The Jackets have announced their roster for the 2017 Traverse City Prospect Tournament, taking place from September 8-12 in Traverse City, Michigan.
The notable players on the roster are former first rounders Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gabriel Carlsson, two players who are looking to make the CBJ roster. In the case of Carlsson, he’s looking to build off a brief stint at the end of last season with the big club where he saw playoff action. Dubois, meanwhile, is looking to nail down a spot up the middle for the Jackets.
Vitaly Abramov is a player to keep an eye on. Given his age and therefore inability to play for the Monsters, he’ll be looking to force his way on to the big club so that a return to the QMJHL or a stint in Europe isn’t necessary.
The forwards will be led by Dubois and Abramov, but there are a handful of players up front who spent last season in the pros with the Monsters, and this experience will be great for the younger players. Paul Bittner will be looking to get things back on the rails, while Sam Vigneault is an intriguing player that Jarmo made a point of mentioning as a dark horse to make the big roster.
The defense after Carlsson and former second rounder Ryan Collins has a lot of unknowns, but recent college free agent signee Doyle Somerby will look to make an instant impact.
The goaltending is very exciting. Brad Thiessen should be the starter in Cleveland this season under an AHL contract, but this summer the Jackets hooked the top two goaltenders in the USHL last season in Matiss Kivlenieks and Ivan Kulbakov. Kivlenieks was signed by the Jackets while Kulbakov is on an AHL/ECHL contract. These two tenders will be the tandem in Traverse City.
The 2017 draft for the Jackets was a mixed bag of Europeans and college kids, which is why you don’t see them on this roster. The Euros’ seasons have started while the college kids don’t participate in this tournament, leading to a relatively large amount of free agent invitees this year. The one notable for me is Medric Mercier, who led the OHL in goals by a defenseman last season with 22. He split the season between the Soo Greyhounds and Oshawa Generals.
Eight NHL clubs are taking part in the tournament, split into two divisions: the Jackets will join Dallas, Minnesota and St. Louis in the Ted Lindsay Division, while the Rangers, Carolina, Chicago and Detroit comprise the Gordie Howe Division.
The results from these games will determine the playoff seeding.