First, if you are checking in after being busy all day Friday trying to get to the weekend, please check out the launch of the 2nd round of the bracket event.  Voting started this morning and will run through next Wednesday.

Yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the roster for the upcoming Traverse City prospect tourney.  You can read the team’s article and also find a link to the official roster HERE.

The event is mostly designed for younger prospects, so it primarily features players in the 18-22 year old range and mostly excludes players with a decent amount of AHL and/or NHL experience.  So the teams should be a fairly comparable group of players in that age range for all of the teams.  While it is mostly about development, it does provide some sort of measuring stick against other teams’ prospects.

When I think about the event, four things come to mind:

1) Mark Morris round 2.  This will be Charlotte coach Mark Morris’ 2nd short bit of time with many of these players.  (The 1st was the 1-week rookie camp in July.)  It is an important time for him to continue his assessment of these young players and start to figure out and even do work with them to move them closer to the NHL level.  Especially with the players likely to return to Canadian juniors this season, it is an important touch point that will contribute to the productiveness of their 2015-16 season in terms of development.  It will also add more information for Morris to figure out what these players need to work on in training camp and in Charlotte for many.  I wrote a blog here that placed Morris in a key role in the Canes future as the primary handler of the suddenly deep bench of Canes blue line prospects.

2) Why not make a statement and win it.  For the most part, the players are just coming together for a week to just play, so there is not a ton of preparation, implementation of systems or sorting out chemistry to get the best of line combinations.  As such, it is probably not fair to put too much into who wins the tourney.  But the Canes are suddenly being rated much higher in terms of future prospects.  And the jump in the rankings is completely due to the youngest prospects recently added and mostly in the age range for this tournament.  Most of the Canes highest rated prospects on defense will be there.  They are supposed to be pretty good.  They are keeping score, and it is set up like a tournament.  Why not make a statement and win it?

3) Time to rise up.  For the Canes, this tourney has a history of being a spring board for players complete off the depth chart to build momentum heading into the NHL training camp and ultimately surprise everyone and win an NHL roster spot.  Josef Vasicek was the 1st to do this years ago.  Last summer Victor Rask did the same.  The Canes have at least 1 if not 2 openings at forward.  Could Traverse City deliver the next young forward to rise up to the NHL ahead of schedule?

4) Pecking order on defense.  The Canes suddenly have literally 10 young defensemen with promise.  Only Trevor Carrick has played at the AHL level. So with the collection being different ages and coming from leagues of different calibers, it is hard to say exactly where any are in general in development or also where they are relatively speaking compared to each other.  This tourney is the 1st (training camp and later the AHL season) opportunity to measure where these players stand in relative to each other and therefore rework the depth chart a bit.

I am mostly taking the weekend off to catch my breath, take a couple days off for writing and spend time with my family, but I already have mostly completed drafts of a couple “Daily Cup of Joe” posts to keep the streak alive without doing any work. 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

Go Canes!

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