Three Storylines To Watch For The Columbus Blue Jackets At The Upcoming Traverse City Prospects Tournament

By Dan Dukart on September 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

On Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets will send their prospects to play in the annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, MI, hosted by the Detroit Red Wings. 

Our Coby Maier wrote an excellent breakdown of the semantics of the tournament, which runs Sept 15-19 and comprises of the Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is an excellent opportunity for these organizations to allow their prospects to get game action in a competitive setting. And while the tournament has gone away from naming a champion - instead choosing a round-robin format - the Blue Jackets will want to continue the success they've had in the past.

Here are three storylines we'll be monitoring

Keying In On Kent Johnson

Johnson, 19, has been among the best players at every level he's played in recent years - in the BCHL, the NCAA, and more recently at the World Junior Championships - but he wasn't incredible in his nine-game cameo last season with the Blue Jackets. That isn't unexpected, but it will be interesting to see if he can springboard an already-incredible summer - he scored the golden goal at the WJC - into the NHL season.

He should be among the best players in the tournament. Can he perform at that level - again?

Young Bucks

One of the things I find amusing about the annual prospects tournament is how loosely the word 'prospects' is (or isn't) defined. 18? Welcome aboard. 24? Sure... why not. So it is notable that the Blue Jackets' most recent draft haul will be well-represented at the tournament.

David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Jordan Dumais, and Luca Del Bel Belluz were the organization's first four picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, and they'll all be in attendance at the tournament. While they all come well-credentialed, there are plenty of older, more experienced prospects attending on other teams, and it will be interesting to see how they stack up. 

First Look At Kirill Marchenko

Okay, so technically we got our first look at Marchenko at this year's development camp, but that's more of a dog and pony show than a legitimate competition. And while this tournament isn't quite the real thing, either, it's at least the first time most Blue Jackets fans will have had a chance to see him play live 5v5 games. 

Marchenko, like Johnson, hopes to be a fixture on the Blue Jackets roster this season. This tournament could provide the momentum necessary to launch either - or both - of them into a competitive training camp, just like Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov a season ago.