Columbus, Ohio - Saturday marks the 11th-straight season that the Columbus Blue Jackets will send a group of prospects to the Annual NHL Prospects Tournament at the Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Mich.
Director of Amateur Scouting Tyler Wright, Development Coach for the last few seasons, is making his 5th trip and first in his new role. Wright is looking forward to the tournament and evaluating the progress of the Blue Jackets prospects.
"It's an exciting tournament because we can judge our top prospects against seven other teams and they can compare theirs to ours," Wright said. "It's a good gauge for us to watch our players and evaluate other players, but at the same time it’s preparation for a lot of these kids."
A good number of the 26 players on the roster have some AHL experience and the idea behind sending them to this tournament is in hopes of jumpstarting their season, as Wright put it. While this year’s squad boasts more guys who have been there done that there are still two newcomers – Boone Jenner and Lukas Sedlak.
"I've heard a lot about it from the guys who played last year," Jenner said. "There is going to be a lot of good players up there and it should be a good experience."
The roster also features players who could start the season in Columbus, mainly 2010 first round pick Ryan Johansen. He remembers what it was like to be a first year player in Traverse City.
"Last year I was here I was kind of a deer in headlights," Johansen said. "It's nice to have a little experience under the belt.
"I feel really comfortable with my game and the experience I had last year. I want to be one of the guys that really stand out in this tournament. I'm going up there to make a good impression on the coaching staff and everyone in the Blue Jackets organization."
Another player hoping to make an impact this season, in Springfield and/or Columbus, is Defenseman David Savard, who is in his third year going up to Traverse City.
"It's good to play a couple of games before main camp,” Savard said. "It helps you get back into game shape and game-speed situations.
"It's always good competition and this year is way different. We have a much better team… and hopefully we can win the tournament."
Wright said the idea behind taking some of the AHL guys and Johansen is the tournament will force them into a competitive mindset. The tournament is never easy, especially on first year players and the team wants to win.
"We want to start a culture of winning no matter what we do, whether it's Traverse City or inter-squad scrimmages," Wright said. "We're going up there to compete and win every game."