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Notebook: Jimmy Vesey scores at Traverse City

Forward prospect gets goal in Rangers debut at tournament; Sergei Tolchinsky makes impression

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The 18th Traverse City Prospects Tournament, hosted by the Detroit Red Wings, is taking place at Centre Ice Arena from Sept. 16-20. The Red Wings are competing in the Gordie Howe Division with the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and defending champion Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ted Lindsay Division includes the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, MInnesota Wild and New York Rangers. The eight-team tournament has become an annual preseason event for coaches, general managers and scouts to evaluate their prospects against their peers.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Forward prospect Jimmy Vesey scored in his first game in a New York Rangers jersey at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament at Centre Ice Arena on Friday.

The goal was a highlight of opening day of the 18th annual tournament.

"It was a pretty good feeling once I saw it in the back of the net," Vesey said. "I was actually cutting across and just kind of getting out of the way of the puck (low in the left circle), but it hit me and went in. It's always nice when you get a bounce like that."

Vesey, a Harvard University graduate who won the 2016 Hobey Baker Award as the best player in NCAA hockey, had an eventful offseason. He was selected by the Nashville Predators in the third round (No. 66) of the 2012 NHL Draft but opted not to sign a contract. His rights were traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft on June 20, and he became a free agent Aug. 16, beginning a sweepstakes that reportedly included as many as eight NHL teams. The Rangers signed him to a two-year contract on Aug. 19.

Rangers defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy (2015 NHL Draft, No. 79) took the shot that deflected off Vesey past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (2014, No. 37). Vesey led the Rangers with six shots on goal on a line with center Cristoval Nieves (2012, No. 59) and right wing Pavel Buchnevich (2013, No. 75).

"It was good to get that one out of the way," Vesey said. "We're just looking to get better each game and I think that was everyone's first real game in a couple of months, so it's good to get that out of the way."

Video: Vesey gets the Rangers on the board at Traverse City

Here are four other things learned Friday:

Terrific Tolchinsky: Forward Sergei Tolchinsky scored 3:58 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 win against the Rangers.

Tolchinsky is making his fourth appearance at the tournament. The 21-year-old had 14 goals and 36 points in 72 games in his first full season with Charlotte of the American Hockey League last season and continues to hope that a solid performance will help him earn a job in the NHL.

"I just want to show my best hockey," Tolchinsky said. "If you work hard, good things usually come, and we'll see. My hockey will prove it. If I have a chance, I'll do anything to take it spot."

Tolchinsky scored after spinning off a defender and putting a shot past Brandon Halverson (2014, No. 59).

"I didn't think the move would put me open in front of the net, but I beat the defenseman and kind of spun and shot it," Tolchinsky said.

Russian set to wing it: Dallas Stars left wing Denis Gurianov, 19, is making his debut in a competitive setting for the team that selected him No. 12 in the 2015 NHL Draft. He will begin the season with Texas of the American Hockey League after playing last season in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he scored five points in 47 games for Lada Togliatti. He impressed at Stars development camp in July.

"It felt good out there; it's fast and physical, and I like that kind of game," Gurianov said after a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild. "It's a big year for me playing in North America for the first time. I think as we play more I will get more comfortable."

Gurianov had no points and three shots on goal Friday.

"He had a tough season in the KHL with limited ice time, so we had to get him out of there as soon as we could, and now we got him and his future looks bright," Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell said. "His size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), skill and compete level were the things that stuck out to us when we drafted him. He just needs to continue to improve his game."

Ready for the pros?: Wild right wing Alex Tuch, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract April 13 after two seasons at Boston College and likely will begin the season with Iowa of the AHL, made his debut. He had 18 goals and 34 points in 40 games as a sophomore.

"I think the (Wild management) wants a top-six power forward, a guy who will get in the corners and hold onto the puck and who can skate with the best of them," Tuch said. "I think I can skate well for my size (6-4, 222)."

Tuch had two shots on goal on a line with left wing Sam Anas (free agent) and center Joel Eriksson Ek (2015, No. 20).

"I think I got the nerves out of me after the first period; every time I step on the ice I have eyes on me, so I have a lot to prove," Tuch said. "I think I did pretty well, and at times I struggled. I came away with a lot of experience and now I'll have an even better second game."

Top draftee: The highest drafted prospect playing in the tournament is Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was chosen No. 3 in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The Blue Jackets, the two-time defending tournament champion, lost to the Red Wings 6-4.

"It was fun to get on the ice in a Blue Jackets jersey, but I don't like to lose," Dubois said. "It was [our] first game together and as the game went on we got better as a team. We have to keep building."

Dubois, 18, who played for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was to some a surprise pick ahead of Edmonton Oilers prospect Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat in Finland. Dubois (6-2, 201) was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, the first QMJHL player to hold that spot since Rimouski's Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) in 2005.

"The thing is, I just want to win every game. Heading into training camp, it's good to play here because it's high-tempo and everybody is working really hard," Dubois said.

Dubois, who had one assist and no shots on goal, was on the top line with left wing Sonny Milano (2014, No. 16) and right wing Vitaly Abramov (2016, No. 65).

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