Aug
24

Traverse City Tournament: Looking at the potential Rangers roster and invitees

August 24, 2016, by
Pavel Buchnevich

Photo: Andreas Hillergren/AFP/Getty Images

Hockey season is right around the corner. But before pre-season, we will get to see prospects duke it out in the Traverse City Tournament. While the tournament is always fun, the Rangers haven’t been overly competitive the past few years. The issue has been the lack of prospects, and while there is some sweet talent coming in –Kovacs, Stromwall, Buchnevich, Gilmour, to name a few– I am certainly more excited this time around than last year.

While certainly not a big deal, I love when the club invites players non-roster players. You don’t need all of them to succeed, but if you’re scouting staff is good maybe you find someone that can become an NHL player. Last season, the Rangers had 11 invites, a major step up from 2014 (5) and 2013 (7).

One thing that remained constant with these invites is that the team did not have a single NCAA invite. I assume that is because technically, NCAA players cannot participate with any pro type game outside of a prospect camp (without paying their own way), so this list will not include any players who will be returning to the NCAA this upcoming season.

Possible locks for the roster

The first step to look into possible invites is to first look at which actual Rangers prospects will be going to the tournament. After signing Jimmy Vesey, I think the forward group will be the deepest in years.

Jimmy Vesey-Boo Nieves-Michael Joly
Ryan Gropp-Steven Fogarty-Pavel Buchnevich
Malte Stromwall-Brad Morrison-Robin Kovacs
Tim Gettinger-Gabriel Fontaine-Adam Chapie

This doesn’t include Ahti Oksanen, who may not be available due to his shoulder injury, and one of my favorite picks from this summer, Ty Ronning. I see both those guys respectively rotating with Chapie, Joly, and Gettinger. Essentially the only thing I see on forward open for invites is either another center or just a scoring winger to provide more options. From a quick glance on paper, this forward group seems very likely to be a force in the tournament, with a lot of depth and talent at this tournament level.

Defense is where it gets hard. I would assume the Rangers will be inviting defenseman but the weird thing is, if you remember the development camp in late June, the club only had seven defensemen and just two invites. One of them was Turner Ottenbreit (will get to him later), who was here last year, the other was Ryan Yaremko, who will be an NCAA player this year.

As for locks, only Sean Day, Sergey Zborovskiy, and John Gilmour appear to be set for the roster. Maybe Troy Donnay and Calle Andersson, even though they played in the pros last year. Clearly the Rangers have to be making a few invites on defense as they have anywhere from 3-5 spots open for the tournament roster.

While the goalie position is set at the prospect level, the roster spots for the Traverse City Tournament is up in the air. I wish Adam Huska (NCAA bound) would be a sure thing to be at the tournament because I loved him in the WJC. Brandon Halverson is likely to be the starter, but I don’t think Mackenzie Skapski needs to be there and Tyler Wall is also NCAA bound. There will be invites here too.

Potential Forward Invites

Alexis D’Aoust – For the rest of this post I will call him AD. AD is by far one of my top choices for not only receiving a camp invite but also a possible minor league deal. At 20 years old he can either go pro or go for his overage year in the QMJHL. Personally, I prefer adding him to the ECHL and seeing how he performs there.

AD went undrafted for the last two years, which confuses me. He has a nice mix of solid skating and willingness to go to the net. AD was fourth in points during the regular season in the QMJHL, with 44 goals and 54 assists (39 primary assists). The RW may never end up being a top line player at the NHL level, but skill set and size gives me hope that he can potentially be a solid third line scorer.

One more point in AD’s corner is the stats. If you recall, the Rangers lacked a second round pick this summer, and interestingly enough AD was seen as a possible second round pick this summer. Using the Draft Expected Value (DEV) tool (writeup here, by Jeremy Crowe), we see that his stats compared him to other second round picks. The article is a solid read.

Kyle Maksimovich – While AD can be playing for an AHL deal, someone like Maksimovich can be playing for exposure. At 18 years old, Maksimovich went undrafted this summer even after producing 71 points in 68 games for the Erie Otters. The thing that held him back was his height at 5’8″, but the talent level is certainly there to take a look at in a somewhat meaningless tournament. Here’s how he progressed throughout the season in the OHL:

Dashboard 1 (18)

Hayden Verbeek- If the Rangers are looking at centers as invites, the gritty nephew of Pat may get one. The hard working, defensively responsible center had a tough start to his OHL career, but the 19 year old is a teammate of prospect Tim Gettinger and former teammate of Brandon Halverson with the Soo Greyhounds. This is someone the Rangers are familiar with.

Cameron Askew – He was an invite last year to the tournament and in my opinion while he didn’t impress, certainly didn’t look out of place which is fine for a UDFA. Askew is a big 6’4″ power forward center who is a project. I spoke to his father last year and he said Askew has practically become a gym rat and will plan on working on his skating. Fast forward to this season and Askew not only improved on his acceleration but also saw a nice 20 point increase in his season totals. It is totally normal for the NYR to want to keep tabs on a player who has shown improvement and with likely one spot available I don’t see why they wont come back to a somewhat familiar option.

Honorable Mentions: Simon Stransky, Hayden McCool, Vladimir Kuznetsov

Potential Defense Invites

Darren Raddysh – Raddysh is one of two players that I can really see the NYR giving a look at during the tournament. The right handed defenseman and assistant captain for the Erie Otters likely won’t be an offensive guy, but he is one of those cases where being a leader and hard worker on a top team likely gets him a contract in the near future. The Rangers likely need a person who can eat some minutes on the right side if they want to try to win the tournament, I feel that Raddysh can be part of that.

Olivier GalipeauThe second of the players I really see the Rangers inviting. If his name sounds familiar it is because he was one of my draft targets last year. Galipeau bounced back from an off year to one where he was an option at pretty much every situation for his team as a first time captain. The left handed defenseman still likes to play a physical game but seeing his point totals nearly double after going undrafted is certainly nice to see from him.

Here’s how Galipeau and Raddys compare, side by side:

CHL

Dmitri Osipov – The big Moscow born right handed defenseman is a polarizing player. He is by no means a point producer, only hitting 12 points in each of his WHL seasons with the Vancouver Giants, but his physical defensive game is actually not overblown. His GF%rel is not bad at all for a player who doesn’t score much, and it’s a testament to his defensive play. Watching him shut down opponents at Traverse City could be fun.

Osipov usually has very nice positioning and likes to throw the body in order to separate player from puck. Osipov doesn’t have a great long breakout pass but he is quite adept at using the small quick passes out of the zone to help facilitate the breakout. I wouldn’t call him a great skater, but for 6’4″ he certainly isn’t terrible. He has great acceleration and once he gains speed is tough to stop while he carries the puck. He does need to improve on his stride, though.

Luc Deschenes- Another tough right handed defenseman who likes to throw the body, last season Deschenes began to add another element to his game on offense. He always had a hard shot and could skate the puck out well when he was younger, but a lot was attributed to how big he was compared to the other players. Now most players have caught up to him and he wasn’t able to standout. The raw talent may still be there and for a team with a shallow right side I certainly won’t be against trying him out.

Loik Leveille – While only 6’0″, the 223 lb right handed defenseman is one of those “do it all” players for his team. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagle defenseman is a fine skater who also has swift hands and passing to begin breakouts. He plays a lot of minutes on both ends and is the perfect player for the Rangers to not only tryout at Traverse City, but maybe with an AHL deal in the near future. He is coming in for his final year at the Q and while he hasn’t dominated he has done a little bit of everything. His ability to begin the breakout and skate is something the Rangers sorely need.

Here’s how Leveille compares to Frederic Allard, a third round pick in this year’s draft (Nashville).

Loik compared to NSH 3rd round pick Allard

Loik compared to NSH 3rd round pick Allard

Honorable Mentions: Jacob Neveu, Joe Gattenby, Turner Ottenbreit (I don’t really like him as much as other players mentioned, but I feel like with the Rangers showing a lot of interest at numerous camps he will be an invite).

"Traverse City Tournament: Looking at the potential Rangers roster and invitees", 5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
Categories : Prospects

31 comments

  1. amy says:

    this where the rookies shine and I am looking forward to seeing Jimmy Vesey give a good showing

  2. Walt says:

    Josh

    Is this going to be aired, and if so, where??????????? Thanks !!!!!!!!!

  3. Richter1994 says:

    My interest is in Vesey (of course), Buch (of course), Gropp, Kovacs, and Morrison, who does not get much air time but might be a sleeper.

    • Josh Khalfin says:

      Exactly, I love Morrison. Crafty kid

      • Richter1994 says:

        I agree, but for some reason he does not get the hype that others do. Great job!!

        • Josh Khalfin says:

          I think it’s because he isn’t a flashy guy. Sure he isn’t tearing it up but he was a late fourth rounder that is improving. He can be an energy guy too. Reminds me a bit of Dom Moore, if he piles points up this season I’ll be very happy.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Seems to be a north/south player though Josh. That type of game works in the NHL.

  4. Dave says:

    Another solid post from Josh “Prospect Guru” Khalfin.

  5. Stranger Nation says:

    Great post. Thanks for the insight.

  6. SalMerc says:

    I am a bit afraid of having Buch and Vesey playing here. While I want to see what they have, I fear an injury to one of these guys is too steep a price to pay. They both are penciled in as top 9 forwards and playing against other kids who need to make a name for themselves might be a bit too risky for me.

    I hope they play limited minutes.

    • Joe from newburgh says:

      They’re going to have to play for real sooner or later, and if you limit their exposure here, you’re losing a good chance to evaluate how good they really are. Yeah, Buch and Vesey look like sure things, but how many “sure fire” prospects have ended up as busts? Without exposing them to a challenge, you’re just guessing.

    • Dave says:

      Need to see if they can play. Honestly, there’s more injury risk with the World Cup than the TC Tournament.

  7. Furls says:

    Gropp is my sleeper.
    He could b the trigger man we’re looking for across from Buch

  8. AD says:

    Josh,

    Excellent information here provided for us all; well done, and thank you!

  9. HARLEMBLUES says:

    BOO baby BOO is the dude to watch He has size,skill and speed and has played in Hartford.

  10. Ray says:

    I know you like non-roster invitees, but sadly I think that the number of these has nothing to do with attitude and everything to do with the roster. The reason there were so many last year was because they were needed to fill out the team – the Rangers just didn’t own enough young players to field a team. This year, as you note Josh, they will need few forwards and in fact the ones they add may take playing time from their own players. OTOH, we should see lots of defensemen.

    Donnay is an interesting case. He is probably a wasted roster slot and if he isn’t at Traverse City, it is a sure sign that the Rangers believe that.

  11. Fotiu is God says:

    Thanks for the beta, Josh.

    Not that I need to blow Richter’s kilt up–he’s rather adept at that–but Brad Morrison likewise occupies my radar: a mid-draft overachiever.

    While you’re projecting a useful, if admirable Dom Moore type, I’m hoping for something akin to a Sean Monahan/Brendan Gallagher.

  12. paulronty says:

    99.9% of the invitees are just fodder for the tournament & have very little chance of making the big team. Kyle Jean was one of those types who was signed and turned out to be mediocre at best. There is a reason a lot of these guys wern’t drafted. As for Vladimir Kuznetsov, wasn’t he drafted?

    • Josh Khalfin says:

      Thing with the fodders are the NYRs bad prospect pool gives them the opportunity to invite a few guys. There has been a QMJHL bias lately and numerous teams have taken advantage of getting undrafted players by signing them to deals. PHI has Meyers and if we are generally speaking DET signed Joe Hicketts who played in the QMJHL in a similar way. These guys are legit prospects, sure they may not be of the level of Skjei but certainly better to try than what we currently have. Guys like Loik Leveille who have produced every year or Galipeau who has improved and played a two way game can end up being quality depth prospects for us should they impress. Their history as being undrafted may be beneficial as we can offer them AHL deals before a regular ELC. Yes that has it’s risks but its an option.

      The weird thing about Kyle Jean is that he didn’t even produce well in the NCAA, he just caught their eye in the camp against teenagers so signing him was odd if we factor in his age vs his competitors at the time.

      No Kuznetsov wasn’t drafted, neither was Stransky (he has attitude issues though) or Maxime Fortier. These are 3 young forwards who easily have 2nd – 3rd round talent. Signing them for nothing because they slide would essentially be adding a free 3rd rounder at the very least.

      • paulronty says:

        Can’t believe Kuznetsov wasn’t drafted. Hell, bring him in because he’s a guy I thought had a future. Marchessault was one the Rangers brought in who played very well but opted to go to TB because he saw no future with the Rangers. He was Ryan Bourque’s centre in JR but went undrafted. I think Joe Hicketts played out west, no?

        • Fotiu is God says:

          True dat, Paul.

          Hicketts played, I believe in The WHL. He’s in The Wings’ system now. I like that kid. Despite his size, we should’ve considered drafting him. Might be a Torrey Krug story.

          Anthony DeAngelo, too. Who’d Tampa trade him to, Paul?