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Traverse City Tournament: Preview, Roster, Players to Watch

The Hurricanes are sending a stacked team to northern Michigan for the annual preseason prospect showcase.


After finishing third in 2017, the Carolina Hurricanes return to the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, looking to bring home the hardware that they last won in 2016. Nine players return to the prospect tournament from last year’s roster and join 14 newcomers looking to make their mark for the future on the Canes front office, and Charlotte Checkers coach Mike Vellucci, who is back behind the bench.

This year, the Traverse City tournament will welcome seven teams other than Canes, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers joining the fray. The eight teams will again be divided into two divisions, named for NHL legends Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, and play each member of their division once each, in a round-robin format. The Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup will go to the winner of the championship game between the two division winners on Tuesday, September 11.

Carolina Hurricanes 2018 Traverse City Roster

Number Player Position Acquired 17-18 Team League
Number Player Position Acquired 17-18 Team League
15 Saarela, Aleksi C Trade w/ NYR (2/16) Charlotte AHL
21 Gauthier, Julien RW Draft ‘16 (2-21-1) Charlotte AHL
24 Bean, Jake D Draft ‘16 (1-13-1) Calgary/Tri-City WHL
26 Fora, Michael D Free Agent (6/18) Ambri Swiss
37 Svechnikov, Andrei RW Draft ‘18 (1-2-1) Barrie OHL
45 Geekie, Morgan C Draft ‘17 (4-67-3) Tri-City WHL
50 Helvig, Jeremy G Draft ‘16 (8-134-5) Kingston OHL
51 Mattheos, Stelio RW Draft ‘17 (6-73-3) Brandon WHL
52 Henman, Luke C Draft ‘18 (3-96-4) Blainville-Boisbriand QMJHL
58 Roy, Nicolas C Draft ‘15 (4-96-4) Charlotte AHL
59 Kuokkanen, Janne LW/C Draft ‘16 (3-43-2) Charlotte/Carolina AHL/NHL
61 Pu, Cliff RW Trade w/ BUF (8/18) London/Kingston OHL
62 De Jong, Brendan D Draft ‘17 (7-166-6) Portland WHL
68 Bruce, Riley D Invitee North Bay OHL
78 Calvas, Theo D Invitee Sarnia OHL
81 Levin, David C Invitee Sudbury OHL
82 Eliot, Mitch D Invitee Michigan State/Sarnia Big 10/OHL
84 Grondin, Max C Invitee Saginaw OHL
85 Schlichting, Connor D Invitee Sarnia OHL
87 Struthers, Matthew C Invitee Owen Sound/North Bay OHL
88 Necas, Martin C Draft ‘17 (1-12-1) Brno/Carolina Czech/NHL
89 Ralph, Cedric C Invitee Guelph OHL
90 Culina, Mario G Invitee Sudbury/Kitchener OHL

How and When to Watch

Like last season, the Hurricanes games will be streamed on both as well as the Fox Sports app.

Carolina will again be fittingly grouped in the Gordie Howe division with the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Blues. They will play each team once within their division before pairing up across divisions in the championship round.

  • Friday, September 7: vs. St. Louis Blues, 3:30 pm
  • Saturday, September 8: vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 3:00 pm
  • Sunday, September 9: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 pm

If you are interested in watching the full tournament, you can find the entire schedule here.

Who to Watch

Each season, the Traverse City Prospects Tournament is one of the first opportunities that fans have to watch their prospect pools and future stars of their team playing together on the same roster. With many of the of the top prospects in hockey among the players participating this week, here are a few to watch:

Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov

Thans a stroke of good fortune, Svechnikov was there for the taking with the second pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, and this will be Canes fans’ first real chance to see their prized prospect in game action. He will pair up with Martin Necas and fellow first round picks Julien Gauthier and Jake Bean in Traverse City to highlight the roster.

Carolina’s deep prospect stable should be showcased in an event like this, where games come fast and furious. Svechnikov is arguably the best prospect at the event, and will be looking to show why he belongs in the Canes’ roster plans for opening night.

St. Louis Blues: Robert Thomas

Thomas is a terrific player who should have gone higher than the 20th overall pick, where he was selected in the 2017 draft. However, the rest of the league’s loss is St. Louis’ gain. The two-way sparkplug could find his way into the Blues’ lineup to start the season, but adding Ryan O’Reilly may push his timeline back a season. Either way, he’s not far away and his style of play is perfect for the Blues organization. The pairing of Thomas and dynamic winger Jordan Kyrou in Traverse City will be a combo worth tuning in for.

Chicago Blackhawks: Adam Boqvist

For prospects playing overseas, fan viewing can be few and far between at times. Traverse City will give Blackhawks fans a chance to see their young Swedish rearguard in action. The first thing you will notice about Boqvist is his skating, as he seamlessly transitions from defense to offense. As one of the youngest players in the 2018 draft, Boqvist still has plenty of room to grow, but the future is bright.

Dallas Stars: Miro Heiskanen

Simply put, Heiskanen is one of the best blueline prospects in the game. A top-five selection a year ago, the young Finn has high expectations coming into his draft plus-two season to take a step forward towards the NHL roster. After starring for HIFK in Finland last season with 32 points in 44 regular season and playoff games, Heiskanen could make his North American debut this fall.

Detroit Red Wings: Filip Zadina

Detroit had one of the league’s best draft classes in 2018, headlined by Zadina, who fell a bit down the board and into their laps at sixth overall. He will join fellow first rounders Michael Rasmussen and Dennis Cholowski for the host Red Wings. The trio will be key for the organizational turnaround that Detroit needs as they move on from their dominant teams of the 90’s and 2000’s with a new core of young talent.

New York Rangers: Filip Chytil

Chytil split time between the NHL and AHL last season, playing in nine games with the Rangers and 46 with their affiliate in Hartford. He showed well in the AHL, posting a .67 points-per-game rate in his rookie season. Alongside 2017 top-ten selection Lias Andersson, Chytil will be a huge part of the Blueshirts’ future, and their fans could see both players in the NHL in the next couple of months.