an update on the progress of four of the top farmhands and amateur prospects. The
Blues haven’t had much history in developing amateur choices into top NHL
players, but the next few years look brighter as better drafting and control
over their AHL affiliate in Worcester should help turn home-grown players into
future Bernie Federkos and Brian Sutters.
Worcester rookie Jay McClement is coming on like gangbusters after a
slow start in the AHL. The 20-year-old McClement is now getting regular icetime
as the third line center, lots of work on the IceCats strong penalty-killing
unit (32 kills in 34 chances recently) and the odd shifts on the power play. He
scored an OT game-winner on Nov. 29 and assisted on the OT winner the night
has played in 21 games this season, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points.
He’s Worcester’s best rated player at plus-6 and is using his speed, size and
faceoff skill to have an impact on each game he plays. McClement is 20 years
old and has an outside chance to make the Blues next season as a penalty-killer
and fourth line centerman. He should be the Blues third line centerman in two
Blues hope they have the next “Russian Rocket” in the pipeline and Alexei
Shkotov just may be the one. The 19-year-old right wing made the jump from
Russia to Canadian junior hockey this season and so far the results are
overall has scored 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points in his first 21 games
in the QMJHL. Traded to Quebec early in the year, he’s averaged two points per
game for the Remparts (11-17-28 in 14 games) since being turned loose on
offense. Shkotov ranked third in the offensive player of the month voting for
November in the QMJHL. He’ll either play one more year of junior hockey next
year or move up to the AHL.
• Just as
impressive as Shkotov is fellow rookie import Konstantin Zakharov.
Drafted in the third round this year, Zakharov has also made the smooth
transition to North American hockey with 18 goals and 7 assists for 25 points
in 23 games for Moncton in the QMJHL.
were mixed on Zakharov’s NHL potential before the 2003 draft but the
18-year-old right wing is proving he could progress to the AHL in 2005. Zakharov
finished second in both the QMJHL’s November offensive player of the month and
rookie of the month voting behind Sidney Crosby. He’ll play for the Belarus WJC
U-20 tournament team this month.
other Blues QMJHL prospect off to a good start is centerman Alexandre Bolduc.
Out to prove that he’s NHL material, Bolduc’s on the right track with 12 goals
and 11 assists for 23 points in 27 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
18-year-old Bolduc has a plus-9 rating and 49 penalty minutes, displaying his
all-round skills as a good offensive and defensive forward. The Blues fourth round
pick in 2003 should be in juniors for two more seasons before turning pro.