Blues fall 2007 junior prospects update

By Kyle McMahon

The Blues have just four prospects currently playing junior in North America, each in a different league. Each one was selected at the most recent edition of the NHL Entry Draft.

Anthony Peluso, RW
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL

Bruising winger Anthony Peluso’s season has seen the winds of change blowing about. First off, he has been converted to a right winger after previously playing defense. This comes as no surprise, as the Blues announced when they drafted him that they would be moving him up front. It was felt that the 6’3, 202-pound Peluso, not known as a fast or agile skater, would be better suited to grinding it out in the offensive zone than trying to defend speedy forwards at the professional level. 

Less predictable was the Nov. 21 trade that sent Pelsuo from the Erie Otters to the Soo Greyhounds. Dave Torrie, Greyhounds general manager, mentioned Peluso’s toughness and physical play as motive for acquiring him.

In 21 games with Erie, Peluso had scored three goals and added three helpers, which was easily on pace to surpass his previous career-best of 10 points, recorded in 2006-07. He had compiled 41 penalty minutes, which included a pair of fighting majors. Peluso was also ejected from a Nov. 3 game against Plymouth for a slew-foot. In the Otters’ second game of the season, Pelsuo struck for a pair of power-play goals, including the winner, during a 6-4 defeat of Plymouth. The Blues’ ninth-round pick was also a minus-12, but that’s hardly surprising considering his club’s occupancy of the OHL basement.

Since joining his new team, Peluso has been fairly quiet on the stat sheet. In four games, he has not yet recorded any points or penalty minutes. Players often go through an adjustment period when they join a new team, so Peluso shouldn’t expect to be any different. Moving from last-place Erie to first-place Sault. Ste. Marie could provide a better developmental opportunity for the prospect.

Brett Sonne, C
Calgary Hitmen, WHL

Calgary Hitmen forward Brett Sonne, drafted by the Blues in the third round last summer, was off to an excellent start in his third WHL campaign. But a broken ankle suffered in early November has put him on the shelf indefinitely.

Sonne had been primarily a role-playing forward during his junior career, though his scoring touch was evident in the form of 21 goals in 2006-07. But, as junior players often find, becoming a more experienced veteran yields better results. Sonne had banged in six goals and notched 10 assists in 18 games before the injury bug struck. He had enjoyed four multi-point nights, including an early season game against Kootenay where he was a special teams demon, scoring one goal on the power play, and another while short-handed. Two of his tallies were game-winning goals. His strong play had helped Calgary to become one of the league’s top teams. Since his injury, the Hitmen have remained strong, but have suffered losses more frequently.

Despite his offensive prowess, Sonne had remained a vigilant two-way player. He was only recorded as being a minus player in one game all season, sporting a plus-9 rating overall. He has spent eight minutes in the penalty box thus far, well below last season’s pace when he recorded 65 PIM in 71 games.

The Hitmen and the Blues hope Sonne can get back on the ice and regain his form as soon as possible, but an ankle injury is something that it would be unwise to rush.

Trevor Nill, C
Penticton Vees, BCHL

Trevor Nill’s somewhat unorthodox path has taken him from Detroit Compuware, of the Michigan junior circuit, to the Junior A Penticton Vees of the BCHL.

Nill has played 26 games with the Vees thus far, with three goals and four assists to show for his efforts. He is a hard-working player, not overly physical, but capable of playing tough down low. The 18-year-old center has been a gritty role player on a strong Penticton squad this season.  

The biggest news of the season regarding Nill was his signing of a letter of intent to play NCAA hockey with Michigan State for 2008-09. This should be a perfect fit for Nill, a Michigan native whose father Jim is the Detroit Red Wings’ assistant general manager.

Travis Erstad, C
Lincoln Stars, USHL

Big centerman Travis Erstad is in his first full USHL season; he played a handful of games with Lincoln at the end of the 2006-07 campaign.

So far, the results for Erstad have been reasonably good. He is scoring at a decent clip, tallying five goals and 11 points through 20 games. That places him sixth in scoring on the Stars’ roster. He has done a good portion of his scoring while on the power play, striking for five points with the man advantage. Erstad has had the tendency to strike in bunches, scoring a hat trick in a 5-4 win over Cedar Rapids in October, including the winning goal late in the third period. He also registered three assists in a 6-3 victory over Sioux Falls a couple of weeks later.

Erstad showed his aggressive side in one game this season, dropping the gloves with Sioux Falls’ Sam Zabkowicz. He has totaled 19 penalty minutes for the season. Erstad has been prone to getting caught out on the ice for goals against, as his minus-11 rating sticks out as the lowest on the team at the moment, but this is not uncommon for a rookie who must adjust to a higher level of hockey.

Erstad, who hails from Wisconsin, will suit up for the NCAA’s Wisconsin Badgers next season.