The 2017 NHL Prospect Tournament, held as always in Traverse City, Michigan, kicked off on Friday afternoon, with a group of Dallas Stars youngsters taking on a similar Columbus Blue Jackets squad in the tournament’s opening match.
Things didn’t go according to plan for Dallas, however, as they fell into a hole just minutes into the game and were never able to dig themselves out, falling by an eventual score of 7-2. The sixth goal was an empty-netter and the seventh followed immediately after.
Niklas Hansson and Nick Caamano had the Stars goals, while netminder Landon Bow took the loss in net. Gavin Bayreuther, who was signed by Dallas as a free agent out of the NCAA in the spring, is the team’s captain for the event.
The team’s full roster for the event can be found here.
Game 2, against a St. Louis Blues team, goes Saturday at 6:00pm CT.
Some thoughts and observations on Game 1:
- It was a fairly quiet game for the team’s top prospects, namely, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov and Bayreuther. The aforementioned forwards showed some flashes off the rush and did help to set up one Dallas goal, while Bayreuther showed a lot of smooth mobility and smart decision-making, but overall, the big guns weren’t able to counteract the Columbus squad tilting the ice against them. The Blue Jackets got more out of their top players, and that was the key difference in the game.
- The Stars struggled a lot with puck control throughout the contest. Too many passes went unconnected and the team was never quite able to sustain pressure in the offensive zone. The team’s scoring chances were generally generated off of bursts of speed in transition.
- Hansson’s goal was a thing of beauty. With a 5-on-3 to work with and a little more time and space, Hansson walked the blueline before firing a perfect laser beam top corner in the Columbus net.
- Bow started in net for Dallas and looked like he had some summer cobwebs still left to shake off. He lost track of the puck a few times and kicked too many rebounds back into dangerous areas.
- 2017 2nd rounder Jason Robertson had a good game, displaying some very nice ability to read the play as it unfolded, getting himself into the right places at the right times.
- A couple of players on AHL contracts with the Texas Stars had good showings. The diminutive Max French was one of the fastest skaters on the ice and made a few plays happen because of his quickness, while the bigger Samuel Laberge showed well in board battles and had a couple of dramatic, valiant shot blocks in the second period.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 3rd overall selection from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and the Johnny Gaudreau-esque Vitaly Abramov were a dynamite 1-2 punch for Columbus, scoring four goals between them, including this slick one: