Blues 2009-10 NCAA prospects update

By HF Staff

The St. Louis Blues have nine prospects playing in the NCAA: five forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender.

Forwards

Jay Barriball, LW – University of Minnesota
Acquired: Trade with San Jose in 2007
5-27-1987, 5’9, 170 pounds

Senior Jay Barriball came out of the gates firing for the University of Minnesota, notching a pair of goals and two assists in the team’s first five games. However, he sustained a knee injury in a collision with a teammate in an early November practice and surgery estimates had him shelved for at least four months. Barriball could potentially receive a medical redshirt and be given a second chance at his senior season because he will have played less than one-third of the Golden Gophers games this year.

Barriball burst onto the scene with nearly a point per game as a freshman, but slumped in his sophomore year. He was again very productive as a junior with 34 points in as many games. Many are left to wonder what might have been for the Prior Lake, Minnesota native, but perhaps 2010-11 will see Barriball don the maroon and gold again.

Andy Sackrison, C – Minnesota State-Mankato
Acquired: 5th round, 124th overall, 2006
11-12-1987, 6’1, 200 pounds

Junior Andy Sackrison suffered a broken leg nearly more than two months ago, but is expected to return February 12th at the Wisconsin Badgers. The talented forward had totaled a pair of goals and assists in the 11 games prior to his injury sustained November 20th in a road game against Alaska-Anchorage. He was said to be skating well and meshing well with his linemates and in his own game, but his numbers have yet to speak much about his talent level during his Maverick career.

Sackrison has soft hands and adept ability to work the puck in traffic, and in the right situation his game could certainly flourish. While his defensive game needs work, he is a solid skater who could develop into an NHL-caliber forward some day.

Trevor Nill, C – Michigan State
Acquired: 7th round, 190 overall, 2007
4-11-1989, 6’3, 195 pounds

The hard-working center has upped his offensive play by leaps and bounds this season after a freshman year that saw him record only three points (one goal, two assists) in 34 games.  Skating on the Spartans’ fourth line, or the maroon line as they prefer to be called, he and his linemates combined for nine goals and 10 assists in the three weeks after they were put together. Nill, along with sophomore Brett Perlini and sophomore Dean Chelios (son of Chris Chelios) have selected the ‘maroon’ moniker because of the jerseys the wear in practice. Nill has NHL blood too, as his father played 10 years with the Blues, Bruins, Red Wings, Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets, and is currently an assistant General Manager for those same Detroit Red Wings.

Nill has eight points (two goals) through 19 games this season, but it is important to note that he was scoreless before being teamed up with Chelios and Perlini. Michigan State head coach Rick Comley said Nill has “taken a step” as a member of the new line and it’s clear that this group will only make each other better. Nill looks to be a high-energy scrapper whose drive and determination will ensure he is always noticed when he steps on the ice.

Matthew McCollem, LW – Harvard University
Acquired: 6th round, 154th overall, 2006
5-6-1988, 6’1, 205 pounds

McCollem missed the first 12 games of the season for the Crimson, and the team struggled to a 1-8-3 start. He is a strong defensive forward known more for his leadership and two-way ability than his scoring, but has a goal and assist after six games this season. More important than his direct contribution on the scoresheet is his team’s .500 record since his return.

He has battled a litany of injuries throughout his Harvard career, and his early-season absence was a result of his recovery from offseason surgeries. Coach Ted Donato predicted a breakthrough season in 2009-10 for McCollem, and there is still time for the junior to get his legs under him and be productive. He will need to work his way into more ice time, as he’s still spending plenty of time on the fourth line.

Travis Erstad, C – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Acquired: 4th round, 100th overall, 2007
11-9-1988, 6’4, 210 pounds

The gritty, physical Travis Erstad leads the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in penalty minutes, while also contributing a bit on the scoresheet. The sophomore has four goals and eight assists in 12 games for the Pointers, with two of those goals coming on the power play. While he’ll never be confused with a great playmaker, Erstad has the potential to be a complimentary player. But he is still at the Division III level.

Defensemen

Ian Cole, D – Notre Dame
Acquired: 1st round, 18th overall, 2007
2-21-1989, 6’1, 220 pounds

Cole is highly talented, but is facing a medical crisis right now, out with his second concussion of the year. The first was suffered in early December, the result of a hit from behind. He came back the first of January, after passing his baseline psychological tests, joking to Hockey’s Future that he actually did better on them since he was not distracted by guys being in the room. Two weekends ago he suffered another concussion due to a hit. The most concerning part of this is that he told Hockey’s Future that he had "a couple of concussions" prior to this year. The medical community knows that people become more susceptible to them, the more they have.

Cole, now a junior with the Irish, continues to improve his all-around game. He is very defensively sound and is a smooth, agile skater. Cole has maintained solid offensive numbers throughout his collegiate career, and has continued this season with 15 points in 24 games thus far. He should find his way to the NHL soon and he will be a viable member of the Blues defensive corps for years to come.

Cole was a first team all-CCHA selection and first team West AHCA/Reebok All-American last season and will be in the running for both awards this year if he can make it back soon. Cole considered leaving school last summer, making it more likely that he will turn pro in 2010-11.

Cade Fairchild, D – University of Minnesota
Acquired: 4th round, 96th overall, 2007
1-15-1989, 5’11, 186 pounds

In contrast to Cole, Cade Fairchild boasts an offensive game that is light years ahead of his defense. He averaged nearly a point per game as a sophomore last season, notching nine goals and 24 assists in 35 games. Fairchild hasn’t been terrible, with 13 points in 24 games this season, but more was expected after last year’s productivity.

His size will certainly come into question as he looks to make the jump to professional hockey after he graduates. Standing just under six feet, Fairchild will need to use his speed and agility against bigger, stronger opponents if he is to succeed. More than likely, he’ll find himself topping out in the AHL, but he could be very statistically productive in the right situation.

David Warsofsky, D – Boston University
Acquired: 4th round, 95th overall, 2008
5-30-1990, 5’9, 170 pounds

After winning a national championship with Boston University last season, Warsofky came into his sophomore season as a member of the All-College Hockey News Preseason Second Team. He has six goals and seven assists in 20 games thus far, and seems to be more willing to shoot the puck this year than in the past.

Like Fairchild, Warsofksy has trouble defending at times because of his size. His defense has been a liability at times, and he needs to get better at getting the puck out of the zone. He will need to improve his defensive ability with his stick and positioning to get to the next level, but even that may not be enough. His stature leaves him at a major disadvantage, so Warsofsky will have to significantly improve his finesse game and focus on fundamentals if he is to be successful as a pro.

Goaltenders

Paul Karpowich, G – Clarkson University
Acquired: 7th round, 185th overall, 2008
10-25-1988, 6’2, 195 pounds

Karpowich became the starting goaltender for the Clarkson Golden Knights as a freshman last year, and ended the season with a respectable 2.85 goals-against and a .907 save percentage. However, he has scuffled out of the gate this season, which has seen his workload decreased of late. His GAA is up to 3.74 and his save percentage is just .889, which could explain his 4-13-3 record in 2009-10.

Karpowich is fundamentally sound, but his game lacks consistency – which hurts him playing for a team that isn’t great defensively. He seems to get flustered easily and has some bad games as a result of it. Only so much of a goaltender’s statistics can be pinned directly on his team’s defensive effort, and with a goals against nearing four, he and his team can certainly be better.
                                                      
Robby Lewis, Rick Londberg and Holly Gunning contributed to this article.