Each tournament will enable players selected in the NHL Draft, signed as free agents, or earning tryouts to make an impression prior to the start of NHL training camps next week.
The Buffalo Sabres will host the Prospects Challenge with players from the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators at LECOM HarborCenter in Buffalo from Thursday through Monday. Juraj Slafkovsky, a forward selected by the Canadiens with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and defenseman Simon Nemec, chosen by the Devils with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, each will represent his team in the tournament.
The NHL Prospects Tournament features five teams at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan, also from Thursday through Monday: the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The San Jose Sharks will host the Rookie Faceoff, which includes the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes at Tech CU Arena, the new home of San Jose of the American Hockey League, and one game at Solar4America Ice Rink in San Jose from Friday through Monday.
The NHL Prospects Showcase, with players from the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators, will be held at Invisalign Arena in Morrisville, North Carolina, and PNC Arena in Raleigh from Friday through Monday.
The Young Stars Classic will include the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, British Columbia, also from Friday through Monday.
Here are three top prospects to watch in each of the tournaments:
Simon Nemec, D, New Jersey Devils: Nemec (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) stood out in the top professional league in Slovakia and for Slovakia at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2022 IIHF World Championship. The 18-year-old had six points (one goal, five assists) in eight games at the Worlds, the most for a defenseman at that age in tournament history. Though not overly aggressive offensively, Nemec has a high hockey IQ and is strong in transition.
Jake Sanderson, D, Ottawa Senators: The 20-year-old (6-2, 185) is expected to participate after recovering from a nagging right hand injury. He could be a regular on the power play and penalty kill for the Senators this season. The No. 5 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is coming off two surgeries on his hand and was unable to take part in on-ice sessions during development camp July 11-14 but still managed 26 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 23 games with North Dakota.
Juraj Slafkovsky, F, Montreal Canadiens: The 18-year-old (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) was voted the most valuable player of the 2022 Beijing Olympics after scoring seven goals in seven games for Slovakia, which was awarded the bronze medal for the first time. “When you build a team, we often talk about centers and goaltenders,” Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said. “When we tried to differentiate one player from another, we often came back to the fact that Juraj, even when he played with men at the World Championships, wanted to make a difference. He wanted to have the puck all the time.”
Simon Edvinsson, D, Detroit Red Wings: The 19-year-old, chosen with the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, is determined to play for the Red Wings on opening night this season, his first as a professional in North America. Edvinsson (6-4, 198) was a finalist for rookie of the year in the Swedish Hockey League last season and had a goal and an assist in six games for third-place Sweden at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
Kent Johnson, F, Columbus Blue Jackets: The 19-year-old (No. 5, 2021 draft), who can play wing or center, scored a goal in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, four in the IIHF 2022 World Championship, and had nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven games to help Canada win the 2022 World Junior Championship. In his short stint with the Blue Jackets after completing his sophomore season at Michigan in 2021-22, Johnson (6-foot-1, 167 pounds) showed slick passing and an ability to generate offensive chances.
Wyatt Johnston, C, Dallas Stars: The No. 23 pick in the 2021 draft won the Red Tilson Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player after scoring 124 points (46 goals, 78 assists) in 68 regular-season games and 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 25 playoff games with Windsor last season. The 19-year-old (6-1, 175) also had four points (two goals, two assists) for Canada when it won the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship.
William Eklund, C, San Jose Sharks: Eklund (No. 7, 2021 draft), who turns 20 on Oct. 12, started last season with the Sharks and had four assists in nine games. He then returned to Sweden and scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 29 games with Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League. San Jose needs offense, and Eklund (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) is expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp.
Mason McTavish, C, Anaheim Ducks: The 19-year-old, selected No. 3 in the 2021 draft, was named the most valuable player of the 2022 WJC after leading all skaters with eight goals and 17 points in seven games for first-place Canada. McTavish also represented his country at the 2022 Beijing Olympics and scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 24 regular-season games and 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 19 playoff games with OHL champion Hamilton.
Alex Turcotte, C, Los Angeles Kings: Los Angeles has plenty of interesting participants in the tournament, including center Quinton Byfield and defenseman Brandt Clarke, but Turcotte (No. 5, 2019 NHL Draft) is most intriguing considering the 21-year-old did not take part in on-ice activities at development camp in July because of two concussions sustained last season. Turcotte (5-11, 185), a great playmaker and tough in the trenches, did score 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 27 games with Ontario of the AHL and is expected to play a big role there this season.
Yaroslav Askarov, G, Nashville Predators: The 20-year-old, chosen No. 11 in the 2020 draft, is expected to make his North American debut with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League this season. The right-catching goalie (6-3, 178) impressed Predators fans over the summer at the team’s development camp, when he had a 25-minute shutout performance in the Future Stars game.
Jack Finley, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: Finley (6-6, 220) scored 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 21 games with Spokane and 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists) in 39 games with Winnipeg of the Western Hockey League last season. He then had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 15 WHL playoff games. The 21-year-old (No. 57, 2020 draft) is a solid skater despite his big frame and has a nice scoring touch; he could begin the season with Syracuse of the AHL.
Justin Sourdif, F, Florida Panthers: The 20-year-old (5-11, 173) had 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) over 52 games split between Vancouver and Edmonton of the WHL last season but an injury prevented him from participating in Panthers development camp this summer. Sourdif (No. 87, 2020 draft) scored 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 28 regular-season games and 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 19 postseason games for Edmonton, the WHL champion.
Dylan Holloway, F, Edmonton Oilers: A wrist injury sustained in February 2021, which required surgery, set him back and then did so again when he needed surgery a second time in September. The 20-year-old (6-1, 203) returned to play the second half of the season with Bakersfield of the AHL and made his debut for the Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Colorado Avalanche. He was chosen No. 14 in the 2020 draft.
Linus Karlsson, F, Vancouver Canucks: The 22-year-old (6-1, 178), who can play center or wing, scored 26 goals with Skelleftea last season to surpass the SHL rookie goal record set by Canucks center Elias Pettersson (24 with Vaxjo in 2017-18). The right-handed shot, acquired in a trade with San Jose for forward Jonathan Dahlen on Feb. 25, 2019, is expected to begin his first season in North America with Abbotsford of the AHL.
Cole Perfetti, C, Winnipeg Jets: The 20-year-old (5-11, 177) playmaker could earn a spot on one of Winnipeg’s top two lines in the future. Perfetti (No. 10, 2020 draft) had 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 49 games through two seasons with Manitoba of the AHL. He had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 18 games with the Jets last season and six points (one goals, five assists) in two games with Canada at the 2022 WJC in December before the tournament was postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
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