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Wennberg among Traverse City best

by Mike G. Morreale / Columbus Blue Jackets


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Columbus Blue Jackets player development coach Chris Clark had a good feeling about the team the Blue Jackets had for the 2014 Traverse City Prospect Tournament.

The Blue Jackets had six players on the roster that were selected in the first or second round of recent NHL drafts. They lost forward Sonny Milano, a 2014 first-round pick (No. 16), to a fractured cheek and orbital bone in the second period of the opening game, but the Blue Jackets won their first tournament championship in eight years with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

"Looking at the rosters before we went into the tournament, I thought we had a good team and a good chance but you never know until you get on the ice," Clark said. "I thought our guys responded well; we trailed by at least one goal in every game, but [we] still responded."

John Davidson, the Blue Jackets’ president of hockey operations, was ecstatic to see his young players hoist the championship cup.

"So many players performed well," Davidson said. "[Alexander] Wennberg, [Josh] Anderson, [Oliver] Bjorkstrand. And our goalies. I really like this group of young players. They earned this."

In the championship game Columbus overcame a penalty-shot goal that gave Dallas a 2-1 lead in the second and a shot that Blue Jackets forward TJ Tynan rang off the crossbar with less than two minutes left in regulation. Anderson, a fourth-round pick (No. 95) in 2012, ended the game when he deflected in a shot by Austin Madaisky with 1:54 remaining in a 3-on-3 overtime.

Here's a look at Wennberg, featured in NHL.com's top 11 players from this year's tournament (listed alphabetically). Milano and Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie (2011, No. 44) are excluded from this list because of injuries.

Alexander Wennberg (2013, No. 14), Columbus Blue Jackets -- The 6-1, 190-pound forward played on a pretty formidable top line in the tournament, alongside left wing Marko Dano and right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand. Wennberg, No. 13 on the NHL.com Top 60 prospect ranking, played a vital role in the team's first-place finish with one goal, two points, a plus-4 rating and five shots on goal. Wennberg's line accounted for eight goals in the tournament.

"He's just so smart," Clark said. "He's in the right position and making great plays. Nothing is overly flashy, but he just makes the three-foot pass that might go through someone's legs onto the tape, and everything is flat. Defensively he's been really good getting back. You tell him something once and it goes right in; he's a smart player."

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