Traverse City Tournament: Bantering Points

Some bantering points on the first hockey games of the year.

Today marks the beginning of the Traverse City Tournament. Do you know what that means? Hockey is in the air! Hockey is back! Training camp starts soon! Hockey is back! The New York Rangers are coming!

Anyway, let's get on with our first official hockey notes of the year.

- I talked yesterday about the top five players to keep an eye on as the tournament gets under way. I'm personally most excited for Anthony Duclair, but that's just me. He's got a lot to prove in the QMJHL next year, so his performance will get a very close look from the Rangers brass. Still, of everyone in the tournament, Duclair has the least amount of true pressure since he hasn't even had his first year in the Rangers' system yet. But I'm still thrilled to see what he can bring to the table.

- The other player I'm excited about seeing? Danny Kristo. I know this is kind of a rehash of what I said in yesterday's story, but it's a player I think you all are excited to see as well. The Rangers have talked Kristo up this year. That's fantastic, and it makes it even more exciting that they got him, but now it's time for him to strut his stuff.

- Always interesting to see what the Rangers do with goaltenders. They've drafted a few duds at the position over the years, which makes it even more interesting to watch. MacKenzie Skapski might have been a sixth round pick, but the Rangers (especially Gordie Clark) don't waste draft picks. They have plans (or maybe hopes?) for him.

- A lot of people have said a lot of good things about Conor Allen since the Rangers picked him up last offseason. He even made it as the "sleeper pick" in Hockey Prospectus' Top 10 New York Rangers prospects.

The Sleeper: Connor Allen, Defense

Allen is a steady two-way defenseman who is tough on his checks, and he can move the puck fine. He will play his first pro season in 2013-14, and he could hit the ground running.

- I think a lot of fans are going to want to see what some of the older, more experienced players can do. Guys like Andrew Yogan, Michael St. Croix, Kyle Jean, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast come to mind.

- Especially Lindberg and Fast, right? Lindberg won playoff MVP in the SHL and had a monster year. He should have no issues with Traverse City, right?

- There is a level of expectation for Thomas Spelling, too. Not just because of his decision this summer, but because he's going to be older than most of the players in the tournament. That should help him have a great tournament.

- I don't know this, so it's just a guess, but you have to assume the Rangers have one of the most "experienced" teams in the tournament, no? Kristo has four years of NCAA experience, Lindberg and Fast have a wealth of SHL experience and even Spelling has experience overseas. Seems like this group should be able to take this tournament.