summer rosters all over hockey change, some dramatically and some
slightly. The hardest part for fans is
keeping the contracts straight. Who’s
staying? Who’s leaving?
Below is a
list of the Rivermen who are under contract for next season and those whose
contracts are expiring on June 30.
Under Contract=the player is signed by the St. Louis
Blues (or the Peoria Rivermen) for the 2012-13 season. While they played for
the Rivermen in 2011-12, they can also play in the NHL (if signed by the Blues)
or the ECHL during this upcoming season.
Restricted Free Agent=this player will need to sign a new
contract before the start of the 2012-13 season. The Blues have the option to
offer this player a qualifying offer to retain negotiating rights. If a
qualifying offer is not made by July 1, this player will become an unrestricted
Unrestricted Free Agent=this player is free to sign with any
team in any league for the 2012-13 season.
Allen - G
slow start to his sophomore season (4-10-0-1), Jake Allen returned to his
all-star form down the stretch. He
started 19 of the team’s last 21 games following Ben Bishop being traded to
Ottawa and posted a 2.53 goals-against average over that time. He finished the
year 13-20-0-2 with a 2.94 GAA and 0.915 save percentage. Through two years of
his entry-level contract, the Blues second round pick in 2008 will be a
restricted free agent following the 2012-13 season.
Bruton – RW
unrestricted free agent following the 2011-12 season, the Rivermen signed Chris
Bruton to a one-year, AHL contract for 2012-13 on May 21. He originally joined
the Rivermen on a tryout contract from ECHL Alaska and earned an AHL deal for
the final months of last season. He posted 66 penalty minutes – 9 fighting
majors – and five points in 38 games with Peoria.
Cole – D
starting the season with the Rivermen, injuries forced Cole into action at the
NHL level early on. He finished with 22 games played in Peoria and 26 for St.
Louis but spent the majority of the season with the parent club. He will be a restricted free agent following
the 2012-13 season.
Cracknell - C
Rivermen captain in 2011-12, he posted the best offensive numbers of his career
with 23 goals, 26 assists and 49 points.
With his contract set to expire on June 30, the St. Louis Blues chose
not to risk him in the free agent market and signed him to a one-year extension
in March. Not just an important
contributor on the offensive side, Cracknell was a plus-18 which was the best
mark among all Rivermen forwards.
Cundari – D
appeared in just 48 games in 2011-12 for Peoria but was still fourth on the
team in points by a defenseman (15). He will be a restricted free agent
following the 2012-13 season.
Della Rovere – LW
checking-line winger, Della Rovere cracked the 100+ penalty minute plateau
(116) for the second straight season. He
was a key cog in a Rivermen penalty killing unit that finished third best in
the AHL at 84.5 percent and also chipped in 10 points (four goals, six assists)
offensively. He will be a restricted free agent following the 2012-13 season.
Fairchild – D
fourth round pick in 2007 turned out to be one of the top defenseman in the AHL
this season. He was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team and to the Western
Conference All-Star Team. His plus-26
rating led the Rivermen and was fourth best in the league. A rookie from the University of Minnesota,
Fairchild earned five games on NHL experience this season.
Grachev - LW
in a trade from the New York Rangers last summer, Grachev began the 2011-12
season with the Blues. He recorded four
points (one goal, three assists) in 26 NHL games before joining the Rivermen in
December. The Russian-born winger turned
22 during the season and compiled 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 39
games with Peoria. He will be a
restricted free-agent at the completion of the 2012-13 season.
Hensick - C
One of the
most gifted AHL forwards to ever wear a Rivermen sweater, Hensick led the team
in points for the second straight year. His 70 points finished first in the
Western Conference and fourth overall in the American Hockey League. His 49 assists set a AHL Rivermen
single-season record were fifth most in the AHL. His two-year contract expires at the end of
the 2012-13 season.
McRae – C
his second professional season, Phil McRae was one of six Rivermen to reach the
20-goal plateau during the 2011-12 campaign. His 23 goals were nearly double
what he put up during his injury-shortened rookie year. The son of former Rivermen/Blues enforcer
Basil McRae, Phil will be a restricted free agent following the 2012-13 season.
Nesbitt – LW
Due to be
a UFA on July 1, the Rivermen rewarded Derek Nesbitt’s career season with a new
contract on May 18. He set AHL career-highs in games played (75), goal (22),
assists (33), points (55), and penalty minutes (14). Playing alongside T.J.
Hensick, Nesbitt also scored eight power-play goals.
Nigro – C
candidate for most-improved player, Anthony Nigro flourished in 2011-12. He was one of Peoria’s best faceoff men and
played in nearly every role. He improved
in every statistical category – most notable a minus-8 as a rookie was morphed
into a plus-12. He also recorded 10 more
points (15 vs. 25) in his second year than his first. He will be a restricted
free agent following the 2012-13 season.
Ponich – D
at 6-7, Ponich is the tallest defenseman in Rivermen history. He appeared in 61
games for the young defense corps and posted an even plus/minus rating.
Shattock – RW
putting up 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) as a rookie in 2010-11, Shattock
matched that total in 2011-12 (seven goals, eight assists). A defensively-responsible winger, he saw
increased ice time this season and reduced his penalty minutes from 60 to 20.
He will be a restricted free agent following the 2012-13 season.
Shields – D
to ECHL Alaska to start the season, Shields returned to Peoria and made an
impact. He earned increasing ice time over his 47 games with the club and
finished with four assists.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Barriball – RW
limited the rookie to just 21 games this season but Jay Barriball was effective
in his limited action. He had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and had
speed that makes opposing defensemen nervous. While he has only played one full
season of professional hockey he is a restricted free agent because he turns 25
in May. Barriball spent five seasons (including a medical red shirt year in
2009-10) at the University of Minnesota.
Peluso – RW
heavyweight, Anthony Peluso set a career-high with 159 penalty minutes while
also posting a career-best plus-2 rating. He collected 13 fighting majors
against other team’s toughest players. He has 34 AHL fights in three seasons
with the Rivermen.
Sonne – C
third-round pick by the Blues in 2007, Brett Sonne has seen his role change
since his 24 points as a rookie. A constant presence on the penalty-kill, Sonne
chipped in 17 points from a defensive-center position.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Cheechoo – RW
56 goals but Jonathan Cheechoo’s 56 points were enough to put him second
(behind only Hensick) on the Rivermen.
His 25 goals were the most on the team. His offensive production picked
up as the year went along and Cheechoo - who will turn 32 in July – showed no
signs of slowing down.
Evans – D
stay-at-home defenseman Brennan Evans finished the second and final year of his
deal with the Blues/Rivermen in 2011-12.
He ended the season with a plus-1 rating and logged a lot of ice time
against other team’s top forwards. The 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Evans also
accumulated 125 penalty minutes.
Gannon – D
Nov. 11, 2011, Jake Gannon missed nearly the entire season. Poised for his
first full season in the AHL, Gannon saw time in only 12 games before a
concussion kept him out the rest of the season.
Hagel – RW
a season where he led the AHL in fighting majors with 32, Kyle Hagel’s season
ended in October following a shoulder injury. He saw time in only seven games
and fought three times.
Heshka – D
pickup in November, Heshka joined the team from the Binghamton Senators in
exchange for future considerations. He proved to be a trustworthy defender who
added 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 60 games with the Rivermen. He was
also a plus-3 rating. Heshka signed a
contract for 2012-13 with Ässät in
Finland on April 26.
Polacek – RW
Hobey Baker finalist, Chase Polacek bounced back and forth between Peoria and
Alaska before his injury in December. He had a goal and an assist in 16 games
with the Rivermen and two goals in two games with the Aces.
Sterling – LW
in goals with 22 was loaned to Portland at the trade deadline in exchange for
Patrick O’Sullivan. Sterling finished the season with 30 goals, 32 assists and
104 penalty minutes between Peoria and Portland.
Syvret – D
Syvret finished ninth in the American Hockey League in points by a defenseman.
His 42 points were sixth on the Rivermen while he appeared in 75 games. He logged more ice time than any other
Rivermen while playing on both the power play and penalty kill.