The Columbus Blue Jackets come into this year’s Prospects Tournament with one thing on their mind. That one thing is to win the tournament, again.
A Singular Focus
If they accomplish this feat, that would mark their third straight championship in Traverse City. Given the way the rosters look for each team, the chances of a third straight championship for Columbus are strong. They have arguably the two best prospects in the tournament playing for them.
We’re here to get you ready for the week to come in Traverse City. Who did the Blue Jackets bring to the tournament? Who did their opponents bring? When are the games? Can you watch the games? We have all the answers for you.
The Blue Jackets Roster
Let’s take a look at the defending champion Blue Jackets. They bring in a roster easily capable of winning this tournament. They are led up front by 2016 third-overall pick Pierre-Luc Dubois. Expect him to play on the top line along with 2014 first-round pick Sonny Milano and 2016 third-round pick Vitaly Abramov. This is a phenomenal top-line for a prospects tournament. The Blue Jackets will depend on them to lead the way.
There are other interesting names to watch for the Blue Jackets. Their 2015 second-round pick Paul Bittner will play in his first full pro season (he played 2 games in 2015-16) since recovering from hip surgery. Many considered him a first-round pick but slipped to the second and Columbus took advantage. If practice lines are used in the games, he is expected to play with another interesting player in Dante Salituro. The Blue Jackets signed Salituro to an entry-level contract this summer after back-to-back impressive performances at development camp. He scored 37 and 38 goals in his last two seasons in the OHL.
— CBJ Prospects (@CBJProspects) September 15, 2016
Two other forwards to watch are Kole Sherwood and Keegan Kolesar. Sherwood played last season on the Memorial Cup champion London Knights. Due to the Knights depth, he found himself on the bench most nights. He is expected to do big things in London this season. Kolesar completed a monster season for the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds by scoring 30 goals in 64 games while adding seven more in the playoffs in 16 games. Kolesar also added 107 penalty minutes. He can score and drop the gloves. He’ll quickly become a Blue Jackets fan favorite.
We’re also excited to see how the new OHL players do. Jordan Maletta and Justin Scott will each play key minutes in this tournament, most likely with current Monsters player Nick Moutrey. Maletta and Scott will likely start this season in Cleveland.
The Blue Jackets defense will go a long way in determining the team’s success at this tournament. They’re led by arguably the best defensive prospect not in the NHL in Zach Werenski. Werenski was a major part of the Monsters’ Calder Cup run, leading all defensemen in scoring. He was just 18 at the time. His upside is sky-high.
Joining Werenski on the blue line are current Blue Jackets prospects Dillon Heatherington, Blake Siebenaler, Sam Ruopp, Markus Nutivaara, and Jacob Graves. The Blue Jackets have also brought in Frank Hora and Stephen Gibson.
If the Blue Jackets hope to continue their success, the play of their bottom-four defensemen is key, especially given the goalies on the roster. If they can play steady and not make the big mistake, the Blue Jackets should find sustained success.
— CBJ Prospects (@CBJProspects) September 15, 2016
Thanks to their current goaltending situation, the Blue Jackets had to bring in a pair of free-agent invitees to fill the net. Jeremy Brodeur and Lucas Peressini will man the Blue Jackets net. Jeremy is the son of former Devils goalie, Martin Brodeur.
This is an interesting situation to keep your eye on. This is not the first time Brodeur has participated with the Blue Jackets. If he shines in this tournament, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Blue Jackets try to sign him to a contract.
The Opponent’s Rosters
The beauty of this tournament is the overall talent of the prospects playing here. Want to know who the opposition has brought with them to play? Click on the links for the team.
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Dallas Stars
- Detroit Red Wings
- Minnesota Wild
- New York Rangers
- St. Louis Blues
The Blue Jackets Schedule
All the action in Traverse City starts Friday night as the Blue Jackets play the host Red Wings at 7:30pm. They follow-up and play the next night against the Blues also at 7:30pm. After an off-day on Sunday, the Blue Jackets play the Blackhawks at 3:30pm. Then depending on how the games go, the Blue Jackets will play a game on Tuesday. The opponent and time will be determined based on how the standings finish. The two division winners play in the championship on Tuesday, while second place plays second place, and so on.
Can You Watch The Games?
Yes!!! For the first time in the history of the Traverse City tournament, all games are available for viewing. The Detroit Red Wings are streaming ALL games of the tournament online. Here is a link to the Red Wings website. From there, a link to the games is available.
You can watch *ALL* #CBJ games in Traverse City via:
1. FOX Sports GO (requires cable subscription)
2. Red Wings' site (link to come)
— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) September 16, 2016
These types of tournaments are hard to predict. In my mind, I go with who has the best talent. Given Dubois and Werenski, I have to pick Columbus to win this. A win here would cap an incredible, recent run of prospects play. That would mark their third straight championship here, adding to their Calder Cup win this past June.
We end this by honoring Matthew Wuest. He was the founder of Cap Geek who unfortunately lost his battle with colon cancer. As a result of his achievements, the Red Wings renamed the trophy the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup. His humility was a blessing to all who knew him. His contributions have helped shape the current landscape of hockey. For that, we are all forever grateful for his life.