Traverse City: An In-depth NYR Preview

NYR PROSPECT CAMP

PT2014TM_mediumThe Traverse City Tournament is where up and coming prospects look to show what they’re capable of in front of the organizations’ top brass. The Rangers prospects are going to open the tournament on September 12th and conclude on September 16th.

The tournament includes prospects from the NY Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars.

What will the team look like?

This team will play a hard nosed gritty game with bits of talent mixed in. Most of the team plays physical, hard working hockey, and in my opinion the style is meant to open up ice for the guys the Rangers are really focused on; like Duclair, Haggerty, Tambellini, McCarthy, St.Croix, Walcott, Iverson, Nejezchleb, Latta, Nicholls, Mantha and Bodie.

These are the best players in the Traverse City Tournament for the Rangers and I expect them all to play to their full potential. Anthony Duclair comes into the tournament as the player to watch. Look for him to get lots of ice time and impress.

My sleepers who will show off some serious skill are; Nejezchleb and Tambellini. Watch for Walcott to make some fans as well. He has the attitude and well rounded game to warrant the attention.

As is common with many of these tournaments the potential for fisticuffs is ever present. I have a feeling with this team, as almost all of them have some “edge” in their game, that potential will increase. Keep an eye on Keegan Iverson in that department.

The Rangers have tons of right handed defensemen so it will be interesting to see the pairings and how they try to break out and defend. Offensively this group will look to make cuts to the net with their big skilled wingers off the rush. Cycling the puck down low will also be prominent as I would expect them to throw lots of pucks into the paint. The size up front will almost always mean traffic at the crease.

Below I have an assessment of each player on the team, and have highlighted the areas of their game that you should watch individually.

Forwards:

Nathan Burns- Burns is rather low on the Rangers totem pole but he has some upside. It is unlikely that he ever cracks the NHL but he could be a career AHL player. He throws some hard hits and can produce points. In his career in the WHL he has 195 points in 309 games. He is a good skater but to make an impression he will have to rely on his 6’2 frame and play physical.

Anthony Duclair- Duclair (19) is one of the better known Rangers prospects and for good reason. Duclair has amazing hands, good vision, and a deceptive shot. When you see him you will notice his lanky posture on his skates, this element helps add to his deceptive abilities. He gets the puck into shooting position quickly. Last season for the QMJHL Duclair posted99 points in only 59 games. He will be the Rangers guy to watch throughout the tournament. He is one of the few prospects in the tournament rumored to have an outside shot at making the team and is the most talented player that the Rangers have at the tournament. His criticisms are that he needs to grow into his body and be more consistent.

Ryan Haggerty- Haggerty (21) was signed last season and though he appeared on the Rangers roster he didn’t play in any pro games. Haggerty was a terrific collegiate player. With RPI he was most dangerous when he was planted atop the circle on the power play. The right-hander has a heavy shot and isn’t afraid to take his ice. His 6’0, 201 pounds frame, helps him ward off defenders to find space and tear off shots. He’s also strong on the boards and good in front of the net. The Hockey News says Haggerty needs to show he can score at the pro level because the rest of his game is just average.

Ryan Haggerty (zimbio)

Ryan Haggerty (zimbio)

Keegan Iverson- Iverson (18) is a thick forward; at 6’0 218 pounds he is a physical force. He isn’t shy to get into the dirty areas and uses his beef to win physical battles. Iverson is a center that is solid all over the ice. If he is able to up his skill level he could be a serious contender to crack the Rangers lineup in 2-3 years. Iverson will get to the front of the net and do the dirty work for his line. Fans should be excited about this guy, with his size at only 18 he will be a sleeper at this tournament. He has the potential to be a dominant force in front of the net, he also isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Iverson has said that coming to the aid of his teammates is a role he relishes. Last season in the WHL Iverson had 42 points in 67 games with the Winerhawks. Watch his game in front of the net as that seems to be the best part of his game.

Michael Kantor- Kantor (22) is a gritty forward who brings some edge to the lineup. His skill level needs to improve if he will really threaten for a roster spot. Kantor throws some heavy hits and is willing to drop the gloves. He has some sand paper in his game and his only shot at landing an NHL job would be on the 4th line. Last season in 27 games he had no points for the Wolf Pack of the AHL. I don’t expect the Rangers fan base to be crazy about Kantor considering his game is pretty average. Even as a fighter he is only middle of the pack. Watch for him to be grinding down the other teams defenders.

Nickolas Latta- Latta (20) was the captain of the Sarnia Sting of the OHL last season and in 65 games he had 38 goals and 28 assists. Latta plays a physical game and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Latta is 6’1 190 pounds and is a C/RW combo. With the Sting, Latta was mostly a center. He has solid skill and has played in some big tournaments against top flight competition. Latta is one of the guys you need to watch, he is under appreciated and has some real skill. He will have the size, skill, and hockey sense to compete at the top levels. Latta is a right handed shot and will likely be pinned on the second line at the Traverse City Tournament. Look for him to have an impact and become a serious Rangers prospect. With the Hartford Wold Pack he had a goal and an assist in 11 games. I expect him to take some big strides as a player this season.

Paxton Leroux- Leroux (21) is a fighter and not much else, his point totals have not been impressive at any level. However that doesn’t mean that he can’t become a good depth player at the AHL level. Leroux will probably not be easy to spot because he isn’t great with the puck. However his intensity can make him somewhat effective as a grinder. If he will move forward he will need to improve his defensive play. Watch for Leroux to mix it up with the opposition.

Chris McCarthy- McCarthy (23) was another sound collegiate player, with Vermont he made a name for himself posting 18 goals and 24 assists in 38 games. He’s a right-handed shot, is 6’1 and isn’t afraid to get to the front of the net. The left winger is hard to move and is strong on his skates. He has good hands and can move the puck in tight spaces. He’s a team guy and is well rounded as a player. He will have to take some strides as a player to move up the Rangers depth chart but at the moment he is one of the most well rounded players they have at this tournament. McCarthy played in 8 games for the Wolf Pack of the AHL last season and had 1 goal. Watch for McCarthy to be a complete player that gets into the right spot at the right time.

Bryan Moore- Moore (20) as an OHL player has had 91 total points in 122 games. Moore is a hard nosed RW who will make his living as a work horse. Moore is unlikely to ever crack an NHL lineup but he is still a sound depth player. His game took a few steps forward when he was traded to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season. He works hard and has some upside but I wouldn’t expect him to wow you in Traverse City. Look for him to throw his body, and dig in the corners to get pucks out to his line mates.

Richard Nejezchleb- Nejezchleb (20) is one of the best players that the Rangers have at the tournament. at 6’2 he has great size for the NHL game and he has excellent skill. The Czech winger is very difficult to contain. He is excellent with the puck, drives the net hard and controls it around the net well. He is the kind of kid that just keeps the puck under pressure, even when he gets checked. He has slick hands and draws guys to him with his speed and patience. He can also finish checks with authority. Watch out for this kid at Traverse City, he isn’t as well known but when you watch him you can see just how great he sees the ice. In the WHL he had 81 points in 101 games. You can watch some of what he can do here. Check him out around the net because he has amazing ability.

Richard Nejezchleb

Richard Nejezchleb

Logan Nelson- Nelson (20) had 54 points in 59 games last season for the Victoria Royals of the WHL. Nelson is a hard nosed forward who can really fight. He is 6’1 185 pounds and uses all of his size to finish checks. He gets to the tough areas and can surprise you with his hands. Nelson wasn’t re-signed by the Buffalo Sabres. The former 5th round pick has shown that he can become a pro but he just doesn’t have that “wow” factor in his game that will make him demand attention. You could check out his you tube profile here. Watch him for his work ethic, and grinding style.

Josh Nicholls- Nicholls (22) has some amazing skills and can light the lamp to say the least. However there is an Erik Christensen kind of feel to him – tons of talent, little consistency against better competition. With the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL last season he had 47 goals and 38 assists in just 71 games. He did play in 6 games with the Wolf Pack of the AHL but wasn’t able to put up any points. His Hockey’s Future profile suggests that he is a well rounded player but needs to add some size and I agree with this assessment. I expect him to be streaky during the Traverse City Tournament. If he plays to his full potential he can work his way into the Rangers top prospects. Watch his hands and head in the offensive zone, he has some real skill and can look off defenders to create offense.

Josh Nicholls (OHL)

Josh Nicholls (WHL)

Michael St. Croix- St.Croix (21) Is a versatile scoring forward. He has great skill and can find people open all over the ice. He is small at 5’11 176 pounds and will remind you of P.A. Parenteau. He can create space and get loose of defenders, but he struggles in the harder areas of the ice. His overall game is sound and he is also good on the power play. He lines up at the top of the circle and is good at getting his shot off quickly. In his career in the WHL he notched 320 points in 280 games. St.Croix has played 13 games for the Wolf Pack of the AHL in his career but hasn’t recorded any points. Watch him for his quick speedy creative style.

Adam Tambellini- Tambellini (19) has amazing talent and the potential to crack an NHL top 6 if he continues to develop. Tambellini has terrific hands and a rifle of a shot. He uses his 6’3 frame to protect the puck and find his teammates. Tambellini does need to add some muscle as he is only 168 pounds. He is solid around the net and shows great patience with the puck. He has good foot speed, but needs to work on his explosiveness. He’s a solid set up man because he is good at drawing people to him and then finding a lane. Look for Tambellini to jump out at you in the tournament. His size and natural talent make him very dangerous. I could see him potting some big goals and raising eyebrows within the Rangers organization. Last season in the WHL he posted 39 points in 31 games. Look out for him in the offensive zone and at the defensive blue line because he cam make something out of nothing.

Adam Tambellini (NHL)

Adam Tambellini (NHL)

Defensemen:

Mat Bodie- Bodie (24) was a defenseman in the NCAA for 4 seasons playing with Union College and leading them to one championship as captain during his senior year. Bodie is a heart and soul player. He is a good skater and is considered an offensive defenseman with plus of being left-handed. In his senior year he had 8 goals and 31 assists in 40 games. Bodie is also aggressive and plays with some bite in his game. Bodie will try to jump plays in the neutral zone and if he misses, he has the ability to make it back to his own net. Watch for him to try to control the game. Bodie needs to prove that he can shed the fore-check, control the pace and lead a younger group of defensemen.

Mat Bodie (Photo: Robert Dungan)

Mat Bodie (Photo: Robert Dungan)

Troy Donnay- Donnay (20) is a big right handed defenseman at 6’7 185 pounds. He has great reach and is a good skater for his size. Donnay is a gritty defender that will drop the gloves, throw hits, and is one of the first guys to stand up for his teammates. He had only 19 points in 66 games in the OHL last season, but his value comes more from his grit and defensive play. Donnay will not wow anyone with skill but if he shows off his physicality he can move up the Rangers depth chart. Watch for him to play a brute force style of defense.

Ryan Mantha- Mantha (18) was picked fourth at this past NHL draft and with his tools he can be one of the Rangers best prospects. At 6’4 225 pounds he has great size. He is a stay at home, right handed defender who can move the puck to his forwards well. Eliteprospects.com says that he needs to improve his skating and become more physical to be successful. I expect Mantha to make a strong impression at the Traverse City Tournament. He  won’t wow you with skill but he will show his ability to be strong and consistent. Watch him for his positioning and poise.

Ryan Mantha (Photo: Dan Hickling)

Ryan Mantha (Photo: Dan Hickling)

Sam Noreau- Noreau (21) is another large right handed defenseman that is known for his hard nosed style. Noreau is tough and is more than willing to drop the gloves. He is 6’5 and weighs in at 209 pounds. Noreau plays physical and clears the front of the net. The rest of his game however needs improvement. His skating, passing, and overall hockey sense needs to take a step forward for him to be a serious contender to crack an NHL lineup. Watch for him to be the first guy into scrums and looking to throw his body.

Dallas Valentine- Valentine (18) is another big right handed stay at home defenseman at 6’3 194 pounds. Reports suggest that he is at his best when you don’t notice that he’s on the ice. He isn’t the type to jump up into the offense and doesn’t keep the puck on his stick too long. Look for him to do more of the same at Traverse City. He will probably be in a somewhat limited role so he won’t be trying to show off, he will stick to his guns and do what he does best which is clear the puck. Last season Valentine had 14 points in 69 games in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Daniel Walcott- Walcott (19) has the most upside of any of the defensemen at the tournament for the Rangers. He is a good skater and can move the puck extremely well. He also isn’t afraid to step up and throw big hits.  He has a physical edge to his game and is one of the few left-handed prospects on defense the Rangers have. Last year was his first year in the QMJHL, he played with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, in 67 games he posted 39 points (10 goals 29 assists) along with 71 penalty minutes. Walcott played a big role and as another right handed defender he could make a name for himself at Traverse City. He should be able to find some room and move the puck to the forwards. He is one of the few defenders that the Rangers have at the tournament that is a well rounded puck mover. Watch him in his own end, he wants to be the best player on the team and isn’t afraid to try to take over. I expect him to be the best defender for the Rangers at the tournament.

Daniel Walcott (Getty Images / Bruce Bennett)

Daniel Walcott (Getty Images / Bruce Bennett)

Petr Zamorsky- Zamorsky (22) is an interesting player because he has some nice international credentials. He was named best defensemen in the Czech Extraliga last year and has been a part of several Czech Tournament Teams. Zamorsky is a decent puck mover and tries to play a very physical game. He is a good skater and plays bigger than his 5’11 190 pound frame. I think he will struggle in this tournament simply because he is so used to international ice. I could see his over aggressive style leading to some blown coverages. Watch for him to try and throw enormous hits at the blue line.

Goaltenders

Brandon Halverson- Halverson (18) has some great skill in the net. He plays a butterfly and is a terrific puck mover as a goalie. He has the ability to help break a forecheck by moving the puck crisply to defenders. Halverson is tall at 6’3 and he is also skinny at 176 pounds, but this allows him to be athletic in the crease. So far, Halverson was only a backup for the Grey Hounds in the OHL, however he is expected to be the starter in the upcoming season. I expect him to be terrific in the Traverse City Tournament and show that he is ready play as a starter in the OHL and take a step forward as a goaltender. In 19 games in the OHL, he posted a 2.96 GAA and a 904 Save %. Watch for him to move the puck and also watch how he plays his style in net.

Brandon Halverson  (Photo: Dan Hickling)

Brandon Halverson (Photo: Dan Hickling)

Mackenzie Skapski- Skapski (20) is a butterfly goaltender that moves well in his crease and gets down quickly. He has a good glove hand and battles well through traffic. He goes post to post very well, but often times slides a bit too far. At 6’3 he takes up plenty of net. His puck handling isn’t as good as Halverson but he has more seasoning as a goaltender. In 53 games in the WHL last season he recorded a 2.70 GAA and a 916 Save %. Watch his glove hand and his pad movement.

Overall the tournament should be great fun to watch and I think that the fans will be pleasantly surprised by this group of kids.

Here is the full roster and schedule as per Blueshirts United:

PLAYER HEIGHT WEIGHT SHOOTS PLACE OF BIRTH BIRTHDATE
FORWARDS:
Burns, Nathan 6’2” 174 Left Edmonton, Alberta 7/15/93
Duclair, Anthony 5’11” 185 Left Pointe-Claire, Quebec 8/26/95
Haggerty, Ryan 6’0” 200 Right Stamford, Connecticut 3/4/93
Iverson, Keegan 6’0” 219 Right St. Louis Park, Minnesota 4/5/96
Kantor, Michael 6’1” 196 Right New York, New York 2/2/92
Latta, Nickolas 6’1” 194 Right Peiting, Germany 10/5/93
Leroux, Paxton 6’3” 200 Left Peterborough, Ontario 2/22/93
McCarthy, Chris 6’1” 190 Right Collegeville, Pennsylvania 7/30/91
Moore, Bryan 6’0” 198 Left Matthews, North Carolina 5/25/94
Nejezchleb, Richard 6’2” 203 Left Prague, Czech Republic 5/2/94
Nelson, Logan 6’1” 185 Right Rogers, Minnesota 9/9/93
Nicholls, Josh 6’2” 189 Right Richmond, British Columbia 4/27/92
St. Croix, Michael 5’11” 180 Right Winnipeg, Manitoba 4/10/93
Tambellini, Adam 6’2” 179 Left Port Moody, British Columbia 11/1/94
PLAYER HEIGHT WEIGHT SHOOTS PLACE OF BIRTH BIRTHDATE
DEFENSEMEN:
Bodie, Mat 6’0” 175 Left East St. Paul, Manitoba 3/7/90
Donnay, Troy 6’7” 185 Right Fenton, Michigan 2/18/94
Mantha, Ryan 6’4” 225 Right Clarkson, Michigan 6/18/96
Noreau, Sam 6’5” 227 Right Montreal, Quebec 1/31/93
Valentine, Dallas 6’3” 195 Right Lousana, Alberta 5/28/96
Walcott, Daniel 5’11” 161 Left Ile Perrot, Quebec 2/19/94
Zamorsky, Petr 6’0” 190 Right Zlin, Czech Republic 8/3/92
PLAYER HEIGHT WEIGHT CATCHES PLACE OF BIRTH BIRTHDATE
GOALTENDERS:
Halverson, Brandon 6’3” 176 Left Traverse City, Michigan 3/29/96
Skapski, Mackenzie 6’3” 191 Left Abbotsford, British Columbia 6/15/94

2014 Traverse City Prospects Tournament

Rangers Schedule

Day Date Opponent Location Time
Friday Sept.12 Dallas Davids Rink 7:00 PM
Saturday Sept.13 Buffalo Davids Rink 7:00 PM
Monday Sept.15 Carolina Davids Rink 6:30 PM
Tuesday Sept.16 Placement Game TBD TBD