Get to Know Brett Sterling

Get to Know Brett Sterling

Brett Sterling (2)photo © 2010 Keith & Alyssa | more info (via: Wylio)
This weekend the St. Louis Blues announced that they had signed Brett Sterling to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $200,000 at the AHL level, as reported by Sterling is likely a pretty unfamiliar name for most as he has skated in just 26 NHL games since the 2007-08 season, but he has made a pretty big name for himself down in the AHL.

Drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 5th round (145th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Sterling was a standout player for Colorado College, scoring 184 points over 150 games.

He then made the transition from college to the AHL in the 2006-07 season when he skated with the Chicago Wolves, and quickly opened eyes by scoring 55 goals and 42 assists for a total of 97 points in 77 games. He didn’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game either, adding 96 penalty minutes. These efforts caused Sterling to earn the Willie Marshall Award, a recognition given to the AHL’s leading scorer. He also received Rookie of the Year honors and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team.

Due to his outstanding season in 2006-07 with the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrashers gave him his first NHL action in 2007-08. Unfortunately, Sterling wasn’t able to maintain a spot on the NHL roster which caused him to be sent down to the Chicago Wolves and brought back several times throughout the season. When the dust settled on the 2007-08 season, Sterling wound up with 13 NHL games (one goal, two assists and 14 penalty minutes) and 70 AHL games (38 goals, 33 assists and 116 penalty minutes).

The 2008-09 season was more of the same for Sterling, with him skating in a handful of games for the Thrashers while spending the bulk of his time in the AHL. This time he skated in six NHL games (one goal and two penalty minutes) and 52 games with the Wolves (17 goals and 22 assists with 84 penalty minutes).

Sterling’s NHL development took a year off in 2009-10, as the left winger failed to appear in any NHL games. He did skate in 55 AHL games and contributed 34 goals and 22 assists, but ultimately wasn’t rewarded with any NHL action for his efforts.

In June of 2010, the Atlanta Thrashers dealt Sterling to the San Jose Sharks, but the Sharks chose not to sign the winger and allowed his contract to expire. On July 3rd, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sterling to a one-year, $500,000 contract.

The 2010-11 season saw him appear in 65 AHL games (27 goals, 26 assists and 88 penalty minutes) and seven NHL games with the Penguins (three goals and two assists with 16 penalty minutes).

The Penguins decided to not sign Sterling to a new deal which is how the Blues were able to secure him to the previously mentioned deal.

So what should we make of this newest addition?

Clearly, Sterling knows how to score and produce offense. In 319 AHL games, he has scored 316 points (171 goals, 145 assists and 422 PIMs) and in 26 games at the NHL level he has scored nine points.

According to Hockey’s Future, Sterling has solid hands (as evidenced by his scoring totals) and while he is capable of making the final pass, he prefers to take on the shot himself (like a natural scorer).

Listed at 5’7″ and 175 lbs., size is something this forward is lacking. However, as evidenced by his penalty minute totals, he isn’t afraid to head to the gritty areas of the ice and throws around every inch of his relatively small frame.

At 27 years of age, Sterling can no longer be viewed as a prospect. He hasn’t been granted an extended exposure at the NHL level, but one has to think that if he is going to make big splashes at the NHL level, it will have to come in the near future.

The Blues needed to add another left-handed forward to their roster, and that’s exactly what Sterling provides. It’s impossible to fathom whether or not we will see him on the 2011-12 starting roster as it remains yet to be seen if the Blues will go out and add any other players as the summer rolls on.

Overall, I think this is a nice signing for the Blues. Sterling lacks name recognition but has a wealth of talent that he could unleash on the NHL if given an extended opportunity. His deal has a pretty small hit to the salary cap ($600,000) and the fact it is a two-way deal grants the Blues some options on how to handle him following training camp.

We’ll end on a video of one of Sterling’s shootout goals from December of 2010, highlighting his patience and hands around the net.