth at LW.

Welcome To St. Louis... For The First Time: 2008 draftees Jake Allen (G, second round, 34th overall), David Warsofsky (D, fourth round, 95th overall) and Kristoffer Berglund (D, fifth round, 125th overall) will be attending their first-ever Blues Prospect Development Orientation Camps.

Allen's presence is of particular interest, as his strong showing in the 2008 U-18 World Juniors for gold medalist Canada catapulted him into the limelight, and into a place among the top up-and-coming goaltending prospects in the NHL. For a franchise that his been trying to grow a franchise goaltender ever since the current team president was a fifth-overall selection in 1973, Allen represents the Blues' best shot in decades at drafting and developing an elite goalie.

2009 draftees Brett Ponich (D, second round, 48th overall), Tyler Shattock (RW, fourth round, 108th overall), Dsvid Shields (D, sixth round, 168th overall) and Max Tardy (C, seventh round, 202nd overall) will also be making their St. Louis debuts at the Orientation Camp.

Ponich, a tall and lanky blueliner at 6' 7, 204 pounds, was drafted about 100 spots ahead of where "conventional" wisdom said he should go; Tardy, a small, speedy center from Duluth, was drafted at the specfic request of Minnesota scout Mike Antonovich (the same scout who "discovered" both T.J. Oshie and David Backes).

Band(its) On The Run: The three-time defending North American Hockey League champion St. Louis Bandits will be well represented at the Pro Orientation Camp this yeat. Goaltender Keith Kincaid (Farmingdale, NY) and defenseman Tyler Elbrecht (Edwardsville, IL) will be particpating in the camp, trying to catch the eye of Blues brass before moving on to Division I college programs in the fall. Kincaid will be attending Union College in New York, and competing in the ECAC, while Elbrecht will take his East Side attitude and 6' 5, 225 pound frame to Backes' alma mater of Minnesota State-Mankato (WCHA).