There has been a lot of hype heading into the Traverse City Tournament this year, and for good reason. For the first time, we will get the opportunity to watch the games live, instead of hearing about them from bloggers and other media outlets. We will finally get first hand looks at Dylan McIlrath, Tim Erixon, Christian Thomas, J.T. Miller, and other Ranger prospects that we have not seen play before. We have read about them and written about them, but most have not seen them play. I myself have only really seen the NCAA players and the players who played at the World Juniors.
But with the ability to watch comes some lofty expectations. The kids I mentioned about are all highly touted prospects that will see top pairing/top-six minutes. There is no doubt some expectations that comes along with the ability to play in this tournament, and some are deserved, while some aren’t. Yes, you’re getting a bullet point list of things to look for in the tournament.
- If the line of Shane McColgan-Ryan Bourque-Christian Thomas stays together, expect them to compete for the World’s Smallest Forward Line. Second place will go to Mike Cammalleri-Scott Gomez-Brian Gionta.
- Also, expect that line to wow you with skill.
- Carl Hagelin is very, very, very, very fast. Unlike Luis Mendoza, he can stop. He can score, especially since he will be paired with J.T. Miller. If the midget line is going to provide most of the offense, then expect this duo to take some of the pressure off them.
- I don’t know why Randy McNaught, a fighter/tough guy, is on that line. I would expect someone like Tommy Grant, who has an offensive skill set, to be on that line.
- Andrew Yogan and Michael St. Croix, despite being on the bottom forwards, will get a decent amount of ice time.
- Yogan is playing for a contract next year. Don’t forget that.
- Dylan McIlrath might actually kill someone if he lands a well placed hit. That is unless he goes up against the aforementioned midget line. They can just skate through his legs.
- Tim Erixon is likely going to look like the most professional player out there. The kid has already played professionally, while no one else on this roster has. No, the CHL is not considered to be the pros in my mind.
- This tournament may have a lot of say into who makes the CT Whale, and who goes to the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL. Blake Parlett and Lee Baldwin are two guys to watch closely. They may not realize it, but they are battling for an AHL spot.
- As Jess Rubenstein pointed out the other day, the kids invited as non-roster players are playing for contracts, but will be sent back to the CHL for their overage years.