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The Traverse City story

Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm (33) cannot stop a

Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm (33) cannot stop a shot by UMass Lowell's Riley Wetmore, right, during the second period of an NCAA Frozen Four college hockey semifinal in Pittsburgh. (April 11, 2013) Credit: AP

Whenever this prospect camp rolls around, I’m reminded of “Warlock” by the poet/writer Jim Harrison, who mentions Traverse City several times in the humorous mystery.

In the front of my brain, I also hear “Summer has inhaled and held its breath too long”, Jefferson Airplane’s opening line of “Coming Back to Me.”

At any rate, September is here, and as tweeted this morn, the Rangers tourney roster is out.

Some initial impressions:

Goalies: Most interested to hear how Yale netminder Jeff Malcolm fares, and whether he can challenge for a minor-league job. 2013 draft pick Mackenzie Skapski is the other ‘tender.

Centers: Oscar Lindberg, Michael St. Croix, Andrew Yogan. Lindberg is considered a top prospect and St. Croix has put up snazzy numbers (109 Gs, 163 assists in 212 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings over the past three seasons). Yogan, a Florida native, had 41 goals for Peterborough in 2011-12, but has been slowed by injuries.

Wings: Jesper Fast, Danny Kristo, Josh Nicholls, Thomas Spelling, Anthony Duclair, Michael Kantor, Josh Graves, Kyle Jean, J.T. Barnett, Klarc Wilson, Paxton Leroux .  The first five are the skillsy guys, Duclair has speed, Kantor is gritty and competes, Jean is a power forward who started strong in Hartford and tailed off, Wilson and Leroux are glove-droppers.     

Defense: Conor Allen, out of UMass Amherst, Charlie Dodero, Troy Donnay, Ben Fanelli, Ryan Graves, Tommy Hughes, Samuel Noreau, Jimmy Oligny. Let’s see what the coaches think of Allen, Graves, Donnay and Noreau, 6-5, who had a career year in the Q. Believe Hughes, 21, is ticketed for the AHL. Dodero played three years in Sudbury.

Note: Hartford (the Wolfpack again) traded/didn’t re-sign its three top scoring forwards (Kris Newbury, Brandon Segal, Christian Thomas) and lost its two highest-scoring defensemen (Logan Pyett and Mike Vernace) to the KHL, so there are definitely openings. Some will be filled by players cut during training camp as well.

Back to Traverse City. Eight teams. Wild, Stars, Wings, Blues in one division; NYR in other.

The prospects will skate tomorrow in Westchester, then leave for the tourney.  The games: Sept. 5, vs. Hurricanes, 6th vs. Sabres; 8th vs. Blue Jackets, 9th, championship and consolation games.  No TV or live streaming, as far as I know; but hear rumblings of a daily on-line highlight package.

And finally, been at a few of the voluntary  NYR skates. A few observations on that tomorrow...

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