Announced two weeks ago, the Peoria Rivermen signed the St. Louis #78 draft pick of 2009, Sergei Andronov, to a one-year AHL contract. What’s surprising about this late summer grab is that Andronov seemingly had no interest in North American hockey, and never quite was able to erase question marks about his skill set to make the jump across the pond. Yet suddenly, he finds himself in a one-year show-and-tell of sorts with very little promise of playing in the bigs in the immediate future. So the Rivermen of Peoria get a solid player, but the signing doesn’t appear to be a depth chart move by the parent club in St. Louis. So what does he bring to the table in terms of American League potential?
Peoria, now playing in the Midwest Division if the Western Conference has always been a thorn in the side of the Oklahoma City Barons. Perhaps their defensive styles, and no-wiggle-room ways are too similar. Or maybe the divisional separation lends itself to unfamiliarity. Either way, in short doses, a rivalry has brewed between the two teams that quite frankly, not many saw coming. And again, the teams will only meet twice during the upcoming season (Early December and late March), but prepare yourself for two healthy battles.
And thus it’s always important to discover the unfamiliar opponents, because they seem to jump on you the quickest and sometimes the dirtiest.
Here is what the world is saying about Andronov.
A year ago, Blue Note Zone and KHL writer Allesandro Rosso , had this to say of the “prospect”:
Andronov is having a very good season as well, he’s growing, but I somewhat doubt he’ll ever cross the pond. He never looked much interested, and also in America I don’t think there is a huge excitation about him. He can be compared – not as a player, but as a “situation” – to Nikolai Lemtyugov. A good player with a high skill level, without that extra “something” to make it through the NHL
The scary part about Andronov specifically is also what most consider his downside — the unknown. From the brief videos I’ve seen he’s a smallish (despite being listed at 6′ 2″) player with good hands, and pretty accurate shot. The skating is there. The movement is there. And I have no reason to believe that Andronov can’t/won’t become a pretty dangerous threat for the Rivermen. His KHL PPG of .25 with 181 games isn’t dazzling. Neither is his -13 +/- lifetime in the same league. But the KHL is definitely a serviceable league with some gusto. Perhaps not better than the AHL, but definitely more mature. And what better place to better your defensive skills than in the St. Louis Blues organization.
A summer of ’89 birth-date places Andronov around the same age as a guy like Antti Tyrvainen. And maybe that’s not a bad comparison. A guy like Antti was expected to be a nasty player. In the end, he brought grit and offensive fearlessness that still surprises me. Both shoot left, can play right, and thus messing with defenders/goalkeepers heads. Both are seasoned internationally. Should be interesting to compare the two.