On Tuesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes prospects wrapped a perfect event with a 4-0 record some championship hardware in the 2016 Traverse City NHL prospects tourney. The Hurricanes have not won the tourney since 2009 which was also the last time the team played playoff hockey, so hopefully the victory foretells even greater things to come.
You can find recaps here:
A naysayer might say that the tourney is just an exhibition tourney for the sake of player development. But for the Hurricanes organization specifically, I think the tourney championship has significant value and meaning.
Setting a tone with the Hurricanes kids
This tournament is the first time that about 8 of the players played against an opponent wearing a Hurricanes uniform. There is something powerful about winning a championship especially when it is also the first time that many of these players played together.
A positive vibe heading into training camp
These players should arrive back in Raleigh on Wednesday with a day to recoup before starting the NHL training camp on Friday. Roughly one-third of the players on the ice on Friday will have a 4-game winning streak and an early season championship under their belts. That should bring positive energy into training camp.
Momentum for individual players
The Canes roster is a bit more set than this time last year with fewer openings, but there is still a chance that a player or 2 rides momentum from Traverse City into training and uses it to push deep into training camp and a chance to win an opening night roster spot.
The Hurricanes prospect pool is becoming much deeper
When you consider that the Hurricanes first and second round picks from the 2015 draft (Noah Hanifin and Sebastian Aho) did not participate because they are already a notch above the prospect level and also that leader Haydn Fleury was lost after 1 game, the championship is even more impressive. A significant part of that is Ron Francis’ commitment to adding depth in the organization. In addition to Canes draftees, the roster also featured a few players obtained with extra draft picks and also Roland McKeown and Valentin Zykov who were obtained in trades. The Hurricanes also have 5 prospects who are playing NCAA hockey in 2016-17 and were therefore not available for Traverse City.
This last one is easily my favorite. Winning prospect tourneys does not guarantee success 2-3 years out, but it does suggest that the pool of players that might help drive success in 2-3 years is in a good place right now.