TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Traverse City Prospects tournament isn't solely for early-round draft picks hoping to leave an impressionable mark prior to training camp.
There are several players participating from each of the eight teams who happen to be here on a tryout basis with dreams of grabbing some of the spotlight and earning much more than a cup of coffee during the five-day tournament.
St. Louis Blues right wing Jacob Doty, an undrafted 6-foot-3, 223-pound enforcer, did his best to open some eyes on Thursday when he went toe-to-toe with Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (6-7, 254) midway through the second period. There's no denying the fact that Oleksiak, who was selected in the first round (No. 14) of the 2011 NHL Draft, will one day be patrolling the Stars blueline.
Doty, however, has to take a different approach.
"I hit him and he dropped his stick and kind of shoved me against the glass and then said 'Let's go,'" Doty told NHL.com. "I'm a guy you don't have to ask twice … so we went at it pretty good."
Doty certainly held his own, despite giving up four inches and 31 pounds to Oleksiak. Each player threw monstrous right hands and never flinched in a scrap that lasted about 15 seconds before the linesmen stepped in.
"I think that's the purpose of every guy here … to make your mark and get a contract," Doty said. "I definitely want to make my mark."
Oleksiak played 16 games with the Stars in 2012-13, producing two assists and adding 14 penalty minutes. He also had six goals, 33 points and a plus-19 rating in 59 games with the Stars' American Hockey League affiliate, the Texas Stars. His development is certainly on track. Still, he realizes the Stars not only drafted him for his defensive ability, but his physicality.
"I don't think either one of us was looking for [a fight]; it was kind of a situational thing," Oleksiak said of his scrap with Doty. "He laid a big hit on me in the [Dallas Stars] corner, and I gave him a shove. He gave me one back and at that point you kind of connect eyes and realize, 'Alright, I guess it's time to answer the bell.'
"It's kind of good to get those [fights] in the preseason to get those jitters out of the way."
Doty, who was involved in 10 fights last season for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, is well accustomed to finding a dance partner at some point in the game. He told NHL.com that he's been fighting since the age of 15.
"The coaches told me to be strong on the half walls and make my mark and do what I do," he said. "They're not going to tell me to change my game, just play my game and I'll be fine.
"Some guys who play that role don't really enjoy fighting, but I thoroughly enjoy it. So when it starts, I'm ready to go."
What's going through Doty's mind when he finds himself with a handful of jersey and his fist clenched?
"I've been there a bunch of times before … you just enter a different zone and I'm not really thinking about anything else," he said. "You try to stick to your strategy. Against a bigger guy like that, you try and stick to a strategy and I thought I did fine."
On a line with Vancouver Canucks' first-round draft pick Hunter Shinkaruk and Curtis Valk while in Medicine Hat last season, Doty racked up 11 goals, 28 points and 90 penalty minutes. Valk is also in Traverse City on a tryout for the Blues.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @email@example.com
|Back to top|