Welcome back to the Futures mailbag, where prospects and the draft are always in the spotlight. We’re getting into real games these days and the All-American Prospects Game hits Buffalo next Thursday, so we can officially say it’s hockey season. Remember: if you have a question you would like answered, hit up my Twitter page (@THNRyanKennedy) and tag your query with the hashtag #thnfutures. Let’s get to it:
The Toronto Maple Leafs have stockpiled veterans on tryout contracts for the upcoming season, but now you can add another well-known name via trade: Michael Grabner. The New York Islanders unloaded the speedy Austrian on the Leafs in exchange for prospects Matt Finn, Carter Verhaeghe, Chris Gibson, Taylor Beck and Tom Nilsson.
So what’s up with this trade?
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Another tourney is in the books, as the Columbus Blue Jackets defending their Traverse City prospects tournament title with a 5-2 win over the home team Detroit Red Wings. There was a lot of talent again this year, so I’ve put together mini scouting reports on many of the big names, plus others who caught my eye.
I was at two days of games, watching double-headers that were staggered between two rinks in the same building. So I saw more of some teams than others, though I tried to keep it even. If you don’t see your fave player here, it’s because he didn’t catch me eye enough – which is not to say he didn’t play well, but rather that there were a lot of prospects in play and I wouldn’t want to pretend to see more than I did.
Also, some teams had a lot of free agents on their squads since NCAA players couldn’t participate due to eligibility issues and some teams don’t have deep prospect pools right now. Chicago and the Rangers – both in contender mode right now – are two examples. They fought for last place, so we’ll start with them and work our way up to the champs.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – This time last year, there was a real possibility Anthony Mantha would be one of the few players who would make the jump to the Detroit Red Wings out of junior hockey. Now nobody’s sure if that jump will even take place this season.
None of this should come as a surprise. The Red Wings have always preferred to let their prospects over-ripen in the American League and it’s a philosophy that has served them well. No team has produced NHL-ready prospects out of the minors the way the Red Wings have over the past decade. Even when the prospect is a tantalizing 6-foot-5 and has a sublime skill level and a nose for the net, these things take time.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – When it comes to prospects in St. Louis, the names that immediately leap to mind are Robby Fabbri, Ivan Barbashev and Jordan Schmaltz – and rightly so; those are all great players. But there’s another youngster to watch out for and his name is Colton Parayko.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – The here and now is going to be painful for Carolina Hurricanes fans. But the future? Much, much brighter. GM Ron Francis and his staff have very quickly built one of the most impressive cadres of blueliners in their prospect pipeline and at least one of those players will likely suit up in Raleigh this season.
Fans in Penticton, B.C., hoping to get a glimpse of Connor McDavid in the Oilers’ Young Stars tournament finale are going to be disappointed, as Edmonton has announced the 2015 first-overall selection won’t be in the lineup to take on the Winnipeg Jets Monday afternoon.
For McDavid, it will be the second consecutive Young Stars game he has been held out of. He suited up for the Oilers’ tournament-opening contest against the Vancouver Canucks prospects and notched one goal and an assist, but he was held out of Edmonton’s second contest, a game against provincial rival Calgary.
According to Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, it wasn’t anything that has happened in the tournament that will keep McDavid out. Rather, it was a choice Chiarelli made due to the amount of games McDavid is likely to suit up for this season. Read more
The hockey season officially got underway Thursday night with Shawinigan stomping Rimouski 7-2 in the QMJHL. My first road trip of the year is this weekend as well, as I head out to the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan. Hosted by the Detroit Red Wings, the shindig involves youngsters and hopefuls for eight NHL teams – Detroit, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Carolina, Minnesota, Columbus and the Rangers. You’ll find questions involving a couple of those teams below.
And as always, if you have a question you’d like to see answered, go to my Twitter page (@THNRyanKennedy) and use the hashtag #thnfutures. Let’s get to your queries: