Defense highlight of St. Louis Blues CHL prospect pool

By HF Staff
Photo: Defenseman David Shields finished the 2010-11 season with a plus-29 in 61 games. (Photo courtesy of Holly Gunning/HF)

The St. Louis Blues have only five junior prospects playing in the CHL, three defensemen and two forwards. Brett Ponich and David Shields are both signed to entry-level deals.

QJMHL

Stephen MacAulay, C, St. John Sea Dogs
Acquired: 6th round, 164th overall, 2010


MacAulay showed offensive improvement in his third season with the St. John Sea Dogs. The 19-year-old scored 15 goals with 16 assists, a plus-14 rating and 36 penalty minutes (two fighting majors) in 59 QJMHL games. He also scored six goals with four assists, a plus-five rating and 25 penalty minutes (one fighting major) in 19 QJMHL playoff games. The centerman scored three dramatic game winning goals for his team during their President’s Cup winning run. The Sea Dogs are now heading to this year’s MasterCard Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Ontario starting May 20, 2011.

Macaulay plays on the team’s third line but has killed penalties for the Sea Dogs all year. The 6’2 187-pounder plays a physical, solid defense first style but has proved to be a hard working character player all season and throughout the playoffs for St. John.

MacAulay needs to continue improving his offensive game, skating speed, playmaking ability as a center and must add muscle mass to his frame. The young forward will benefit from another year in the QJMHL while showing the Blues that he can continue to improve before they will offer him an entry-level contract.


OHL

Brock Beukeboom, D Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Acquired by: Trade with Tampa Bay, February 18, 2011

Beukeboom was made the Greyhounds’ captain in his third season with Sault Ste. Marie but was unable to improve on his numbers of the previous season. The 19-year-old physical defenseman suffered a season ending concussion on February 4, 2011 during a game against the Erie Otters. He scored only one goal with seven assists, a minus-11 and 54 penalty minutes (four fighting majors) in 44 OHL games. The 6’2 202-pounder plays physically aggressive with the body and can be a puck mover from the back-end who also has a really hard shot. The young defenseman has character, as well as showing good leadership skills both on and off the ice this season for the Greyhounds.

Beukeboom needs to continue working hard at improving his defensive positioning, ability to read the play and pivoting when skating backwards to show the Blues that they should sign him to an entry-level contract. The young defenseman will most likely return for another year in OHL for the coming season.


David Shields, D, Erie Otters
Acquired: 6th round, 168th overall, 2009

Shields ended his fourth season with the Erie Otters and has signed an entry-level contract on March 23, 2011 with the Blues. He also was signed to an amateur-tryout contract on April 13, 2011 with the AHL Peoria Rivermen for the playoffs but received no playing time. The 20-year-old scored six goals along with 21 assists, a plus-29 rating (best on the team) and 48 penalty minutes in 61 OHL games. The Otters made the playoffs but lost in a hard fought seven game series against the Windsor Spitfires. Shields scored one goal with four assists but had a minus-eight rating in the high scoring playoff series. The 6’3 213-pounder plays a stay-at-home physical defensive style but he has a deceptively hard shot from the blue line which could increase his offensive potential.

Shields need to continue improving his puck moving skills and his skating to be successful at the professional level. The big defenseman definitely has NHL size so he will probably start the coming season in the AHL with the Rivermen.

WHL

Cody Beach, RW, Moose Jaw Warriors
Acquired by: 5th round, 134th overall, 2010

Beach was traded by the Calgary Hitmen with Mackenzie Royer to the Moose Jaw Warriors for Danny Gayle, Nathan MacMaster, and Brandon Glover on November 16, 2010. The young forward had scored five goals with ten assists and 73 penalty minutes in 17 games with the Hitmen. The 18-year-old scored six goals along with 28 assists and 163 penalty minutes (18 fighting majors in total) in 40 WHL games in Moose Jaw.

Beach’s season ended on March 13, 2011 when he suffered a knee injury and was unable to play for the Warriors in their round one playoff series with the Kootenay Ice which Moose Jaw lost in six games.

The 6’6 188-pounder has good offensive skills, plays solid defense and will play the enforcer role. The big power forward needs to play with more discipline reduce his number of fights and stop taking bad penalties that are costly to his team.

Beach needs to continue improving his offensive skills, add more muscle mass to his thin frame, and improve his skating speed to show the Blues that he can truly be an NHL calibre power forward. The Blues will monitor the young forward’s progress next season before deciding whether to sign him to an entry-level contract.

Brett Ponich, D, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired by: 2nd round, 48th overall, 2009

Ponich ended his fourth season with the Winterhawks when he suffered a knee injury in a game against the Tri-City Americans on January 18, 2011 and would have to undergo surgery to his left knee to repair a torn ACL on February 3, 2011. The 20-year-old collected 12 assists with a plus-23 rating (second best on the team) and 60 penalty minutes (four fighting majors) in 45 WHL games. The big defenseman could only watch his Winterhawks go through three rounds before losing to the Kootenay Ice 4-1 in the WHL finals for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The 6’7 225-pound physical captain has become a premier shutdown defenseman at the WHL level and anchors the Portland defense while leading their penalty-killing unit. The NHL-sized defenseman needs to improve his skating, shot blocking, his outlet passing and stick skills.

Ponich will have to continue improving and working hard over the summer months on his defensive pivoting while skating backwards because his left plant knee has been weakened by the injury. He will probably be assigned to the AHL Rivermen to start the coming season so the defenseman can show the Blues that he can handle the speed and skill of the professional level. The Blues have already signed Ponich to an entry-level contract on March 31, 2010.

Article was written by David Thicke.