The St. Louis Blues have a solid group of (potentially) NHL-ready players that will be playing for their AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen. The players in Peoria not only play for an AHL championship but also for a potential NHL call-up, because it is almost certain that there will be injuries for the Blues, and at some point some of these players will get some NHL action.
We will start in goal with Jake Allen. With Ben Bishop gone the Blues top goal-tending prospect will have the number one spot all to himself. It will be a big year for Allen to prove himself. If he puts up big numbers he could find himself in the NHL in the near future. He got to at least see the NHL bench in last year’s postseason but never faced a shot. If there is another injury to Halak or Elliott, Allen will be back this year.
Leading the Rivermen”s defense will be Cade Fairchild, who saw NHL action last year. If the Blues don’t add another defender he could make the Blues opening night roster as the spare seventh defenseman. His potential competition for the seventh spot is newly signed Jeff Woywitka. The former Blue has plenty of NHL experience but is not good enough to be an everyday player on a quality team. If he does not make it the the NHL this year he will probably be there next year because he is young and has a good amount of upside. Fairchild is fully developed but still plays a somewhat soft defensive game, and does not add a whole lot offensively. He will be a great AHL player if he is not called up .
The Blues have plenty of depth at the forward position. Assuming Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasnko make the NHL roster from camp that leaves the hardworking Chris Porter, who just renewed a two way contract, on the bubble. After seeing a bunch of NHL action last year it would be a shame for him to be back in the AHL this year, but that may be what’s best for the Blues. Evgeny Grachev also saw significant NHL time last year and could see more this year. Grachev is a big Russian who is young enough to make an NHL career for himself. Phil McRae is another highly touted prospect, but he has not shown enough for an NHL spot just yet. It will be a big year for the young center to try and prove himself. Adam Cracknell and T.J. Hensick are also quality AHL players who appeared to have a shot at being called up, but their window has most likely passed.