St. Louis placed Jeff Woywitka on waivers today. He was part of the original Pronger deal (the center of the trade for St. Louis was Eric Brewer) and has always been considered a quality prospect. He was a Red Deer Rebel in junior and a first round pick by Philadelphia. They dealt him to the Oilers for Mike Comrie (the Oilers also picked up the draft pick that turned into Comrie-light, Robbie Schremp).
Kevin Lowe liked him:
“Woywitka has all the tools,” Lowe said. “He had a bit of an up-and-down season this year. We’re pretty patient with him, he’s only a second-year pro. His strengths are in his puck-moving abilities. You have to have defensemen who can make that good first pass. His skating is good and he’s pretty solid in his own end. He does have to improve defensively and he’s making progress. We have high expectations for him, for sure. He got good training playing for Red Deer. A lot of players come out of that program ‘pro-ready.’ If you stick around (GM-coach) Brent Sutter for awhile, you learn respect for the game and accountability. Jeff is a very good example of that.”
Woywitka has played 60 NHL games since turning pro, 256 in the AHL. At 24 (he’s 3 and a half months younger than Matt Greene) he still has plenty of time to establish himself in the NHL, especially considering that defenders take a little longer to develop. The Blues website lists the defenseman on the roster and here they are by NHL games played:
- Jay McKee 605
- Eric Brewer 518
- Bryce Salvador 391
- Barret Jackman 231
- Christian Backman 183
- Matt Walker 132
- Erik Johnson 0
Johnson is that first overall pick the Blues got for being terrible in 05-06, Walker is the guy one would think Woywitka was in competition with and the others are guys who are more established (and better, obviously). Walker is a “keep it simple” defender, Woywitka has a wider range of skills and no one dominant ability.
If he’s any good, someone will claim him. He doesn’t cost that much, has his future in front of him and comes at the cost of an end-of-the-roster spot.
It’s that simple.