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News, notes from Traverse City Tournament - Sept. 14

by Mike G. Morreale

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been very successful reloading each season with general manager Stan Bowman working within the NHL's salary-cap system.

The Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons in 2014-15, and there's no reason to think they won't be in the running for another despite losing some key players from that championship lineup.

After winning the Cup in six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in June, Bowman traded forwards Brandon Saad (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Patrick Sharp (Dallas Stars), and forwards Brad Richards (Detroit Red Wings) and Antoine Vermette (Arizona Coyotes) and defenseman Johnny Oduya (Stars) left as free agents.

The Blackhawks acquired some good young talent and some savvy veterans during the offseason, but they will also rely on their top prospects for added support at some point in 2015-16.

One player closing in on making the jump to Chicago is left wing Ryan Hartman, a first-round pick (No. 30) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

"Ryan played the whole year in the [American Hockey League in 2014-15] and has energy and finishes checks," said Ted Dent, coach of the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate in Rockford. "He's busy, is good around the net and has a quick release, so he's got a bright future. He got a taste of the NHL last year (he played five games with the Blackhawks in February), and we think he's on the right path. If he has a good training camp, he has a chance."

Dent, who is coaching Chicago's prospects at the Traverse City Tournament, understands the importance of identifying players ready to make the jump to the NHL each season.

"The development model is huge within our organization, and it's our job in Rockford to make sure that there's anywhere from two to four players that are ready to move up to the NHL each year because of the salary-cap era and because of the turnover that Stan [Bowman] has to deal with in Chicago," Dent said. "That's sort of our job. I think overall we've done a good job with over the last seven years, and we've seen a lot of players come and go with the Blackhawks."

Here are five other talking points through three games in the Traverse City prospects tournament:

Winging it -- Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou, a fourth-round pick (No. 110) in the 2012 draft, scored two goals in a span of 2:12 late in the third period to help the Red Wings prospects remain undefeated with a 5-4 victory against the Stars prospects Monday at Centre Ice Arena.

Detroit, which won the tournament in 2013, will play 2014 champion Columbus in the tournament final Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

Anthanasiou, who has been playing on the top line with center Dylan Larkin (2014, No. 15) and right wing Anthony Mantha (2013, No. 20) in Traverse City, broke a 4-4 tie on a backhand with 2:21 left in regulation.

Athanasiou spent his first full season in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2014-15, scoring 16 goals with 16 assists in 55 games.

Rangers get first win -- The New York Rangers earned their first victory in the tournament despite being short one defenseman after Brady Skjei sustained an upper-body injury in the first period of a 4-0 victory against the Blue Jackets.

Goaltender Jacob Smith, a free agent invite by the Rangers to Traverse City, made 38 saves, including 15 in the third period, to earn the shutout. Smith (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) went 28-18-10 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .896 save percentage in 56 games with North Bay of the Ontario Hockey League last season.

Two of the five defensemen who finished the game -- Petr Zamorsky, who signed a free agent contract with the Rangers on June 11, 2014, and Calle Andersson, drafted by New York in the fourth round (No. 119) of the 2012 draft - scored a goal.

Rangers top-line center Adam Tambellini (2013, No. 65), the son of former NHL player Steve Tambellini, had a goal and one assist. Tambellini has spent the past two seasons with Calgary of the Western Hockey League, scoring 47 goals with 39 assists in 71 games in 2014-15.

Wild about the Gustavs -- Mike Reilly hasn't been the only defenseman for the Minnesota Wild having a solid tournament. Gustav Olofsson, a second-round pick (No. 46) in the 2013 draft, and Gustav Bouramman (2015, No. 201) have shown great potential along the blue line.

John Torchetti, coach of Minnesota's AHL affiliate in Iowa, has liked what he's seen in each player.

"Olofsson is definitely a top-three defenseman in Iowa," said Torchetti, who is coaching the Wild's prospects in Traverse City. "He's a great skater, and his gap control is really good in the neutral zone.

"Bouramman was quite a find in the seventh round. He's very calm and cool with the puck, and that's what you like to see for the organization moving forward."

Hurricane warning -- Despite the fact Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin (2015, No. 5) was ruled out of the Traverse City Tournament with an unspecified injury that occurred in August during USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Hurricanes remain loaded along the blue line with young prospects in Traverse City.

Haydn Fleury (2014, No. 7), Brett Pesce (2013, No. 66) and Jaccob Slavin (2012, No. 120) have looked extremely poised and confident along the back end. Pesce likely will begin the season with Charlotte of the AHL. Fleury will join Hanifin in challenging for a spot on the Carolina roster out of training camp, but the acquisition of veteran James Wisniewski from the Anaheim Ducks on June 27 will make that difficult. Fleury, who had three assists in a win against the Blackhawks prospects Monday, signed his entry-level contract Aug. 7, 2014.

Golden goalie -- Red Wings goaltender Jake Paterson, a third-round pick (No. 80) in the 2012 draft, has won all three games in Traverse City. Paterson, who made 26 saves in a 5-4 victory against the Stars on Monday, has 78 saves on 84 shots in the tournament. He has a 2.00 goals-against average and .929 save percentage, and is the expected starter in the final Tuesday.

Paterson, 21, played a part in Detroit's only other Traverse City Tournament championship in 2013. He had a 2.37 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 26 games for Kitchener of the OHL in 2014-15.


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