New Year, New Faces, Same Goals

New prospects in the system, new players for the farm and a surprising number of new guys for the pro team. Your Ol' Pal Sparty was making moves this offseason.
by Sean Gallagher | November 9, 2022, 1:55 AM ET

In recent years your St. Louis Spartans have accumulated a large amount of draft picks. They've also made the odd splash here or there in free agency. But this year was just a little different. How so? Glad you asked.

-After moving up to the fifth overall pick in the draft in exchange for the recently-acquired Mark Scheifele, the Spartans flipped that pick and one of last year's first rounders, Brennan Othmann for the second overall pick in 2022.

-Before this year, the biggest FA Season in team history was likely 2017 when the team added both Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to big contracts on the pro team. This year the Spartans added five pro team forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. 

-Having never lost a player to an RFA offer sheet, Sparta agreed to compensation this year to add two high draft picks.

So there's your tl;dr. Need more info? pull up a chair, friend.

The Draft

While enjoying a fantastic weekend in Toronto for the second SICHL Summit, St. Louis was able to come into the day with the second overall pick as well as eight other choices. The team picked second overall for the third time in their history (Alex Pietrangelo, 2008; Phil Kessel, 2006). Joining the club of Highest Draft Pick in Team History (St. Louis has never drafted first overall) was slick offensive center Logan Cooley. Cooley will play with the University of Minnesota before signing his first pro contract.

The rest of The Fateful Eight on draft day were

Defenseman Ty Nelson (45th overall)

Forwards Kirill Dolzhenkov (91st overall), Josh Filmon (147th), Brandon Lisowsky (161st)

Defenseman Jackson Dorrington (167)

Forward Maxim Barbashev (173)

Defenseman Artyom Barabosha (177)

Forward Tyson Dyck (207)

 

Draft Day Fun Fact: Knowing how many people want to know who you're going to take with the second overall pick is almost more fun than making the actual pick.

 

"Free" Agency Frenzy

It's a tough deal when you're trying to stay under the radar in free agency but in the first round you also dropped $71 million on two top six forwards plus another $15.4 million on two depth players. However, it really took a couple more rounds before the rest of the league realized just how crazy GM Gallagher was willing to get. In the end the Spartans added these assets out on the market:

Spartans Forwards: T.J. Oshie, Phil Kessel, Cam Atkinson, Jay Beagle, Ryan Reaves. Oshie, Kessel, Atkinson and Beagle all return to St. Louis for their second tours. Oshie and Kessel are among the team franchise leaders in many categories. Atkinson looks to slide up and down the lineup as needed and Beagle will slot right in to the penalty killing role he held the last time he lived in the Gateway City. Reaves is expected to make a big impact in a different way for the team.

Spartans Defensemen: Kevin Shattenkirk, Nikita Zaitsev, Robert Bortuzzo. All three players return to St. Louis. Bortuzzo was acquired last season and made enough of an impression that the team was willing to sign him to a two year deal. Zaitsev has helped anchor the St. Louis defense for the last two-plus years while Shattenkirk signed his fourth straight contract with the team since being acquired back in 2014. Shattdeuces will be here for at least two more years.

Spartans Goalie: Martin Jones signed with the team for two years. He will back up Marc-Andre Fleury this year.

Chesterfield Cardinals Forwards: Adam Cracknell, Ryan MacInnis, Justin Ducharme. Cracknell returns to the Cards while MacInnis returns home to play in St. Louis.

Chesterfield Cardinals Goalie: Ben Bishop. Assuming the soon-to-retire netminder isn't claimed in the waiver draft, Bishop will conclude his SICHL career in the city where he learned to play and love the game.

RFA Offers? Surprisingly, Lawson Crouse was offer-sheeted by the Nova Scotia Schooners. While the Spartans assumed they would match any offer for Crouse, they took compensation this time.

"We love that guy and were so happy to see him start to blossom" said Gallagher, "We needed to add a first round pick to our stable for the year and getting a one and a two for him at this point of his career was a move we thought we should make. I have no doubt he will continue to grow and be a great pro."

 

Free Agency Fun Fact: The Spartans reportedly lost out on signing Jamie Benn by SIX DOLLARS on a $26,000,006 contract.

 

One Area Stayed The Same, Though

The entire coaching staff is returning for their fourth season together at the helm. Head Coach R.J. Umberger, Forwards Coach Mike Richards, Defense Coach Matt Walker, Special Teams/Video Coach Nathan Horton and Goaltending Coach Evgeni Nabokov have compiled a record of 144-82-20 in three years and have been to the Conference Finals twice in that time.

"We have the utmost confidence in our coaching staff, every one of them a St. Louis Spartans franchise record holder," said Gallagher, "I think we've gone out and given them both the tools to go win now as well as a strong pipeline so that they can expect to compete for a long time."

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