Before they were stellar NHL rookies, Detroit’s Dylan Larkin and St. Louis’ Colton Parayko starred at the 2015 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.
With the 2016 edition of the tournament completed, here are some names to watch from each of the eight teams that sent a prospect squad.
Sergey Tolchinsky, Carolina Hurricanes
Tolchinsky has impressed at this tournament in the past and he scored a highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers in overtime. The bigger question is how will the quick Russian use this experience going forward? He entered training camp last season with a collection of highlight reel goals, but he never really found his stride in the AHL.
Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes
The 13th overall pick in 2016 impressed and was an anchor for a Carolina team that won the tournament. Bean isn’t the biggest player, but he has a physical edge and is disciplined in his defensive zone. His ability to move the puck had several scouts talking.
Devin Shore, Dallas Stars
Arguably one of the best forwards in the tournament. He looked like a player with NHL experience after he appeared in a pair of games with Dallas last season. More importantly, his surgically-repaired shoulder passed an early test and he was strong in the face-off circle.
Denis Gurianov, Dallas Stars
The 19-year-old Russian came in as a heralded offensive talent, but his work in the defensive zone turned some heads in Traverse City. He’s still a raw prospect who needs some refining, but his willingness to backcheck, block shots and play with a bit of an edge will go a long way.
Alex Tuch, Minnesota Wild
Scored goals and won fights in this tournament. The fight happened to be the first of his life after going the NCAA route at Boston College. Big, strong forward that stood out on a Minnesota team that didn’t impress very much.
Jimmy Vesey, New York Rangers
The 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner was on everyone’s radar and he delivered as he led the tournament with five goals and added two assists. Vesey had two game-winning goals, while he also had shootout game winner against Dallas.
Cristoval Nieves, New York Rangers
The Michigan product centered a line with Vesey and his physical style opened up space for his well-known linemate. Nieves drives the net hard and physically manhandles defenseman. He may not have the individual skills to be a top-six NHL forward, but he should be an impact player in the AHL right away.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Players with AHL experience are supposed to star at this tournament and Bertuzzi was no exception. The Detroit winger had four goals and helped the hosts to the championship game.
Joe Hicketts, Detroit Red Wings
Former free agent signing plays a smooth, solid defensive game. Worked on Detroit’s top pairing with Robbie Russo — another free agent signing — and should be able to step into a big role this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues
His stats don’t tell the whole story, especially after a bad game against Dallas in the fifth-place game. But Husso was highly-talked about as the goalie that looked most NHL ready at this tournament. He played behind a St. Louis defense that gave up ample opportunities.
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues
Was always creating chances and pushing possession for St. Louis. Showed off his hands on a pretty goal against Dallas and should be a standout player this season for Sarnia in the OHL.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Columbus Blue Jackets
The third-overall pick from the 2016 draft centered the top line and stood out on a Columbus’ team that was loaded with first-round picks. Dubois was good offensively, he scored a pretty goal against Chicago, while his defensive game really stood out.
Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Only appeared in two games after suffering a lower-body injury, but the fact he’s on this list tells you how good he was in those two games. The 2016 Calder Cup champion with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters likely won’t get a chance to defend the AHL title.
Luke Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks
The fifth-round pick in 2013 (134th overall) out of North Dakota brings a winning pedigree and two-way game to the Chicago system. After Nick Schmaltz was injured in Game 1 Johnson stepped onto the top line and helped setup Tyler Motte and Alex Debrincat.