I’ve been gone for far to long and I’m back here to help contribute for BNZ. I am over at St. Louis Game Time. I am working a few player profiles over there at the moment and I’ll link them once they are finished.
ANYWAY, What I am here to right about……Peoria needs some help!
Can we expect any more free agent signings? My answer would be yes, but it will not be anything in St. Louis. Peoria needs some depth after seeing Justin Fletcher, Barry Tallackson, Jonas Junland, and Pascal Pelletier all inked contracts over seas. Leaving some pretty big holes on the Rivermen roster.
Having signing Matt D’Agostini and TJ Hensick, we can likely expect to see one of these two in Peoria unless they both have dominant training camps. Which will add some high power American League scoring. Adding rookies such as Philip McRae, Tyler Shattock, and Anthony Nigro the Blues will be adding size and scoring to their top affiliate team through rookies.
Though this being said, veterans are very much needed. We will see veteran forwards Nicholas Drazenovic and Chris Porter, who are my two top candidates for captain of the Rivermen. Not to mention forwards Cam Paddock, Ryan Reaves and Adam Cracknell returning as well. Who Peoria adds on AHL/ECHL deals or the Blues add via NHL/AHL deals, the offense could shape out in many different ways. Seeing Brett Sonne in a second year, hoping that one of D’Agostini/Hensick can dominate at the AHL level, we could see a very strong scoring team with a lot of toughness as well.
On the defense, we’ll see Daryl Boyle and Bryce Lampman most likely make the return as the only veterans returning.
Ian Cole will most likely will return to Peoria (unless he impresses at camp) and will be a big part of the Rivs defensive unit. Rookie Mark Cundari will be joining the ranks in Peoria and I wouldn’t be to surprised to see TJ Fast and Ryan Turek jump from Alaska to join the ranks in Peoria. The newest addition brings some NHL experience from Nathan Oystrick. I expect to see Oystrick in Peoria and Strachan in the role of the 7th defensemen in St. Louis. But the Blues could go opposite and stick Strachan back in Peoria as a top pairing defender and have Oystrick riding the pine in the Lou.
Add in defensemen and tough guy Brennan Evans on the blueline in Peoria and you round out a solid defensive core. Veterans in Boyle, Lampman, Evans, Oystrick/Strachan leaves me to question the roles of Ian Cole and Mark Cundari. Mex guess, they’ll be leading the Rivermen’s powerplay. We could see Russian Nikita Nikitin in Peoria as well which could add a big body to help stabilize the power play.
Both Ian Cole and Mark Cundari play the same type of game. The ability to play the two way game of ranking up some points and shutting down the opponents. Not to mention both players can deck you if you’re coming down the rink the wrong way, the Rivermen blue line is going to be fun to watch.
The goaltending is pretty straight forward. St. Louis let Joe Fallon, acquired from Chicagolast season, go by not tendering him a contract last season. Peoria is going to work with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen this season. Who will start and who will back up? That’ll likely be whoever has the hot hand.
Now I don’t expect all of this to be right because the Blues could trade one or two of these players, or they could prove their worth in camp and force the Blues to keep them (ala Steve Wagner….wow that went down hill didn’t it?)
Here are my top call ups on the season;
Forwards : Nicholas Drazenovic, TJ Hensick/Matt D’Agostini/Chris Porter
Defense : Ian Cole, Nikita Nikitin/Tyson Strachan, Mark Cundari
Goaltending : Ben Bishop
Do you agree? Let me know!