Traverse City Prospect Notes

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 13: Kent Johnson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at Nationwide Arena on April 13, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated Montreal 5-1. Johnson was making his NHL debut in the game. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 13: Kent Johnson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at Nationwide Arena on April 13, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated Montreal 5-1. Johnson was making his NHL debut in the game. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Luca del bel Belluz was strong as the team’s second line center, scoring two points (1g, 1a); but I was more impressed by his mature game than his offensive production. He looked good in the faceoff circle and played above the puck, working to help both offensively and defensively. The lone goal he scored was very nice, he shows patience here and takes the ice that’s given to him, before showing off his shot. He looks like a future middle-six center in the NHL, who will give the team a quality player on both sides of the puck. Grade: B+

Mikael Pyythia unfortunately suffered an injury that took him out of the Detroit game early – and I think that threw the whole rhythm off for the team. He was a solid third piece to the top line and quietly finished the tournament with three assists. While we didn’t get to see much of him unleashing his patented shot, he proved that he can play with the most skilled guys on the roster and keep pace. He didn’t really stand out, and to be honest, that’s not all that bad for a guy like this, who I was watching very closely. He was just solid all around. Grade: B+

James Malatesta only showed up with one assist on the scoresheet, but I thought he was an important part of this team’s top-six. He’s a scrappy player who brings a lot of grit and two-way hockey, and his play shouldn’t go unnoticed as he battled hard throughout the tournament. Though undersized, he went into the corners regularly and did the dirty work to create time and space for his linemates; mostly del bel Belluz and Dumais. He reminds me a little bit of Matt Calvert, which is certainly not a bad thing. Grade: B+

QUEBEC CITY, QC – OCTOBER 18: James Malatesta #11 of the Quebec Remparts (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)
QUEBEC CITY, QC – OCTOBER 18: James Malatesta #11 of the Quebec Remparts (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images) /

Liam Hawel seems like a player the Blue Jackets might be wise to offer a contract to. He’s not the best skater, but he has some skill and maybe bottom-six potential; but at the very least he seems like a guy who could help in the AHL. He was a fourth round pick of the Dallas Stars but has gone unsigned, could he perhaps be a replacement for Kevin Stenlund? I definitely think he played well enough, even scoring a nice goal in the first game. Grade: B