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Traverse City Bantering Points: Why It's A Good Thing And Some Random Prospect Thoughts

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Some Tuesday morning Bantering points.

Bruce Bennett

Let me kick things off by saying I love the Traverse City tournament. It makes it feel like hockey is coming back that much quicker and when the games are aired by MSG and we can actually watch them it makes it even better. And since the schedule has been released let's talk about Traverse City and then some prospects I'm excited about right now:

- The tournament is a really good measuring stick for some of these prospects when they're going up against other teams. It really is. And it lets us get a good look at the different levels of some of the prospects.

- There are a couple of mainstays, too. Guys like Dylan McIlrath and Ryan Bourque feel like they've been around the tournament forever. Which isn't a bad thing. Remember, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan went through these tournaments as well. And if my memory serves me right, they actually won the tournament one year.

- Speaking of Bourque, I feel like this is a make or break year of him development wise. He's learned to do all the little things right in the AHL, now it's time to put up some numbers. He's almost like a Ryan Callahan type of player without the offense right now. That could be worse, but it's not going to get him up to the NHL.

- Both Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast are 21. Seems kind of crazy considering how much time they've spend in Sweden and how much hype there is around both of them. That can only be a good thing. Fast did score a goal in his only AHL appearance this year. Lindberg was a finalist for MVP of the SEL, to boot.

- Two guys I'm going to keep a very close eye on this year: Calle Andersson and Thomas Spelling. Andersson should have been much better last year but didn't get the ice time. That should change this year. And Spelling is a really interesting prospect who dominated a lower league two years ago and could turn into something. Both are worth keeping up with.

- Christian Thomas didn't have a bad season with the Connecticut Whale (now back to the Hartford Wolf Pack). He had 19 goals in 73 games which is nothing to be ashamed of. I expect bigger things from him. I think he's going to be a better player than some of you are giving him credit for.

- I'm also a big fan of Boo Nieves. Did really nice things with Michigan his freshman year in the NCAA. He registered 8 goals and 21 assists for 29 points in 40 games. Not bad at all.

- And, of course, one of my favorite prospects right now: Michael St. Croix. He had 92 points in 72 regular season games for his WHL Oil Kings and then had a whopping 26 points in 22 playoff games. Compare that to his numbers two years ago (105 points in 72 regular season games and 19 points in 20 playoff games) and I think the Rangers have something special.

Anyway, enough rambling from me. Anyone else you guys are interested in?