Blues AHL prospects update

By Gregory Maker

Goaltenders

Jason Bacashihua – With two aging goaltenders in St. Louis, the trade with Dallas that acquired Bacashihua for prospect Shawn Belle is already paying dividends. After spending last season with the Utah Grizzlies, Bacashihua is looking sharp for the Worcester IceCats alongside Curtis Sanford. The former first round pick (Dallas, 26th, 2001) has seen a great improvement in his numbers. Through 22 games this season, Bacashihua has equaled his win total from a year ago, currently 13-7-0. His GAA has dropped tremendously from 2.66 to 2.21 and his save percentage is .914.

Defense

Trevor Byrne – Time is running out for Byrne to prove his worth. The 24-year-old Dartmouth graduate has played 33 games in Worcester this season, and then was demoted to Peoria of the ECHL. In 33 games for the IceCats, Byrne has 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) and is -8, tied for worst on the team. He has played well in his 10 games in Peoria recording 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) and is +13 in 10 games. At 6’3 205, Byrne is a physical presence, but does not take a lot of penalty minutes, only 18 in his 33 games in Worcester.

Dennis Wideman – The 21-year-old has been a steal for St. Louis as a free agent out of the OHL. Originally drafted in the eighth round of the 2002 entry draft by Buffalo, Wideman is second on the IceCats in points, tops among defensemen. Wideman also leads all Worcester defensemen in goals (8), power play goals (4), and leads the team with 22 assists. His 30 points are tops among AHL rookie defensemen, and 22 assists are second for all rookies behind only Albany forward Zach Parise. The 5’11 197-pounder has been durable, playing in all of Worcester’s 52 games this season. The rookie is not afraid to shoot the puck from the point. He is third in the AHL among defensemen in shots with 140.

Mike Stuart – In his third year of pro hockey, Stuart has passed his career total in points (10), and assists (9) this season in 49 games. The 24-year-old Minnesota native has proven his worth defensively, currently at +7, tied for second on the team. Stuart played two games last season in St. Louis. He is a solid defenseman and could be a contender for a spot in St. Louis when operations resume.

Forwards

Jon DiSalvatore – The 6’1 185-pound, 23-year-old Connecticut native is another quality free agent for the Blues. He leads Worcester in goals with 15, and is tied for third on the team in points with 29. He has four game-winning goals this season and is second on the team in power play goals with six. DiSalvatore, a hard worker, will have to improve his defensive game currently tied for last on the team at -8.

Peter Sejna – Having played only 39 games, Sejna is a leader in points per game for the IceCats, but his production has only plateaued from last year, going .69 points per game to .67, and his .088 shooting percentage is low for a goal scorer. His +9 does lead the team. The 25-year-old Slovakian’s window of opportunity is growing smaller, and he’ll need to make a splash in St. Louis when NHL operations resume.

Jay McClement – McClement tied his career high of 25 points and has passed his career high in assists with 17 in 52 games this season. At 6’1 194 pounds, the second-year pro has proven to be a defensive asset to Worcester. He is a +3, and currently is tied for third in the league with 3 short-handed goals. With an aging offense, the soon to be 22-year-old McClement’s defensive ability could lead him to a spot in St. Louis when operations resume.

Alexei Shkotov – The 5’10 185-pounder is the top right wing prospect in the St. Louis system. A rookie out of the QMJHL, the 20-year-old Russian played 23 games in Worcester recording 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists), then returned to Russia to play for Voskresensk Khimik. Shkotov is not yet ready for the NHL and will have to adjust to North American hockey to be successful. He is very promising, but his size might work against him at the NHL level. He will have to rely on his incredible speed and hard work to crack the Blues line-up in the future.

Konstantin Zakharov – In 35 games this season, Zakharov has 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists). At 6’1 180 pounds, the 19-year-old Belarus native has good speed and balance, but needs to improve his defensive play. He is currently a –5, the low on the team is -8. Zakharov took time off from the AHL to play in the 2005 World Junior Championships for Team Belarus. In six games he recorded 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists), second on the team behind Andrei Kostitsyn.

D.J. King – At 6’3 230 pounds, King is an enforcer. The rookie leads the IceCats in penalty minutes with 136. He currently has 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists). He is a good defensive player currently at +3. At 20 years old, King’s future in the Blues organization will rely on his toughness and sticking up for his teammates.

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