On Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the roster that would compete in the 2018 Traverse City prospects tourney in September. The full roster can be found HERE.
The first thing that jumps out when looking at the roster is how many players are not actually Carolina Hurricanes prospects. Nine of the 21 players who will put on a Hurricanes uniform are not actually drafted prospects. That is because so many of the Hurricanes prospects are playing either in the NCAA or Europe and therefore unable to participate. Both groups are already starting their respective seasons. From the past two drafts (the primary age range for this tourney), the Hurricanes have five draftees who will be starting up in Europe in September and three more who will be starting classes in the NCAA ranks. That does not even count Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov who will be playing.
In addition, the Hurricanes also have three NCAA draftees from the 2016 draft class and two more from the 2015 draft class who might also participate if able.
A strong forward group
The result is a top-heavy roster. Maybe only because the team is short on players, Nicolas Roy, Janne Kuokkanen, Aleksi Saarela and Julien Gauthier who played in the AHL last year are returning. Combined with Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas, that gives the team a ton of fire power to build out a couple of scoring lines. Kuokannen/Roy/Gauthier saw some time together in the AHL and could be reunited. Saarela could be a good fit with Necas and Svechnikov. That still leaves Morgan Geekie, Stelio Mattheos, Cliff Pu and Luke Henman from the Hurricanes prospect pool.
At least on paper, the Hurricanes should be able to score in bunches.
A depleted blue line
With the Hurricanes lighter on the blue line and missing Adam Fox and Luke Martin who are playing college hockey and also Ville Rasanen and Jesper Sellgren who are in Europe, the blue line features only three prospects to go with four invitees.
Jake Bean figures to lead the group and quite possibly be paired with prospect newcomer Michael Fora.
Jeremy Helvig should be the work horse aiming to use the tourney as a spring board into the beginning of his professional career after closing out his junior career in strong fashion in 2017-18.
What I will be watching
A level above
Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov — If the duo are NHL-ready are expected, they should dominate in this tourney against a younger group, many of whom will never play in the NHL.
Jake Bean — As a first-rounder making his third appearance in this tournament on the way to being a rookie in the AHL, Bean is another who should hopefully rise above this level of competition.
Michael Fora — The tournament will also offer an early look on a couple new prospects. As a slightly older prospect signed as a free agent and with international experience, it will be interesting to see if Fora plays his way above this group.
Cliff Pu — As the newest to join the Hurricanes’ prospect ranks, Traverse City will offer the first look at Pu in a Canes sweater.
Luke Henman — Finally, playing against real competition will offer an interesting look at 2018 draftee Henman. He will need to add weight to his 150-pound frame on his potential path to the NHL, but obviously the team liked his potential when it drafted him in the third round.
A chance to impress
Because the Hurricanes are so light on prospects who can play in Traverse City, there will be plenty of ice time for the invitees. For them, this tournament represents a chance to impress the Hurricanes organization or others and win an NHL or at least an AHL contract down the road.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Aside from headliner Andrei Svechnikov, which newcomer are you most looking forward to seeing out of Fora, Pu, and Henman?
2) Of the players returning to Traverse City, who do you think has the most to gain from a strong tourney?