Expectations are sky-high for many Blue Jackets prospects.
Pierre-Luc Dubois was the third selection in a draft where the first two players were considered generational. The weight of those expectations is enough to derail a career.
Vitaly Abramov, a Russian-born winger who has exceeded expectations at every stop in North America, believes he can make the Blue Jackets' roster.
Calvin Thurkauf was a seventh-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. He wasn't drafted in his 18-year-old season because he was playing in a minor league in Switzerland. He moved over to North America to play in the Western Hockey League for the Kelowna Rockets. None of that is considered the "normal" pathway for a young hockey player.
But since the Blue Jackets drafted him, he has forged his own path.
Thurkauf excelled with the Rockets by scoring over a point per game, and at the U20 World Junior Championships last year, he captained a Switzerland team that featured future first overall pick Nico Hischier (taken No. 1 by New Jersey in 2017).
Success seems to follow Thurkauf and the Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament was next on the agenda. Now he is picking up where he left off; playing alongside Dubois and Abramov, Thurkauf is averaging well over a point per game, even nabbing four assists in their first game against the Dallas Stars' prospects.
"It's a great confidence booster going into main camp," Thurkauf told Jackets TV. "I think, now, I'm prepared for main camp and I hope to perform as well as I am here."
Thurkauf has been one of the Blue Jackets' most consistent scorers in the tournament. His six assists are most in the tournament and he's tied for the overall scoring lead with three other players. He's fit like a glove on the team's top line and has them gunning for a third prospects tournament title in four years.
"It's what we came for - to win the championship," Thurkauf said.
As the Blue Jackets get ready to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the championship game of the tournament (tonight, 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Go & BlueJackets.com), Thurkauf will be heading to training camp with big aspirations. There is no reason to count him out -- he'll continue to surprise just like he always has.