Before the tournament begins, here are five things to watch for.
STARRING SOPHOMORESThe Traverse City tournament is generally a place for younger prospects to showcase themselves and for NHL teams to get a look at how their pipeline stacks up down the road. Sometimes though, more experienced players are added to the mix to flesh out the squad. Notably on this year’s team are Nicolas Roy and Julien Gauthier. The duo are coming off of solid rookie seasons in Charlotte, one filled with the ups and downs associated with making the leap to the pro game. But what both players possessed in their first season was a strong physical presence playing amongst men in the American League. Now heading back to Traverse for the second straight year, Roy and Gauthier should be poised to dominate a tournament filled with younger prospects. Look for the two to really flex their muscles throughout the tournament and build up some momentum heading into their sophomore seasons.
Carolina’s Traverse City squad also features Aleksi Saarela and Janne Kuokkanen, both coming off their first full pro campaigns. While Roy and Gauthier fit into the physical role of the pro game, Saarela and Kuokkanen showed strong scoring prowess with the Checkers a year ago, something that should shine brightly during this tournament. Traverse City could be a solid confidence booster for both Saarela, who showed off one of the deadliest shots in the AHL last season, and Kuokkanen, who made the Hurricanes out of training camp a year ago.
All of the Hurricanes’ games in Traverse City will be streamed via the Fox Sports App.
Friday, Sep. 7vs. St. Louis, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sep. 8vs. Chicago, 3 p.m.
Monday, Sep. 10vs. Columbus, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Sep. 10TBD
ON THE BLUE LINEWhile the forward corps features an impressive combination of established pros and hyped-up prospects, the blue line for the Traverse City squad is significantly thinner in terms of big names. In fact, of the seven defensemen listed on the roster, four are invitees. The other three include 2017 draft pick Brendan De Jong, who is slated to return to junior this coming season, as well as Jake Bean and Michael Fora.
Bean, the 13th overall pick in 2016, and Fora, who signed a two-year contract with Carolina after spending the last three years playing in his home country of Switzerland, both figure to be key parts of Charlotte’s blue line this coming season so strong showings in Traverse City could be a nice ramp-up to the regular season for the duo. Bean established himself as a lethal offensive weapon during his junior career and got a taste of the pro game during the Checkers’ postseason run a year ago and should emerge as one of the most talented skaters on the Traverse City squad. Fora remains more of an unknown as he makes the full-time jump to North America, but enters the tournament as the oldest player on the team and boasts significant pro experience.