New Charlotte Checkers coach Mark Morris will get his first taste behind the bench as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, coaching a 22-player team at the annual NHL Prospects Tournament from Sept. 11-15 in Traverse City, Mich.
The team features 15 Hurricanes draft picks, including first rounders Noah Hanifin and Haydn Fleury, and free agent signees Sergey Tolchinksy and Rasmus Tirronen. It’s no surprise that the team will be led by its defense. Along with Hanifin and Fleury, the seven-player group also boasts prospects Brett Pesce, Trevor Carrick, Roland McKeown, Jaccob Slavin and Josh Wesley.
Up front, the team will be led by the dynamic Tolchinky and hard-hitting Brock McGinn on the wings. Also at forward are 2014-15 Checkers Phil Di Giuseppe and Carter Sandlak, and prospects Clark Bishop, Erik Karlsson, Steven Lorentz, Nicolas Roy, Spencer Smallman and Lucas Wallmark. Checkers signee Matt Willows will also be in Traverse City, along with invitees Chris Marchese and Niki Petti. Joining Tirronen in goal is 2015 third-round pick Callum Booth.
Some things to consider heading into the tournament:
• Last year, Victor Rask propelled himself into the Hurricanes roster conversation with a dominant tournament. Could another forward do that this season? Tolchinsky and McGinn will both be playing in their third Prospects Tournament for Carolina, and the duo could be competing for a roster spot with the Canes throughout September and early October.
• The same is true on defense, where Hanifin will look to prove he's ready to be an NHLer at 18. But the competition will be tough starting in Traverse City. Fleury will certainly be pushing for a chance to make the Hurricanes, while Carrick already has a successful pro season under his belt and Pesce boasts three years of college experience.
• Speaking of Fleury, will he and McKeown be reunited as a pairing? The duo has played together frequently for Canada in international competition, so keeping them paired up could not only benefit the team, but both players.
• Three players not under contract or drafted by Carolina were invited to the tournament: former New Hampshire forward and Checkers signee Willows, and former OHL forwards Marchese and Petti.
Here is the release from the team. You can view the full roster here.
‘CANES TO RETURN TO TRAVERSE CITY ROOKIE TOURNEY
Hanifin, Fleury among 19 Carolina draft selections/acquisitions set to compete
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced the team’s roster for the 2015 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, MI. The tournament is hosted annually by the Detroit Red Wings and will take place Sept. 11-15. The Hurricanes’ squad won the tournament in 2009.
Mark Morris, head coach of Carolina’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, will coach the Hurricanes’ team alongside Charlotte assistant coach Geordie Kinnear. Teams will be comprised of drafted players and signees from each of the eight participating NHL clubs, as well as amateur tryout invitees. A limited number of players with prior professional experience, but in no case more than one full season, are eligible to compete.
The Hurricanes’ squad for the 2015 tournament is comprised of 15 players drafted by Carolina, including first-round draft picks Haydn Fleury (2014 – 7th overall) and Noah Hanifin (2015 – 5th overall), second round picks Phil Di Giuseppe (2012 – 38th overall) and Brock McGinn (2012 – 47th overall), and third-round pick Brett Pesce (2013 – 66th overall). Joining the team’s drafted players are forwards Carter Sandlak and Sergey Tolchinsky, as well as goaltender Rasmus Tirronen, each of whom signed with Carolina as free agents. Also, former Los Angeles Kings second-round pick, defenseman Roland McKeown, will suit up for the Hurricanes after Carolina acquired him via trade in February. Three tryout invitees round out the roster.
The Hurricanes will open tournament play on Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m., against tournament host Detroit. Carolina will then take on Dallas at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, before finishing round-robin play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. Once the eight teams have finished round-robin play in two groups, each team will play a final game on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to determine final tournament ranking. All games will take place at Centre Ice Arena, the training camp home of the Red Wings. Click here for more information on the 2015 NHL Prospects Tournament.