Traverse City: What We Learned From the Blue Jackets' Prospects

By Coby Maeir on September 17, 2023 at 12:33 pm
Blue Jackets prospects practice ahead of the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.
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The Blue Jackets concluded the 2023 Traverse City Prospects Tournament Sunday with a 2-1 record, defeating the Maple Leafs 7-3 and the Red Wings 10-7, while losing to the Stars 6-3. However, they rested Adam Fantilli, Jordan Dumais, David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, and James Malatesta for the Stars game. 

Here's what we learned from the Blue Jackets over the weekend.

Adam Fantilli is the real deal

With seven points in two games, including a highlight-reel performance against Detroit, Fantilli has certainly lived up to the hype thus far. 

Not only did he score an unbelievable goal, the first of three on Saturday, Fantilli flashed his playmaking skills with a great backhand pass to Jiricek. 

Fantilli played a complete two-way game in his two appearances, showing why he was the No. 3 overall pick in this summer's draft. You'd expect a player of Fantilli's caliber to shine in tournaments like this, but he was the tournament's best player. Heading into his first NHL training camp, Fantilli established himself as the top prospect in the organization.

QMJHL stars can't stop scoring

Over the past two seasons, Jordan Dumais has scored 100 goals, and he's picked up right where he left off, leading the tournament with four goals and eight points in a pair of games. 

He scored his goals in a multitude of ways, and while he'll be spending another season in the QMJHL unless he makes the Blue Jackets roster, the team may have gotten a steal in Dumais, a third-round pick in 2022. 

His QMJHL counterpart and reigning Memorial Cup MVP James Malatesta scored three goals in the tournament ahead of his first professional hockey season. Malatesta looks ready for AHL hockey and will be a player to watch during training camp.  

Defensive Prospects Shine

Stanislav Svozil, Jiricek, and Mateychuk, who had seven assists, all played well this weekend, showcasing the bright future of the Blue Jackets blueline. Like Dumais, Svozil was a third-round pick (69th overall in 2021) and seems primed to compete for a roster spot after making his NHL debut last season. Jiricek, the No. 6 pick in 2022, dominated the tournament and should have a solid chance to make the opening night roster.

Mateychuk scored 65 points in 63 WHL games last season and while he'll likely be going back to Moose Jaw, it'll be interesting to see how he stacks up against the NHL defensemen in the Blue Jackets organization.

Voronkov Adjusting

Dmitri Voronkov is playing North American hockey for the first time this weekend, so it's reasonable to expect a learning curve for the 6-foot-4-inch forward who scored 18 goals in the KHL last year. He had a bit of an up-and-down tournament but scored a goal Sunday. 

His size will play at any level, but his adjustment to the North American game will determine how effective he is for the Blue Jackets in 2023-24. 

The Blue Jackets' top players lived up to the billing and displayed why they have arguably the best prospect pool in the NHL.

With on-ice training camp beginning on Thursday, will this tournament serve as a springboard for the young players as they compete against several established NHL veterans?

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