The Traverse City prospects tournament starts tonight as the Blues prospects get ready to take on the New York Ranger prospects. You can watch this game live on the NHL Network tonight at 6:00 PM.
This will be the only game aired for that the Blues will play in so be sure to set your DVR if you can’t watch it.
The prospect team has a lot of familiar names on it that we as fans should recognize.
Starting in net, Jake Allen, a former 2nd round pick of the St. Louis Blues who spent his first professional season with the Peoria Rivermen last year. Many call him the future in net for the St. Louis Blues. He’s big, mobile goaltender who is great lateral movements. His positioning is top notch and he’s got untapped potential. A future starter in the NHL and the Blues biggest goaltending prospect in along time.
Behind Allen will be the Blues 3rd round pick from this past year’s draft, Jordan Binnington. Binnington won the award for best goaltender during the Memorial Cup Championship last year with the Owen Sound Attack. This should be a big year for him.
Defensively the names to watch are Brett Ponich, Cade Fairchild, and Mark Cundari.
Ponich plays a shut down style and is known to have quite the mean streak. He’s got size, he’s strong, and he’s vicious in the dirty areas of the ice. He was captain of his junior team, the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and he’ll potentially have a letter on his jersey in this tournament as well.
Fairchild is an offensively gifted defensemen who likes jumping up in the rush and making plays happen in the offensive zone. He’ll be set for his first year in Peoria this season.
Cundari has a full season in Peoria under his belt and this spark plug surprises a lot of people with his play. In no way is Cundari a big man. Standing under six feet, he is known to have a very physical side to his game. Yet he’s also very mobile, and quite the offensive player. He’s been here before and we could see big things from Cundari this year.
Brock Buekeboom and David Shields are both defensemen you can get a good look at in the tournament as well. Joel Edmundson was set to play in this tournament but Cundari will take his place as he injured his ankle in yesterday’s practice.
Forward wise, there are a lot of talented players, but my top four players to watch are Phil McRae, Stefan Della Rovere, Jay Barriball, and Cody Beach.
McRae, a former 2nd round pick by the Blues, played in 15 games with St. Louis, notching a goal and two assists. He’s got the most experience of all the players on the Blues roster so look for him to have a very big tournament offensively. He’s my pick to finish with the most points for all the prospects in this tournament.
Della Rovere also had a cup of coffee this season with St. Louis, albeit a shorter one than McRae. His seven games gave Della Rovere a chance to show his tenacity and pest abilities on the ice.
I’m hearing that Della Rovere has been named captain of this squad with McRae wearing an ‘A’. I’m not 100% sure who will wear the second ‘A’ but its possible Brett Ponich has that on his chest when the tournament starts.
Barriball, is one of the oldest players in the tournament yet is one who has very little professional experience. Just a handful of games with Peoria last season is all the kid has under his belt. Yet I don’t expect that to stop him in this tournament. He’s got underrated offensive skill and has the ability to get around the ice quickly, quietly, and make plays when the count. I’m expecting big things out of Barriball in his first full season in Peoria this year.
Lastly is Cody Beach. This kid has one thing that you cannot teach, size. He’s by far the biggest forward the Blues have on this team. Standing at 6’5 and over 200 lbs, Beach is, physically, a man playing in a boys tournament. He uses his size to knock around his opposition and he’s proven in his time with Moose Jaw, that he has underrated offensive potential as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beach in the top five offensive group for this Blues prospect team when the tournament ends.