The Blue Jacket prospects took a 3-2 OT win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, finishing their Traverse City run with a 2-1-0 record. While the final game of the tournament was much closer than most expected, the team performed well enough to get the job done and afterward all 22 prospects from the roster were named to the main camp for the Blue Jackets. The team as a whole was solid, and this list will highlight the players who led the way.
This list could very well start and end with 2022 third round pick Jordan Dumais. We all expected Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko to put on a show, and they did (more on them later); but Dumais wasted no time, scoring goals on his first two shifts of the tournament. He would go on to finish tied with Marchenko for the team lead in goals (3), and for second in overall points (5). The speedy winger seemed like he was always in the right place at the right time, and went into the hard to play areas. He’s a talented scorer who can get his shot off in a hurry. It’s no wonder he was the highest scoring CHL player available for this summer’s draft, and he had that swagger all weekend. Grade: A+
Kent Johnson was also terrific for the club, spending the tournament as their captain and top line center. He led the team with 6 points and he certainly looked the part of an NHL ready player. Every time he has the puck on his stick, you simply can’t turn away. He’s a terrific puck handler who also showcased his underrated shooting ability. What impresses me the most about Kent is his ability to wait one extra moment, drawing more attention to himself before setting up his teammates. The play below is one example – notice how he makes one extra deke before flipping this puck to Marchenko in open space. This draws in a defender and gives Kirill time to catch up with the play, leading to a goal. Grade: A+
Kirill Marchenko had a slow start to the tournament, looking like he hadn’t played hockey in six months. There were some ugly turnovers in the first game from trying to do too much, but he got better as the tournament went on. By the end of the tournament, I thought he’d settled in nicely and was one of the best players on the ice. He works hard on both sides of the puck and the skill is obvious. He isn’t flashy like Johnson or speedy like Dumais, but he oozes offense and is an efficient player, needing only a slight window of opportunity to find goals. He had three points in the finale, including the OT winner (video below). While he looked rusty to start things off, he finished strong. Grade: A