- The first sign of hockey season truly starting is the Traverse City Tournament. It's a great opportunity to watch some of the Rangers best prospects (although a few are always missing) in action before they're fighting for a spot during training camp. This year the tournament starts September 12th. It's not that far away ...
(Forwards): Nathan Burns, Anthony Duclair, Ryan Haggerty, Keegan Iverson, Michael Kantor, Nickolas Latta, Paxton Leroux, Chris McCarthy, Bryan Moore, Richard Nejezchleb, Logan Nelson, Josh Nicholls, Michael St. Croix, Adam Tambellini
(Defensemen): Mat Bodie, Troy Donnay, Ryan Mantha, Sam Noreau, Dallas Valentine, Daniel Walcott, Petr Zamorsky
(Goaltenders): Brandon Halverson, Mackenzie Skapski
Here are the players I'm most interested in seeing and why:
Duclair - Do I really need to go into this one? In his first pre-season game in the QMJHL he recorded an assist 44 seconds into the game. He finished the night with two assists. There's more, but we really don't have the space.
Iverson - There's a lot to love about Iverson, and some deeper research proved his numbers from last year (while not overwhelming) may have been suppressed a little by the role he was forced to play. He'll get an opportunity to get those bigger minutes this year, but Traverse City will be his first chance to really shine.
Tambellini - Flew under the radar a bit last year due to Pavel Buchnevich and Duclair having their own monster seasons. Still, 39 points in 31 WHL games as a rookie isn't a bad way to start. I'm excited to see his bigger frame go up against some other more seasoned prospects.
Haggerty - Was one of the bigger fish in the NCAA pond this year, and the Rangers nabbed him early. As advertised he has a great shot and the ability to score from anywhere. We'll see if that's the case in Traverse City.
Bodie - I keep hearing the same thing about Bodie from different people. Really good player, expect him to easily be an NHLer, but he's not ready yet. At 24 he certainly wouldn't be the oldest defenseman to make it to the NHL as a rookie (they do take longer to develop) but with Brady Skjei seemingly on the way next year or the year after, I'm not sure if there's much room for him. Unless he can push Dylan McIlrath out of the way.
Walcott - Call me crazy, I have a good gut feeling about this kid. I can't really explain it, but I'm happy to get a chance to see him play against some better prospects to see if he really is as complete of a player as people are saying he is and can be.
- And, of course, Kevin Hayes, who joined the roster after signing with the New York Rangers a few days ago. There will be a ton of eyes on Hayes since the expectations are so high, but Traverse City is never the greatest litmus test. Put it to you this way: Ryan Bourque is the Rangers' highest scoring prospect in the history of the tournament.
Thoughts, guys? Who are you most excited to see?