Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blues sign Cheechoo to one-year, two-way contract

Former Rocket Richard winner will try to win job with parent club

ST. LOUIS -- Looking to add more punch to their American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria or seeking to reclaim some semblance of a 50-goal scorer in the NHL. That's what the Blues must decide after singing veteran winger Jonathan Cheechoo.

Cheechoo, who turns 31 on Friday, signed a one-year, two-way contract Wednesday for $600,000 NHL and $225,000 AHL that includes performance bonuses.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Moose Factory, Ontario native is a former Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner after scoring 56 goals in 82 games with the San Jose Sharks during the 2005-06 season. He followed that up with a 37-goal campaign in 2006-07, where he was an NHL All-Star. But Cheechoo hasn't played in the league since scoring five goals in 61 games with the Ottawa Senators in 2009-10.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored 56 goals for the Sharks in 2005-06.

Cheechoo, who has 186 goals and 154 assists in 501 regular season games and 59 playoff games, spent last season with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, San Jose's minor league affiliate after failing to land a job with the Dallas Stars following a try-out.

The right winger will go to camp in September with the Blues and have a chance to win a job. But in all likelihood is bound for Peoria to play for the Rivermen.

Cheechoo, drafted by San Jose in the second round (29th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, began his career with the Sharks in 2002-03, then scored 28 goals in his second season. He followed that up with a 56-goal, 93-point effort following the lockout season of 2004-05. Then came a 37-goal, 69-point season before his production began to sharply drop.

Cheechoo dipped to 23 goals in 2007-08, then 12 the following year before being traded to the Senators that brought Dany Heatley to San Jose.

Injuries began to mount, including a double sports hernia in 2007-08 despite playing in 69 games that season.

After tallying only 14 points for the Senators in 2009-10, Cheechoo was sent to AHL Binghamton and he hasn't seen an NHL rink since.

Cheechoo, who is a Cree Indian, scored 19 goals and added 29 assists in 55 games for Worcester a season ago and claims to be healthy once again.

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