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2015 Traverse City Tournament Preview

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

The Rangers open the 2015 Traverse City Tournament today at 3:30 pm against the Minnesota Wild. Before the puck drops, let’s take a look at what prospects will be wearing the red, white and blue throughout the four-game prospect tournament.

Up front, the Rangers are led by 2013 third-round pick Adam Tambellini, who is coming off a sensational season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Tambellini, 20, scored 47 goals and 86 points in 71 regular season games last year.

“It’s a really good tournament with a lot of good players,” Tambellini told BlueshirtsUnited.com. “Hopefully [we’ll] be competitive. It’s a quick turnaround with new teammates. Hopefully just play my game well.”

Ryan Gropp, whom the Rangers chose in the second-round of this year’s NHL Draft, should also be a key contributor up front, possibly alongside Tambellini. The 18-year-old scored 30 goals and 58 points in 67 games last season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. He’s a pure goalscorer and one of the fastest players in the tournament.

Rounding out the final two forwards on the team that are not invitees are 2014 third-round pick Keegan Iverson, and 2015 fourth-round pick Brad Morrison. Iverson, 19, is a power-forward currently playing for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Last season, the 6-foot1, 219-pound winger posted 15 goals and 39 points in 68 games, while amassing 91 penalty minutes.

Morrison, 18, is an offensive-forward with good speed and nice hands. Despite being 6-foot-0 and 160 pounds, the center isn’t intimidated by going to the net and the dirty areas on the ice, as evidenced by his 23 goals and 50 points for Prince George of the WHL a season ago.

The Rangers will bring nine invitee forwards to the tournament to round out their roster, headlined by center Adam Brooks, who scored 30 goals and 62 points for Regina of the WHL, and center Cameron Askew, who notched 45 points in 66 games for Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Rangers’ defense is filled with drafted players, including 2012 first-round pick Brady Skjei, who is expected to compete for a spot on the Rangers’ big club when training camp begins next week. The smooth skating 21-year-old finished his college career last season with the University of Minnesota, where he scored a goal and 10 points in 33 games before turning pro with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He went pointless in eight regular season games before scoring three points in 15 playoff games.

Another blueliner expected to push for a roster spot is Calle Andersson, who is slated to play his first season in North America. The 2012 fourth-round pick split last season with EV Zug and HC Lugano of the NLA in Sweden, scoring six goals and 20 points in 48 games.

Rangers 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Graves had a superb 2014-15 season with Quebec of the QMJHL. Known predominantly for his defensive game, Graves shined offensively, scoring 15 goals and 39 points in 50 games for the Remparts. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Graves has a strong shot from the point and is very reliable in his own end.

“There’s pressure. There’s also excitement,” the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Graves said. “For me personally, I’m not the kind of player that stands out too much. For my game, I don’t want to stand out too much” because he plays a simple style.

Defenders Ryan Mantha, Petr Zamorsky and Sergey Zborovskiy round out the team’s top-six. Invitees Turner Ottenbreit and Jerret Smith add depth to the team’s blueline.

In goal, hometown hero and 2014 second-round pick Brandon Halverson will once again get to play in front of family and friends for the Blueshirts. The Traverse City-native had a spectacular season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League in 2014-15, going 40-5-2 with a 2.63 goals against average in 50 games.

Invitees Jacob Smith and Taylor Dupuis will join Halverson in net.

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