Columbus Blue Jackets players will take the ice in Traverse City for the annual prospect tournament September 7th-11th.
One of the great events of the year kicks off on the 7th in Traverse City, Michigan as prospects from eight NHL teams will gather for a tournament to kick-off their season. For the 17th straight year, the Columbus Blue Jackets will participate in the tournament.
This year will be a bit different though as the Jackets are sending a very different looking squad. There will only be five players drafted by the organization and another five that have signed entry level contracts with the team. The remaining 13 players will all be free agent invitees who have no contract with the organization.
The Jackets will be missing top prospect Vitaly Abramov for the tournament unfortunately. The Russian winger is recovering from an injury and will sit out in hopes that he can be as close to 100% as possible for training camp.
The Jackets will open the tournament on Thursday with a practice and a game in the afternoon against the prospects of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Friday, Sept. 7
4 p.m. vs Chicago Blackhawks
Saturday, Sept. 8
3:30 p.m. vs St. Louis Blues
Monday, Sept. 10
7 p.m. vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Tuesday, Sept. 11
The final game of the tournament will pit the Jackets against the team that finishes in their same spot following the round robin tournament from the other four team division.
Players to Watch
Although the Columbus Blue Jackets will be without their top tier prospects, there are still some interesting players to watch. The Jackets first round pick from this year will be at the tournament before heading to camp. Liam Foudy was a blast to watch at the prospect camp in Columbus and expect nothing less from him in Traverse.
Foudy will be the fastest player at the tournament and the team hopes that leads to explosive scoring opportunities. He will have a few solid, overage prospects on his line to help such as Kole Sherwood, Maxime Fortier, and London teammate Billy Moskal.
Eric Robinson, Jonathan Davidsson, and Kevin Stenlund will also be players to watch. All could make the NHL roster out of camp but will likely be core contributors in Cleveland. Seeing them progress and take a bigger role on the team at this tournament would be great to see.
Matiss Kivlenieks will be the squads main goaltender for the tournament. Expect him to be the biggest reason why this team makes a run to a championship. Matiss should take a big step forward this year after a rough go-round in Cleveland last year. This tournament should be the start to a good year for the Latvian.
The team will be coached by John Madden, the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters. Madden will get an early look at a few of the prospects that will be crucial to his attempt to turn around the Monsters this year.