For more on the Traverse City Tournament:
Traverse City Tournament roster with jersey numbers >
Look At The Traverse City Tournament Roster >
Report: Jordan Hickmott >
Report: Collin Bowman >
Report: Tayler Jordan >
Report: Michael St. Croix >
Are The Traverse City Unknowns? >
On The Possible Game 1 Traverse City Lines Used At Today's Practice >
1. How close is Dylan
The 2010 first-round pick has the organization giddy about
his future impact as a fearsome physical defenseman, but he’ll be allowed to
develop slowly. Expect McIlrath to
remain in the WHL this year regardless of what happens at Traverse City, but
this will be a great chance to see how he’s progressed over the last 12 months. McIlrath’s fighting ability and ferocious
hits are his calling card, but he’s also a more fluid skater than many know and
he’s been working on an impressive slap shot.
2. How will Christian
Thomas fair against improved competition?
Thomas absolutely tore up the OHL last year, but there will
be lingering questions about his NHL potential until he proves that his size
isn’t an obstacle against higher levels of competition. So far Thomas has been an extremely pleasant
surprise, but his goal-scoring ability was known even when he was drafted. Thomas’s confidence is understandably high
and the organization is very pleased with his development, but it will be
interesting to see if he can take the next step.
3. Are the Swedes ready
to shine on Broadway?
Tim Erixon and Carl Hagelin have arguably the best chances
to make the Rangers out of all the prospects at Traverse City, but they’ll need
strong showings at the September tournament to prepare them mentally for
training camp later in the month. Both
players are considered to be NHL-ready, but each could face stiff competition
for jobs on Broadway. Impressive performances
at Traverse City can only help their chances.
4. Are any of the non-Rangers’ prospects worth signing?
Tayler Jordan is known for being a team player, but he’ll
bring few NHL-caliber tools to the table other than his fists. Jordan Hickmott is past the age when most
legitimate prospects are discovered, but an offensive outburst in 2010-2011
earned him an invite to Traverse City. Matt
Rust is a superb defensive forward, but he may not have enough other
tools. Defenseman Collin Bowman has decent
size and did post 48 points last year, but the Rangers are knee-deep in defensive
prospects. For any of them to warrant
contract consideration from the Blueshirts they’d have to really open eyes at
5. What can we expect
from J.T. Miller?
At June’s NHL Draft the Rangers took J.T. Miller a bit
earlier than he was expected to go, but the American fits into New York’s
player mold perfectly. This summer
Miller switched from his original plan of playing for the University of North
Dakota this season and will now skate for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. The move is part of Miller’s plan to turn pro
next season and although that seems like a bit of an unrealistic goal right
now, Miller is clearly determined and Traverse City will be his chance to start
the year off with a bang.
6. Does New York have a
viable goalie prospect?
Jason Missiaen is more known for his 6-8, 220 lb. frame than
for his ability in net, but the Rangers were obviously intrigued when they
signed him last spring. Whether he has
any real future is in question. Scott
Stajcer had an up and down year and some believe that he still has a very
bright future while others think he’s an average prospect at best. Stajcer still has to prove himself on a
consistent basis, but he’s the Rangers’ best hope of having a decent netminder
in the pipeline.
7. Did the Rangers
uncover a gem or two at the draft?
Though each faces a major uphill climb, there is some
sentiment that Peter Ceresnak, Michael St. Croix and Shane McColgan could all
turn out to be major steals. Ceresnak
was selected in the fourth round of the CHL Import Draft by the Peterborough
Petes and seems committed to making a run at the NHL. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired, but
Ceresnak’s defensive game is solid. St.
Croix is known for his offensive ability and though he’s a bit one-dimensional,
his pure talent could have pushed him into the second or third round of the
draft. McColgan was thought to be one of
the draft’s best prospects heading into the 2010-2011 campaign, but he really
dropped off the map as the season progressed. Still, no one thought that he’d last until the fifth round and if he can
overcome his diminutive size, he could also have a very bright future.
8. Will Andrew Yogan emerge?
Yogan has flown under the radar since being drafted in the fourth
round in 2010. That’s largely been a
product of injuries, but Yogan was traded this offseason to Peterborough after
developing a reputation as a bit of a locker room problem with the Erie Otters. Deserved or not, Yogan will be under the
microscope this year, but he’s got a chance to become one of New York’s better
prospects. The first step will be to
solidify his relationship with Rangers’ brass and impress coaches with his
play, attitude and work ethic at Traverse City.
9. Are the Hartford-bound boys, Ryan Bourque and Jason Wilson,
going to help the CT Whale contend for a Calder Cup?
Both Bourque and Wilson seem likely to begin the season with
the Whale as both have outgrown their junior teams and aren’t ready to make a
run at the NHL. Bourque provides
tremendous character, the ability to play in all situations, and playmaking
ability while Wilson tries to model himself after Brandon Prust and plays an
effective grinding game. They should be
solid additions to a Whale club that looks poised for a big year, but making
the jump from juniors to professional hockey can be difficult and Traverse City
is an important stepping stone.
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