LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 10: Pathrik Vesterholm #29 of Team Sweden exchanges pushes with J.T. Miller #28 of Team USA at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 10, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. Team Sweden defeated Team USA 4-1.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Traverse City Tournament has come and gone, with the New York Rangers' prospects falling in the championship game to the Buffalo Sabres' prospects. But that doesn't mean the tournament was all bad.
We got a good look at some of the up-and-coming players within the Rangers' farm system, including an opportunity to see this year's first-round draft pick, J.T. Miller, extensively. We also got to look at a few players, Christian Thomas and Tim Erixon specifically, who are expected to make a push for a roster spot once training camp opens up.
So who stepped up? Who dropped the ball? Find out, after the jump.
Christian Thomas: Thomas came into this tournament trying to prove that he is ready for a roster spot with the big club this season. Although Thomas only notched a goal and two assists in four games, he was dangerous on every shift. Countless passes were completed by Thomas in dangerous areas of the ice, only for his line mates to miss potential goals. And while Thomas flaunted his vision all tournament, it took him three games before he really started to shoot the puck. Once he did start ripping shots, you could see right away why scouts fell in love with him. Overall, this was a good series of games for Thomas, who proved he has all the skills necessary to become an NHL player. He's going to get a long, hard look in camp, and he deserves it after his performance at Traverse City.
Tim Erixon: Another play who entered the tournament trying to prove he's ready for a spot with the Rangers out of camp, Erixon did everything and anything anyone could have possibly expected from him. Erixon was brilliant on the power play, he was solid in his own zone and he transitioned the puck like a veteran. It should be noted that Erixon is the only player on the Rangers Traverse City roster with significant (or any) SEL experience, which made this tournament a little easier for him than other prospects. But if that's the case then you would expect Erixon to dominate, and I think he did. Sure his offensive numbers could have been better, but the team was always dangerous when he was on the ice. Remember that the Ranges' organization is very high on the young defenseman, so I really expect him to stick with the big club this year out of camp.
Carl Hagelin: The Swedish forward entered play after a career year in the NCAA with the Michigan Wolverines, and was said to have quick hands and a nifty shot. Well, he showed off both during the tournament. If Hagelin hadn't opened your eyes before this tournament, they're probably open now. He showed off his speed, his shot and his vision all tournament. And while I still don't think he's ready for the NHL just yet, he's getting there.
J.T. Miller: Miller was watched very closely this tournament, mainly because there are people who believed other players should have been drafted instead of him. Although Miller had a pretty bad outing his first game, I think he got better as the tournament went on, and was great in the final game. I thought Miller truly showed what he could bring to the table in the championship game, making a difference almost everywhere he went. He scored a goal, threw out a few great passes and hit everything that moved. His overall game is what drew the Rangers to him, and he showed it in flashes during Traverse City. Now it's time for him to find consistency, but for his first tournament, I loved what I saw from him.
Note: Due to an early day at work, I could only analyze a few of the bigger names below. Tomorrow will include the rest of the pack. Tomorrow's post will include Ryan Bourque, Dylan McIlrath and all the rest.