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Notebook: Get noticed, make an impression

Monday, 09.07.2009 / 9:56 AM / Traverse City Prospects Tournament

By Larry Wigge - NHL.com Columnist

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Making an impact. Being noticed.

That's the thought that Dan Marr, director of amateur scouting and player development for the Atlanta Thrashers, put into the minds of his team's prospects before they began the five-day NHL prospects tournament here Sunday.

It's not a numbers game ... and yet it is, according to Marr.

"I went around the room and told all of the players, 'You should be on the ice making all the scouts ask 'Who's No. 40?' 'Who's that guy?' 'What do we need to know about him?' "

There is no No. 40 on Atlanta at this camp. But Marr's message was spot on nonetheless: It's easy to look up and see No. 49 Evander Kane, Atlanta's first-round pick, sixth overall, in the 2009 Entry Draft. But it's the other players who need to turn heads, need to get the scouts to look on their rosters to learn a little more about a guy.

"The more times an Eric O'Dell or Paul Postma or Mike Forney can get one of our scouts to look at the roster, the better chance they have at achieving their dream of playing in the NHL," Marr added.

O'Dell is the player Marr pointed out most in this regard. He was
obtained from the Anaheim organization in a trade at the deadline last March for Erik Christensen, so most of Atlanta's pro scouts don't know that he had 33 goals and 30 assists for Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League last season and is ready to leap to the next level.

Like O'Dell, the Thrashers are expected to turn Postma, a defenseman and former seventh-round pick, and Forney, a winger from Green Bay of the USHL and former third-round pick, professional this season. Their performance in Traverse City is key.

The Thrashers had a 4-1 lead in the third period Sunday, so there was plenty of time for Marr and his scouts to look up the names and numbers. Unfortunately for the Thrashers, a third-period rally by Detroit gave the Red Wings a 6-4 victory.

First blood and a renewed passion -- Stefan Legein, the second-round pick in 2007 who told the Columbus Blue Jackets that he was burned out last fall and quit hockey, scored the first goal of the tournament.

If he was burned out, he didn't show it by going to the net with
authority to convert a pass by Matt Calvert to give Columbus a 1-0 lead over Minnesota in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Wild.

Legein, who returned to the game last January and played in 26 games with Syracuse of the American Hockey League, said he knew he'd face a battery of negative opinion for taking that kind of sabbatical. But ...

"I feel like losing your passion for something happens a lot," Legein countered. "How many kids go to university and change their majors? If they were in this situation, who knows how they would act?

"I didn't feel the commitment last summer. I just felt it was the best career move for me to step back and take some time off, than to come back in here with a bad attitude. It's wasn't like I quit. I just needed to recharge. Now, I'm ready to play."

"He looks like he's into the game," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Legein's history tells us he can be a pest and be physically and
emotionally involved in the game.

Top picks and ... -- We all love to watch the progress of the game's first-round picks and this tournament has at least one first pick on each of the eight team and 11 in total.

The first-rounders include:

Carolina - Zach Boychuk, Brandon Sutter, Philippe Paradis
Atlanta - Evander Kane
Detroit - Thomas McCollum
Rangers - Mike Del Zotto
Minnesota - Tyler Cuma
Columbus - John Moore
Dallas - Scott Glennie, Ivan Vishnevskiy
St. Louis - Alex Pietrangelo

To prove that there are plenty of other kids worth watching,
Minnesota's 2-1 third-period rally against Columbus on Day 1 included goals by Kevin King and Brandon Buck -- both here on tryouts. And in Carolina's 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers, defenseman Elgin Reid, another tryout, broke a 3-3 tie with 2:25 left.

Carolina on his mind -- Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said taking over in midstream last season behind the bench for Peter Laviolette means that unless a player is named Brandon Sutter, Zach Boychuk or Drayson Bowman, he's learning about Carolina's kids firsthand here.

In the Canes' 5-3 victory over the Rangers, Maurice said plenty of the players he already knew about as Bowman, Boychuk and Sutter all scored goals and had 12 of Carolina's 40 shots in the victory.

Maurice said of Sutter, "I'm not sure how much offense to expect from him, but there is no doubt he is very, very smart, skilled and ultra-competitive like all the Sutters."

In Carolina, Sutter is listed on the depth chart behind center Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour. But that's not to say Brandon hasn't already made an impact on his coach.

"He is so smart defensively, you sometimes forget how young he is," Maurice added.

Hail to one Wolverine -- In the St. Louis Blues' 9-6 win over the Dallas Stars, the players were scoring them in 2's.

Former U. of Michigan right winger Aaron Palushaj scored twice in the third period to lead the Blues to the victory, while Tomas Vincour and Mathieu Tousignant had two goals apiece for the Stars. With his assist, Palushaj was the only player to get three points in the tournament on Day 1.

When asked if Palushaj, a second-round pick in 2007, 44th overall, heard any "Hail to the Victors" when he was coming off the ice, he said no.

"But I had a lot of relative here rooting for me -- and I didn't find out until 3 o'clock, when my mom called and said her sister and some more family would be here. Thirteen in all drove down from Northville, Mich., which is about a suburb of Detroit and about 3 1/2-4 hours from here."

And you can be sure Mom and Dad Palushaj will be in the stands before this week is over.


Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center