The NHL offseason has it's landmarks. The NHL Entry Draft, opening day off free agency and, if one of your teams is lucky enough to participate in it, the Traverse City Tournament.
Tonight, the Rangers Traverse City roster takes on the St. Louis Blues roster. Since this is really a tournament built around top prospects (with some omissions of course), it should be noted that St. Louis has the fifth best farm system in the league according to Hockey's Future. If you're wondering, the Rangers come in at the seventh best.
Either way, some big names will be on display for the Rangers; with a few of them trying to take their first steps towards making the team this year.
Tim Erixon is one of those players. And while he's probably the only New York Rangers' prospect expected to make the lineup this year, nothing is guaranteed. We talked yesterday in our Traverse City prospect countdown about how Erixon's experience in the SEL should have him more than prepared for what he is going to face tonight.
Join me after the jump for some line combinations.
Shane McColgan/Ryan Bourque/Christian Thomas
Carl Hagelin/JT Miller/Randy McNaught
Jason Wilson/Jon Audy-Marchessault/Tommy Grant
Jordan Hickmott/Michael St. Croix/Thomas (double shifted)
Kale Kerbashian/Andrew Yogan/Tayler Jordan
Again, these could very well change....
Jyri Niemi-Dylan McIlrath
Tim Erixon-Blake Parlett
Collin Bowman-Petr Ceresnak
Lee Baldwin-Samuel Noreau
The top line is an intriguing one.
We've heard Shane McColgan has "big-game" potential, and we know what Christen Thomas brings to the table, but how will they play with Ryan Bourque as their center? Bourque, who Zipay said would probably be names captain of the squad, can certianly dish the puck; as seen by his 33 assists in 49 QMJHL regular season games, and 11 assists in 18 playoff games. Expect this line to have a very good tournament if they end up staying together.
Note the fact that J.T. Miller is starting on the second line with Carl Hagelin and Randy McNaught. Miller plays an all-around game, and his ability to both score and pass was something that caught Gordie Clark's eye before he was drafted. Hagelin found the back of the net often in college, but he was more dangerous feeding the puck to his teammates. Miller should be able to do both as well, so seeing how they work with each other will be fun.
Also remember to keep an eye on Michael St. Croix and Andrew Yogan tonight. Both will have something to prove, and there's no better time than the present.
Both Erixon and Dylan McIlrath are expected to play big defensive rolls, and might find themselves paired up together as the tournament progresses. If that happens then expect Erixon to take a more offensive approach to the game.
Glen Sather confirmed that both goaltenders would start two games each.
That's all for now. There will be an open thread for the game tonight! So make sure to come back and kick off our season the right way.
Drop the puck!