Every year at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, Detroit Red Wings fans are enamored with the limelight-type prospects (i.e. Nate Danielson, Elmer Soderblom, William Wallinder). But along with these kinds of prospects come the invitees that look to stick out to the organizations involved in the tournament. Last year that invitee was forward Riley Piercey who was invited after spending the 2021-22 season with the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He was able to catch the eyes of fans and the Red Wings organization by putting up five goals in three games.
With the rosters and schedule being released for the 2023 tournament, what camp invitees could be this year’s Piercey?
Israel Mianscum, Forward
After being ranked as the 202nd North American skater in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings leading up to the 2021 Draft, Israel Mianscum went undrafted. The 20-year-old has spent the last four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. He was able to break out in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons putting up 41 and 61 points respectively. Known as a player with a good one-timer, he could stick out and prove to teams and fans that he was overlooked in the draft.
Connor Punnett, Defenseman
In his draft year of 2021, Connor Punnett finished the season ranked as the 148th North American skater, but like Mianscum, went undrafted. He has spent the past two seasons with the Barrie Colts in the OHL. He made a big jump production-wise from the 2021-22 season to last season, going from 11 points to 48 points. He also brings an edge to his game, having totaled 109 penalty minutes last season.
Punnett is another player that if given the chance in Traverse City could make some noise, quite literally with his physical game.
Nic Sima, Forward
After being ranked as the 133rd North American skater in the midterm rankings for 2023, Nic Sima was traded from the North Bay Battalion to the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He eventually slid out of the rankings by year’s end and went undrafted in the 2023 Draft.
Overall in 2022-23, he put up a total of 10 goals, 17 assists and 27 points in 61 games between North Bay and Saginaw.
Latest News & Highlights
Sima is seen as athletic and possesses size at 6-foot-7 and is an all-around player whose game is more focused on the defensive end of the ice. If he is given the opportunity, he could show off his defensive skill, flash his athleticism in the tournament, and prove to teams that he should have indeed been drafted.
Lukas Matecha, Goaltender
Another 18-year-old player, Lukas Matecha finished the 2022-23 season ranked as the fifth overall international goalie. Many believed he would be drafted at some point, but was passed up by teams and went undrafted. He has spent the last five seasons in the HC Dynamo Pardubice organization, working his way up to the U20 team for the 2022-23 season.
In 32 games with the U20 team, he was able to record a 14-18 record with a 2.54 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%). For the 2023-24 season, he will be making the jump to the Western Hockey League (WHL) and playing for the Tri-City Americans.
If given the opportunity in the tournament, Matecha could prove why he was the fifth-ranked international goalie and why he should have been drafted this year.
Overall these four players, mixed in with the other invitees by the Red Wings and the other three teams in the tournament, will be looking to make a statement and stick out for the organizations and fans in Traverse City.