September 13, 2022

Prospects from each team to watch in rookie camp tournaments

Before training camps kick off next week, hockey fans will get to see some of their team’s top prospects in action with a multitude of rookie tournaments set to get underway this week.

Every year we see multiple rookie showcases, and with a majority of the league participating in exhibitions allowing fans to see most of the National Hockey League’s best prospects in action.

It’s the unofficial kickoff to the 2022-23 NHL season.

And here’s one prospect from each team you should be keeping a close eye on.

Prospects Challenge

Boston Bruins – Fabian Lysell

Fabian Lysell was taken in the first round (No. 21) of the 2021 NHL Draft and will be one of the headliners of the Boston Bruins prospect roster. Boston may not have the deepest of prospect pools — especially compared to the other teams at this tournament — but Lysell is worth the price of admission. The Bruins will heavily rely on the talented Swede to drive the offensive attack when it comes to this event. He has flashy skill and is an impressive player with the puck on his stick so look for him to draw the most attention on Boston’s roster.

Buffalo Sabres – Matthew Savoie

Matthew Savoie, the ninth overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, is easily the most intriguing prospect on the Buffalo Sabres tournament roster. He was injured during rookie camp and unable to participate, so this will be his first chance to play in a Sabres uniform. Savoie scored 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists) in 65 Western Hockey League games for Winnipeg, and will look to put his skill and high pace on display at the three-game prospect challenge. Buffalo has a full stable of exciting prospects and will a lot of them being held out, Savoie will be atop their fanbase’s list in terms of must watch over the coming days.

Montreal Canadiens – Juraj Slafkovsky

The No. 1 selection in the 2022 draft, Juraj Salfkovsky will have a lot of eyes on him during this tournament and Montreal Canadiens fans will be watching with eager eyes to see how he fares against some of the other top prospects in the league. Slafkovsky has all the tools to be the most dominant player at this prospects challenge and it’ll be an early taste of how he’s going to handle lofty expectations before heading into his first season of NHL action.

New Jersey Devils – Simon Nemec

The New Jersey Devils have a talented roster featuring a majority of their top prospects, but none will draw more eyes than Simon Nemec, the No. 2 pick in 2022. The right-handed defenseman is one of the most highly-touted defensive prospects in hockey and has been one of the best performers every time he steps foot on the ice. Devils fans will be watching him closely every time he steps on the ice and hope that he can bring his high-octane offensive style that he displayed in Slovakia. 

Ottawa Senators – Jake Sanderson

Jake Sanderson, like Nemec, has been regarded as one of the top defenseman prospects outside of the NHL and has lofty expectations ahead of his first season. Sanderson will be one of the best players on the Ottawa Senators roster and it will be interesting to see how much he stands out against his peers. He was one of the NCAA’s best blueliners and this tournament will be a chance to show how good he is. Events like these can be tough to gauge but players like Sanderson are expected to be dominant, so Ottawa fans will definitely be interested in his performance this weekend.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Samuel Poulin

With Owen Pickering being a question mark to participate with an injury, Samuel Poulin becomes the player to watch on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 21-year-old will need to take a big leap this year in order to live up to his first-round status and this challenge could be a good building block for him. This is the year for Poulin otherwise his long-term outlook could drastically change.

Rookie Faceoff

Anaheim Ducks – Mason McTavish

Anaheim Ducks fans might have the highest expectations of Mason McTavish, and after the year he had last season, it’s tough to blame them. McTavish was a star for every team he dressed for in 2021-22 — and there were a lot of teams — leading to him becoming arguably the top prospect in all of hockey. McTavish was a force in the Ontario Hockey League and a driving force behind the Canadian entry winning gold at the 2022 World Juniors. After brief NHL and American Hockey League stints last year, it is expected that McTavish wins a regular NHL spot with the Ducks this season. He will have plenty of eyes on him at this showcase and should be one of the top performers across all rosters.

Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Guenther

A talented goal scoring winger, Dylan Guenther has had high expectations of him since the Arizona Coyotes drafted him ninth overall in 2021. Guenther should be one of Arizona’s top players at this event and should be the offensive engine behind their attack. Coyotes fans will want to see big performances out of him every time he steps on the ice and with his talent, those expectations are more than warranted.

Colorado Avalanche – Oskar Olausson

Oskar Olausson is a goal-scoring machine, with his shooing ability he has the potential to beat the goalie from anywhere in the offensive zone. Colorado Avalanche fans should fully expect him to find ways to create space near the faceoff dots so he can use his shot to his advantage. He was solid in the OHL and scored a lot for Sweden at the World Juniors, he should be a standout player for this Avalanche roster and be heavily involved in their offensive attack.

Los Angeles Kings – Brandt Clarke

The Los Angeles Kings roster is loaded with talent and there could have been multiple players to pick. While Quinton Byfield, Martin Chromiak, and Alex Turcotte were all worthy of attention, defenseman Brandt Clarke will be the player to zone in on. Clarke is an extremely gifted offensive-minded back and has the potential to drive offensive play from the blue line. He’s been a force at the junior level and should be able to use his skating and offensive upside to generate plenty of high-end chances for the Kings prospects against the other rosters he will face.

San Jose Sharks – Thomas Bordeleau

Thomas Bordeleau signed with the San Jose Sharks after his season at Michigan came to an end. He saw time with both the Barracuda in the AHL and the Sharks NHL roster. After an impressive start to his professional career in which he recorded three assists in two AHL games and five assists in eight NHL games, San Jose fans will be eager to see how he’s grown since last year. This will be a chance for Bordeleau to shine and show why he’s one of the top prospects the Sharks have in their system

Vegas Golden Knights – Brendan Brisson

With a bare prospect cupboard due to trades and relatively short existence, the focus for the Vegas Golden Knights has to be on top prospect Brendan Brisson.  He was fantastic at Michigan with 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in 38 games and very good once he signed with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights scoring eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games. Vegas will have high hopes for Brisson and showing that he’s a man amongst boys at this showcase will be the expectation for him.

Traverse City Tournament

Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson

There is no shortage of options on the Columbus Blue Jackets roster, loaded with talent and plenty of their top prospects their roster will be worth watching if anyone has the time to watch their games. With tons of options, Kent Johnson will be the one to watch. He signed and played some games with Columbus, played a big role on Canada’s World Junior Championship run. Johnson has a shot at earning a top-six role right from camp. With tons of talent around him, Johnson should be a star at Traverse City.

Dallas Stars – Wyatt Johnston

Wyatt Johnston, the Dallas Stars 2021 first-round pick, has some lofty expectations after the season he just had in the OHL. Fresh off a league scoring title in which Johnston netted 124 points (46 goals, 78 assists) for Windsor, Johnston should be one of the better players on the Stars roster. With a need for young talent in the organization, Johnston could give Dallas fans a little taste of they can expect from him in the future with a strong showing.

Detroit Red Wings – Elmer Soderblom

Aside from Simon Edvinsson, who will garner a lot of eyes, Detroit Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom will be one of the most hyped up prospects on Detroit’s roster. He has the potential to be a unicorn, standing at 6-foot-8 and 248 pounds, Soderblom has the size, skating, and puck skills to be a force at the professional level. He had a solid season for Frolunda in the SHL scoring 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games. Detroit will have high hopes for him and this tournament will be a good first showcase for him and his skills.

St. Louis Blues – Zachary Bolduc

The St. Louis Blues don’t have the most loaded roster at Traverse City, so their must-watch player has to be 2021 first rounder Zachary Bolduc. Coming off a season in which he netted 99 points (55 goals, 44 assists) in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bolduc has shown that he can play a power game and produce tons of points for his team. The Blues roster will likely be carried by Bolduc and Jake Neighbours. Bolduc has the potential to be one of the Blues top prospects, so his performance at Traverse City will be worth monitoring.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Nick Robertson

Nick Robertson is a polarizing prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He struggled in his brief NHL stint last year but has put up solid AHL numbers throughout his first two seasons, with 21 goals and 23 assists in 49 games. The Maple Leafs would love if he became a true top-six scoring threat, and with his AHL success he should standout at Traverse City. A strong showing will give Toronto fans some hope heading into the 2022-23 season.

Young Stars Classic

Calgary Flames – Jakob Pelletier

Jakob Pelletier will be somewhat of a veteran for the Calgary Flames at the Young Stars Classic, and will be one of their key players. He had an extremely strong season in the AHL, scoring 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) in 66 games as a rookie for the Stockton Heat. Pelletier is highly-skilled and with his age and experience he should be a valuable player on and off the ice for the Flames in Penticton.

Edmonton Oilers – Matvei Petrov

Matvei Petrov was awesome in his lone OHL season with North Bay. He scored 90 points (40 goals, 50 assists) and really helped drive the Battalion’s offensive attack. He is one of the more skilled prospects in the Edmonton Oilers organization and seeing him play against a group of other top NHL prospects will be really intriguing before NHL training camp kicks off. 

Vancouver Canucks – Danila Klimovich

The highly-skilled Danila Klimovich had an okay rookie season with the Abbotsford Canucks, and will be looking to continue his development and become the player the Vancouver Canucks think he can be.  He is extremely talented in the offensive zone and has the potential to be a very good offensive player in the NHL. Klimovich is big and skilled, and should be the headliner when it comes to the Canucks forward group at this event. Look for him to show his strengths and be a key producer for Vancouver at this event.

Winnipeg Jets – Brad Lambert

With the storylines surrounding Brad Lambert he is the one to watch on this roster. Lambert has been polarizing for the last few seasons now and after an okay showing at the World Juniors, this will be another chance for him to show that he can be one of the best prospects in hockey. He has the skating, puck skills and IQ to be an impact player but has yet to put it all together, this could be a chance for Lambert to start off on the right foot with the Winnipeg Jets.

Prospects Showcase

Carolina Hurricanes – Alexander Pashin

Alexander Pashin is a highly-skilled offensive winger who was awesome in the VHL in Russia last season. After signing his entry-level contract and coming to North America, it will be interesting to see how his game translates. He has phenomenal puck skills and offensive instincts, his performance in these few games will worth watching as he prepares for his first season in North America. He has the potential to do something special every time he touches the ice, something the Carolina Hurricanes have to be happy with.

Florida Panthers – Justin Sourdif

Justin Sourdif finished off his WHL career with an impressive season, scoring 71 points (26 assists, 45 assists) in 52 games. He has the tools and skill to potentially compete for a spot on the Florida Panthers but will need to start the season off right with a big showing at this event. If he shows enough this season, he may be squarely on Florida’s radar for a roster spot or potential call up if needed this season. He’s a talented player and should standout on this Panthers roster.

Nashville Predators – Zachary L’Heureux

Zachary L’Heureux, a first round pick in 2021, didn’t have a spectacular season in the QMJHL but still produced over a point-per-game for Halifax. He scored 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) in 46 games, and played his usual physical brand of hockey. L’Heureux has a lot of potential but it will interesting to see if he can use his offensive skill and physicality in the professional level and be a solid NHL player going forward for the Nashville Predators. 

Tampa Bay Lightning – Lucas Edmonds

Lucas Edmonds was a beast for the Kingston Frontenacs last season, scoring 113 points (34 goals, 79 assists) in 68 games. He was drafted in the third-round in 2022 by the Tampa Bay Lightning and will be a headlining player for this Lightning roster. He has great playmaking instincts and offensive upside that he should be able to put on full display given his age and skill level.

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