It’s the best time of the calendar year if you’re a hockey fan. As the temps cool off and the leaves begin to turn, we start looking for pucks to hit the ice in the dawn of a new season. With training camp for the Columbus Blue Jackets a little less than two weeks away, we first turn our attention to the annual Traverse City Prospects Tournament. And this year, for the third year in a row, the Jackets are sending a stacked squad.
Two seasons ago, the Blue Jackets sent a really strong group to the tournament and came away with the championship trophy. That team included players like Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov – who both played in the NHL that season. Last year, they sent another strong forward duo that would play in the NHL – Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko.
This year though, this team feels really special. Led up front by recent third overall pick Adam Fantilli, and on the back end by last year’s sixth overall pick David Jiricek, the Jackets have a star-studded lineup chocked full of high-end future NHL stars. I think at least 10 of these players will be in the NHL – a few of them as early as this year. They should be a really fun group to watch.
Pyyhtia – Fantilli – Dumais
Malatesta – Voronkov – McKown
Peddle – del bel Belluz – Pinelli
Rysavy – ??? – Butler
Extras: Sean McGurn, Oasiz Wiesblatt, Justin Pearson, Kocha Delic
Mateychuk – Jiricek
Svozil – Ceulemans
Knazko – Roger
Extras: Gunner Kinniburgh, Nicholas DeAngelis
This will be our first look at Adam Fantilli in game action for the Blue Jackets. I fully expect him to steal the show and dominate at this tournament – he’s the highest profile player heading to Traverse City. If he and reigning QMJHL MVP winner Jordan Dumais can develop any chemistry, 2020 fourth round pick Mikael Pyyhtia will have the enviable job of banging in easy goals all weekend long.
QMJHL playoff and Memorial Cup MVP winner James Malatesta helps form what should be a nasty second line that we’ll love to watch. He’s undersized, but he’s a pest who loves to get under the opponents’ skin and score goals. Hulking, physically imposing center Dmitry Voronkov should be a nice fit alongside him. I think he’ll be on the opening night roster, so keep a close eye on #10. Hunter McKown is a natural center, but I could see him being used on the wing in this tournament to give him a better look. His two-way acumen and shot should make him an interesting player to watch; these linemates should give him space to get that shot away pretty often.