The 18th annual NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan took place this weekend, with games kicking off on Friday afternoon and finishing up tonight. The tourney featured eight teams, split into two divisions of four teams each playing in a round robin, followed by a series of games today between corresponding finishers in each division.
The field included the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and host Detroit Red Wings in the “Gordie Howe Division” and the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, and New York Rangers in the “Ted Lindsay Division”. Each team came in locked and loaded with their top prospects, as teams got the opportunity to evaluate their young talent and the players looked to impress and make a push for a shot at an NHL role.
Playing in the 7th-place game this afternoon were the Wild and Blackhawks. Minnesota went 0-3 in divisional play, while Chicago was able to pick up one win en route to a 1-2 record. However, when the teams met head-to-head, the Wild were able to finally get a “W” with a 2-1 result. The 5th-place game featured the Blues and Stars, with Dallas taking it by a convincing 5-3 score. The Stars just missed out on finishing second in their division, losing earlier in the tournament in overtime to the Rangers to fall to 1-1-1. They proved to be too much for the 1-2 St. Louis squad though and can be satisfied with a 5th-place finish.
The 3rd-place game that ended earlier tonight was between the top prospects for the Rangers and Blue Jackets, two teams who played well in the divisional round with 2-0-1 and 2-1 records respectively. The Jackets came out on top in the end, with a 6-4 win, continuing a strong offensive performance in the tournament. However, they did see their two-year championship run in Traverse City come to an end. While the Rangers couldn’t find victory, they have to be happy with the strong play of free agent phenomenon Jimmy Vesey. Finally, the tournament finale came down to the hometown Red Wings and a stacked Hurricanes team. Carolina had dominated their opponents all weekend and came into the 1st-place game undefeated and nearly unstoppable, and their luck did not change. Led by 2016 1st-rounders Julien Gauthier and Jake Bean, the Hurricanes took the title by a score of 6-4 over the 2-1 Detroit team and the best efforts of Tyler Bertuzzi.
The teams will all now head home and re-group, as they get ready for training camp and a handful of the tournament’s best players prepare for their first taste of NHL action.