Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Game Time" -- The System: Spare Parts And Options

(originally posted November 30, 2006)

Like any good system or piece of machinery, the Blues' development system has spare parts that are kept on the shelf in case of dire need. These may be parts that are a little worn out or out-of-date, but still serviceable... or they may be parts that might not be designed exactly for the current system, but could possibly be modified to fit in. All personal data (height, weight, etc.) is taken from the NHL Guide and Record Book 2007, or from various team websites, and all statistics are as of Tuesday, November 28.

Joel Perrault, C, shoots R, 6'01, 197, born 04-06-83. Recently acquired by the Blues on waivers from Phoenix, Perrault is still finding his way in the Blues' organization. He's described as a player with a nose for the net, and as a good team player, but he needs to develop his strength and tenacity on the puck in order to really stick at the NHL level. As a center, he'd be a Godsend for Peoria right now, but the NHL's waiver rules make it a risk for him to be reassigned long-term to Peoria, as Phoenix would very likely reclaim him.

Perrault didn't exactly get off to a flying start in his Bluenote career, as he was torched for a minus-3 in the disastrous 4-2 home loss to Columbus on November 9. He's been scratched for the Blues' last three contests, prompting speculation that his time in the organization may be coming to an end anyway. He's scoreless with a minus-4 in seven games with the Blues, and was 1-1-2 with a minus-2 and 8 PIM in nine games with Phoenix. During a two-game conditioning assignment to Peoria in early November, he was 0-2-2 with a minus-2 and seven PIM.

Trent Whitfield, C, shoots L, 5’11, 204, born 06-17-77. You can't really call Whitfield a "journeyman," since the Blues are only the second NHL organization he's ever played for (Washington being the other). He's bounced between the NHL and AHL every year since 2000, always being a first-line offensive threat in the AHL but not quite able to translate that success into scoring-line duty in the NHL.

At 29 years old, Whitfield isn't exactly a prospect any longer, but he is the sort of very useful veteran that you can assign to your minor-league affiliate as a scorer and a leader, and also be able to count on for limited stretches as a callup. That's exactly the role that the Estevan, Saskatchewan native has filled with the Blues since being signed as a free agent in 2005, the same role that Jamie Rivers was signed in the past off-season to fill on the defensive side. Injuries on the blue line have kept Rivers in St. Louis instead of Peoria, where he was intended to go, and a shortage of centers has kept Whitfield down on the farm, where he's currently 10-10-20 with a minus-2 and 22 PIM in 19 games.

Perrault and Whitfield are under contract to the Blues, for now. There are, however, other players in Peoria who are under contract to the Rivermen and not the Blues, but who hope to catch the eye of Blues' pro scouts and earn a roster spot and contract with the big team. That's the route that Curtis Sanford and Mike Glumac took to become members of the Blues' organization; here's a quick look at three players who hope to follow in their footsteps.

Kevin Croxton, F, shoots R, 6’03, 200, born 09-08-82. Croxton is a big kid from Calgary, and comes to the AHL following a stellar four-year career at Rensselaer (ECAC), where he was nearly a point-per-game player (57-86-143 in 147 games played) and a team leader. 27 of his career 57 goals were power-play tallies, and he scored the game-winner in ten of the Engineers' 62 total wins during his NCAA career. With Camrose of the Alberta Junior League in 2001-02, Croxton put up 38-48-86 totals and 42 PIM in 62 games while leading the Kodiaks to the Royal Bank Cup, the Canadian Junior "A" championship. He was invited to play for the Blues' entry in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament earlier this year, and won a contract offer from Peoria based on his play there. He's spent most of this year in Alaska, where he's 7-2-9 with a plus-4 and two minutes in penalty time over 12 games.

Charles Linglet, LW, shoots L, 6’02, 212, born 06-22-1982. The Montreal native spent his first two pro seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05) toiling for Alaska in the ECHL, where he had very respectable 48-69-117 totals, with 105 PIM, in 134 games. His performance there earned him a look in Peoria last season, and he made the most of it with 14 goals and 21 points in 38 games for the Rivermen. Linglet has always been a scoring threat, going back to his days as a top gun in the offense-minded QMJHL (108-152-260 and 143 PIM in 253 games for Baie-Comeau over four seasons), and he currently sits in third place in the Peoria scoring race, with 8-4-12 totals in 17 games, to go along with six minutes in penalties, a plus-1 mark, three power-play goals and a game-winner in Grand Rapids on November 17th.

Ryan MacMurchy, RW, shoots R, 6’02, 207, born 04-27-83. Unlike the other players in tonight's report, MacMurchy was actually drafted by the Blues (284th overall in 2002), but failed to earn a contract offer after a solid four-year career with the University of Wisconsin (WCHA), where he was a big part of a national championship winner last season. MacMurchy, like Croxton, was invited to play for the Blues in Traverse City, and earned a contract offer from Peoria after his performance there. At Wisconsin, MacMurchy was a physical, inspirational leader who also was able to chip in the odd goal (44-66-110 with a whopping 342 PIM in 172 games over four seasons), but the Regina native is still finding his niche at the AHL level. He does have one goal in four games played thus far, a game-winner vs. Iowa on November 5.

In the next issue of "Game Time," we'll pay tribute to Brett Hull by focusing on a few prospects hoping in the near future to take a run at his lofty scoring totals in a Bluenote. 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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