Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Game Time" -- The System From Aaltonen to Zakharov, Part Five

(originally published November 12, 2006)

Since yesterday was Veteran's Day, it seems appropriate that tonight's report includes one of the oldest and longest-serving prospects in the Blues' system. In all, we have three AHL players and two junior forwards on tonight's menu. All personal data (height, weight, etc.) is taken from the Blues’ website, and all statistics are as of Friday, November 10.

Ryan Ramsay, C, shoots L, 5’11, 200, born 05-18-83. Signed as a free agent by the Blues in August of 2005 after a productive Ontario League junior career (283 points in 295 games over five seasons), Ramsay has developed into a top-notch grinder and sparkplug for the Blues in this, his third pro season. Last year, Ramsay set AHL career highs last year with 52 games played, 14 goals and 25 points, and also managed to tear up the ECHL for 17 games mid-season with Alaska (17 GP, 8-12-20, 30 PM). This season, the pride of Ajax, Ontario has a pair of goals in 11 games, to go with a minus-1 and 27 minutes in the sin bin.

Ryan Reaves, RW, shoots R, 6’02, 215, born 01-20-87. Like the veterans that we honored yesterday, and all year 'round, Ryan Reaves is a leader by example for the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), where he wears an "A" and boldly goes where few men are willing to go on the ice. Reaves caught fire in mid-October, with a stretch of three consecutive games from 10/14 through 10/20 in which he scored a pair of goals in each game. He hasn't found the back of the net since then, but he has continued to stand up for his mates and play a physical, power forward style. In 20 games for the Wheat Kings thus far, Reaves has put up six goals and 14 points, with a plus-7 and 36 PIM, 12 of which came in Brandon's opening game (a fight, a slashing minor, and a major for checking from behind).

Andrew Sackrison, C, shoots L, 6’01, 178, born 11-12-87. Drafted by the Blues with the 124th overall selection in last June's Entry Draft, the skilled, swift-skating Minnesota native adds significant scoring potential to the Blues' system. Skating for his hometown St. Louis Park HS club last year, Sackrison lit up goaltenders in his league to the tune of 41 goals in 25 games. He attended the Blues' Prospect Camp this past summer, and is currently playing for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL, where he's 1-6-7 with a minus-1 and seven PIM in ten games thus far. Sackrison will attend Minnesota State-Mankato, David Backes' alma mater, next season.

Marek Schwarz, G, catches R, 6’00, 180, born 04-01-86. Schwarz was the first member of the Blues' Recent First Round Picks Club, joining the organization with the 17th overall pick in 2004. His availability at that stage of the draft was something of a pleasant surprise for the Blues, and his presence in the organization was the kick-start needed to propel the system to a new level of prominence in the NHL. Born and raised in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, Schwarz has been a prominent player on Czech junior teams for the last several years. In 2005 he backstopped his home country to a bronze medal in the U-20 World Junior Championships held in Grand Forks, North Dakota. In 2004, Schwarz was the top goaltender in the U-18 tournament, and led the Czechs to a bronze medal; he also played for the U-20 team at that level's World Junior Championship in Finland. Though not yet 21 years old, Schwarz already has extensive experience in the Czech elite league, and brings his skills to Peoria this year, where he's currently 4-1-0 with a 2.81 GAA and 90.2% save percentage in six games played.

Peter Sejna, LW, shoots L, 5’11, 198, born 10-05-79. Sejna, from Liptovsky Mikulas in Slovakia, recently celebrated his 27th birthday and the start of his fifth season in the Blues' organization. His first game in the organization was, of course, the "Patrick Roy game" in April of 2003, where he scored a highlight-reel goal against the sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, and Sejna has been trying ever since to live up to the high expectations set by that single, shining moment. As he showed then, and has shown in his college and AHL career, Sejna has the instincts and hands of a natural goal-scorer. What he seems to be lacking is the will to pay the price to put those instincts and hands to work at the NHL level. Until he gets that fire lit in his belly, if he ever does, he'll be a first-line AHL player and little else. Currently, Sejna is 3-3-6 in 11 games for Peoria, with 6 PIM and a team-worst minus-7.

In our next installment, we'll be looking at some more Russians, as well as one of the top young players in Sweden and a pair of Americans. Until then, check out archived "Tomorrow's Blues" columns and other prospect-related content at, and remember... "If we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." Auf wiedersehen.

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