The 2011 Traverse City Prospects Tournament ended tonight as the Rangers lost 5-2 to the Buffalo Sabres in the championship game. It would have been nice to win, but in the long run the results don’t matter. It was a good opportunity for a group of prospects from an array of teams and leagues to get together and build some chemistry, as well as a chance to show scouts and coaches how much they’ve improved over the summer. One thing I want to look at is which prospects raised their stock and which ones might have slipped a bit.
Guys like Carl Hagelin and Tim Erixon were very good, but we expected as much. I’m looking to bring attention to guys who went above and beyond expectations.
Ryan Bourque- Bourque was one of the bigger names on the roster, but he really played at a level I don’t think anyone assumed he was going to. Bourque led the team in scoring and was quality in all three zones. Outside of injury concerns, one of the biggest questions about Bourque is if he can add enough offense to earn a spot in the NHL. He certainly showed the ability to put the puck in the net this week. I think Bourque is going to get a much closer look in training camp than originally expected.
Shane McColgan- He had a quiet first game but was one of the best players on the ice the rest of the way. McColgan received a lot of criticism for not showing much improvement in his development last season, so getting off to a strong start is a good thing for him. He’s very strong on his skates which is a necessary attribute for smaller guys to have if they want to make it in the NHL.
Blake Parlett- Those who watched the Connecticut Whale last season knew what kind of ability Parlett has, but he really put himself on the radar with his performance at Traverse City. Parlett distributed the puck very well and racked up a bunch of assists. I compared him to Gilroy offensively in an earlier post, but one thing Parlett displayed that Gilroy lacks is physicality. He was not afraid throw his body around in the corners and in the slot. He had a few bad turnovers tonight but other than that had a very good tournament. I have to think he’ll get a long look in training camp and into the pre-season as well.
Johnathan Audy-Marchessault- JAM was signed to an AHL contract out of the QMJHL in June, so this was his first time participating in any Ranger-related activities. He scored a couple of goals and showed some very nice playmaking ability. A strong AHL season could earn him an NHL contract next offseason.
Tommy Grant- Grant was another undrafted free agent signing, and I think he quietly had a very nice tournament. He was responsible defensively and was very effective on the forecheck. His upside is very limited but I think he has a decent chance of becoming an effective 4th liner at the NHL level.
Who Left Something To Be Desired
Jyri Niemi- Niemi wasn’t necessarily bad, but he’s now 21 years old and with a year of AHL hockey under his belt you would hope that he would be playing at a level above the younger guys. He’s been passed by Parlett on the depth chart in my opinion, and that doesn’t bode well for his future in the NHL. Hopefully this was just a bad week and he has a strong training camp.
Michael St. Croix- A 4th round pick of the 2011 draft, for a guy who was hyped by a lot of fans and called a “steal” he surely didn’t stand out. In fact, other than a very good defensive play tonight I hardly remember him doing anything of note. I know he is a project and is only 18 but McColgan is at the same stage of development and showed a lot more promise. I’m not dismissing him as a project because of a five day tournament but I’m also not buying the hype he’s immediately received.
Peter Ceresnak- Again, he is young and just recently drafted so I’m not denying his potential to be an NHL player, but I was not impressed. Fellow 2011 late round pick and defenseman Samuel Noreau is of similar build and was more impressive. Ceresnak needs to work on his skating to even have a sniff of the NHL. He got burned on multiple occasions and was slow to the puck. If there’s one coach in the NHL who has no use for immobile defensemen, it’s John Tortorella. He has time on his side, however, so a dramatic improvement could be reasonable.
Topics: Blake Parlett, Johnathan Audy-Marchessault, Jyri Niemi, Michael St. Croix, New York Rangers, Peter Ceresnak, Rangers, Ryan Bourque, Shane Mccolgan, Tommy Grant, Traverse City, Traverse City Prospects Tournament