Hope was to write this up early and have some time to write/clean up some training camp preview stuff tomorrow. Beginning Wednesday and especially into Thursday, the volume of stuff will start ramping up, so please check back regularly.
First, in the name of full disclosure, there was not video broadcast coverage for the Traverse City tourney, and the team mostly just provided updates on scoring plays, penalties, etc. So my thoughts are mostly from trying to sort through the data in the box scores. This obviously does not provide a complete view of what happened, so comments from team personnel (i.e. Coach Mark Morris and the other coaches) might provide more color. The project gets even more dicey when it is reported that the box scores from the tourney are imperfect. (Source for stats is Pointstreak.)
Regardless, imperfect information is better than no information as long as you are careful about how you use it.
First a quick summary, for anyone who did not track the tourney:
–2 divisions of 4 teams each play 3-game round robins. The teams are then seeded 1-4 in each division, each team matches up (so 2s play 2s, 3s play 3s, etc.) for a final tourney game and to pseudo-rank the teams 1-8.
–The Canes lost 1-0 to Detroit, won 5-4 in OT vs. Dallas and won 7-5 vs. the New York Rangers. This earned them a #2 seed. The Canes then lost 5-1 in their last game to St. Louis to finish 4th.
In my preview, I said that it would be great for the Canes to win the tourney to make a statement about the improving state of its prospect pool. But the team was without Alex Nedeljkovic who would probably have been the team’s #1 in goal and was also without Noah Hanifin who sat out recovering from an injury from the Team USA camp a few weeks ago.
When I try to summarize the Canes play, again based solely on the box scores, I get this:
1) Scoring was very heavily weighted toward the defensemen. Except for the crazy 7-5 game versus Chicago, the Canes prospects netted only 1 scoring point from a forward not named Tolchinsky in the other 3 games. The defensemen finished with 4 goals and 11 assists, Tolchinsky and Wallmark with 4 goals and 4 assists (many coming together after they were united) and the rest of the forwards netted 5 goals and 2 assists.
2) Of all of the players Haydn Fleury’s stats stand out. You can figure out from the box score that he was not on the ice for a goal against in either loss, and he led the team at plus 5 and also with 6 assists.
3) Erik Karlsson and maybe even more so Brock McGinn stand out for not getting on the score sheet. McGinn did not play in the final game*. *I traded Twitter messages with Michael Smith from the team during the day. He did not say specifically that McGinn was sitting because of injury, but he did say that he left game 3 with a banged up nose, so it reasons that he was probably and injury scratch for the last game not a coaches’ decision.
4) Wesley was minus 4 with no points and sat a game, and Ganley was -3 in 2 games with no points and sat 2 games. So based on Fleury’s performance, scoring totals and maybe most importantly who the team sat, I think for now you could rank the Canes young D prospects as:
- Tier 1: Haydn Fleury
- Tier 2: Trevor Carrick, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Roland McKeown (in no particular order).
- Tier 3: Josh Wesley, Tyler Ganly
- You would hope that Noah Hanifin climbs into that 1st tier with Fleury, but let him earn it on the ice first. The older prospects including Ryan Murphy, Rasmus Rissanen, Danny Biega and Keegan Lowe also need to be slotted once everyone is playing in the same games at the same level in preseason.
5) I think the scoring balance weighted toward the defensemen matches the general thinking all summer that the Canes are suddenly strong in terms of young prospects on defense but still very light at forward.
6) 2 players whose numbers stand out a bit raise questions. Roland McKeown was plus 2 when all of the other defensemen except Fleury were minus. McKeown paired with Fleury quite a bit, so the question that is impossible to answer without seeing the games is whether he was that good or if he benefitted from his partner. Lucas Wallmark matched Tolchinsky with 4 points, but most came playing with Tolchinsky. The question is whether the 2 clicked equally or if Tolchinsky carried that duo.
7) Trying to play hockey detective with only box scores makes me really really hope that we can get most, if not all, of the preseason games streamed on the web.
Next up we get to see all of these players plus the NHL vets and older prospects in practice starting Friday! FINALLY!