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CBJ Traverse City Tournament Preview

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The Jackets are looking to defend their title in the annual prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The annual Traverse City Prospect Tournament begins today, with the Jackets entering play as the defending champions. They sent a loaded team last year, and while this year's entry doesn't feature the star power of a year ago, this team is chock full of talent, grit and experience.

A few days ago we showed you the roster and gave some info on the non-roster invites. Earlier today however it was announced that Anton Forsberg would not be attending:

We don't know why yet, but my initial thought when the roster was announced was that it was a bit odd for a professional like himself- who was one of the top goalies in the AHL last season-to be participating in this tournament.

His replacement, Morgan Clark, just finished four years here in Nova Scotia playing for St. FX. Clark is a former seventh-rounder of the Vancouver Canucks.

There are eight teams participating in the tournament, split into two divisions:

Ted Lindsay Division: Jackets / Wild / Rangers / Blues

Gordie Howe Division: Hurricanes / Blackhawks / Stars / Red Wings

The Jackets will play the three teams in their division once, on the following dates:

11 September: 4:00pm vs. Blues
12 September: 7:00pm vs. Wild
14 September: 3:30pm vs. Rangers

The top teams from each division will meet in the final on 15 September, with the winner taking home the newly-created Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup. The trophy honors Wuest, the visionary behind CapGeek, who passed away after a battle with colon cancer earlier this year. More on Wuest here.

Players to Watch:

Sonny Milano: he had his face smashed-in at the beginning of this tournament last year, delaying the start of his season. This year he'll be looking to get off to a strong start as he pushes for a roster spot in Columbus.

Oliver Bjorkstrand: Bjorkstrand has hero status among CBJ fans, which is lofty praise for a player who has yet to turn pro. He'll be the go-to offensive threat for the Jackets at this tournament.

Kerby Rychel: One of the three 2013 first rounders, he's the last one to yet make the NHL as a regular, and is looking to take a big step forward. Traverse City is a terrific starting point.

T.J. Tynan: The "old man" up front, Tynan should take a leadership role and anchor the top line.

Peter Quenneville: It's a bit of a mystery where he'll be playing this upcoming season, so it's crucial for him to cement himself - somewhere. A good showing at this tournament will go a a long way to determining where he'll play.

Daniel Zaar: It's time for him to prove what he can do as a full-time North American player. His wrister alone makes him a lethal offensive player.

Mike Paliotta: Part of the Saad trade, Paliotta has jumped to the top of the Jackets' defensive prospect chart. He'll be pushing for a spot on the CBJ roster.

Veeti Vainio: I think we're all excited to see what this kid can do. #vainio

Joonas Korpisalo: The Korpedo is penciled-in as the Monsters' backup goalie, but this is his first full-time gig in North America. He's the go-to 'tender for the Jackets in Traverse City with Forsberg backing out. In a short tourny, elite goaltending can win it all.

We'll wrap things up at the end of the tournament, best of luck to the kids heading North. REPEAT!