Monday, August 24, 2009

Handicapping the 2009 Traverse City tournament rosters

We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2009 Traverse City Prospects Tournament, and it's time to familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land. Typically the team who wins is the one who brings the most experienced roster -- that is to say the most guys who have played some pro hockey. That team this year is the Detroit Red Wings, the host team. They have five players who spent all of last year in the AHL. Put that together with good goaltending tandem in the form of Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce, and you have a winner. Note that it is important to have two good goaltenders for this tournament rather than one, as they usually take turns -- there's no reason to overuse a goaltender and pull a groin so early in the season.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were barely able to scrape together a roster. Only eight of their players are owned by the organization, and that's after flying in two Europeans! The rest were invitees, including both goaltenders. The only big name on the roster is John Moore.

Minnesota, similarly, has only nine players it owns. But, they are spread out a bit better among the positions and both goaltenders, Matt Hackett and Darcy Kuemper, are Minnesota property. They should be in slightly better shape.

The best roster from a pure prospects perspective is probably Carolina's. Between Zach Boychuk, Jamie McBain, and Mike Murphy, there's a lot of future NHLers there. And even one current one -- Brandon Sutter, who played 50 NHL games last year. He's one of five players with pro experience. That plus the talent level make Carolina a favorite as a new entrant, taking over Tampa's spot.

The St. Louis Blues also have some well-regarded prospects on their roster, including probably the highest of them all, Alex Pietrangelo. With Jake Allen, Brett Sonne, and new second rounder Brett Ponich, this will be a team to check out. They have three players who spent most of the season in the pros, although just one of them was in the AHL. Overall this is a young team.

The Thrashers entry is also very young, with six players having been drafted in 2009. Only five defensemen are listed so far, and there are pro spots still available, since only two have been filled with invitees out of the IHL and CHL. Another strong pro addition to the blue line would tip this entry strongly in one direction.

Defending tournament champion
Dallas boasts a good goaltending tandem with Richard Backman and Tyler Beskorowany, and some bigger names in Scott Glennie and Ivan Vishnevskiy. It's apparent how far the pendulum has swung away from Europeans in that organization, as not one player drafted out of Europe appears on the roster (though three are originally from there). Three of the players were in the ECHL last season, and one -- Vishnevskiy -- played in the AHL.

Last but not least is the NY Rangers. They have compentent goaltending in Scott Stajcer and Chad Johnson. Two of their forwards and no defensemen played pro last year. This is probably not going to be their year again though.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Up and coming goalie coach: Nick Petraglia of Miami

This summer I attended Mitch Korn's goaltending camp because I was working on a feature on the Predators coach. I learned a lot while doing it, but the highlight for me intellectually was an off-ice session taught by Nick Petraglia, who is a coach and director of hockey operations at Miami University and also does some coaching for USA hockey. He had done research to determine the best way to position your goaltending glove, and it's not the way most goalies do it. Between these kinds of insights, learning from one of the best in Mitch Korn, and Petraglia's team attitude, I wouldn't be surprised if an NHL team picked him up in the next few years. And not just to coach goalies, he's got the right background to go far in any front office position. He played for Andy Murray at Shattuck, so he knows some of the right people. Here's his full bio from the Miami website.

Nick Petraglia at Korn camp in Nashville in 2009.

Side note: I've created a Twitter feed: I'll post mostly when I travel.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hockey's Future will cover the 2009 Traverse City Tournament

A lot of people are looking around for information on the upcoming Traverse City Prospects Tournament. There is generally very little coverage of this tournament. Hockey's Future will be there, and have daily updates on every game. Follow on Twitter for in-game score updates.

Last year, NHL Network showed some of the games on tape delay, but there has been no indication of the same this year. With all the issues on the NHL's plate, taking on the expense of doing that just doesn't seem likely.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Page turns on another year in hockey

We're going through our once a year age purge right now at Hockey's Future. I've been going through every page, player by player, weeding out the guys who no longer meet the criteria due to age. August 15th is our cutoff date because it's at a time that won't interfere with anything else and is in the middle of a Top 20 rerank. There's always mixed feelings when weeding, as I bump into guys I've met along the way. Some should have made it but didn't. Some were good people, but ultimately lacked the talent.

One guy it felt right to delete was Josh Hennessy. It seems like he's been kicking around forever. He's been ranked for like six years and I'm tired of seeing his name. Time to finally say goodbye. It doesn't look like he'll make it.

Later this week (Aug. 15) is the signing deadline for college guys and we'll say goodbye to a few more.

Meanwhile, I'm already preparing for a fall trip. Starting my research and making a notebook to take along. I can smell the ice if I close my eyes.