NHL training camps officially opened this past weekend, with rookie tournaments taking place across the NHL landscape. Today we discuss who stood out at three of the main events: the tournament in Buffalo featuring Boston, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa and Pittsburgh; the tournament in Penticton, B.C., with Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver; and Traverse City, Mich., which featured Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis and Toronto.
Corey Pronman was at the Buffalo tournament, although he wasn’t in attendance for the final game. Thomas Drance reported from Penticton, and Max Bultman was in Traverse City. Overall, here are the handful of prospects we selected from each tournament who we felt stood out, with an eye towards players we felt helped their chances of cracking the big club or gave strong impressions of future pro potential.
Owen Beck, C, Montreal: Beck’s tournament wasn’t one full of flashy moments, but he was a play-driver down the middle. He’s not that big, but his compete level was quite good, winning a lot of battles and showing his game had pace. He did that while making some plays and being involved in the offense. He may never be high-end at anything in the NHL, but he has a well-rounded skill set and looked like a guy who will be effective as a pro.
Fabian Lysell, RW, Boston: Lysell was the most noticeable player on Boston from a talent perspective, as with his excellent skating and skill he seemed to be the only forward who could make things happen consistently from a zone entry or chance creation perspective. He’s still not that physically imposing, but I think he’s working on being more consistent with his effort and it’s been noticeable in the past few months.
Jiri Kulich, C, Buffalo: Kulich has had a strong last few months, building off his MVP performance at the U18 Worlds with a good World Junior and good camp performances for Buffalo. He played the middle at this tournament as opposed to the wing and looked comfortable. Kulich isn’t the best at any one thing, but his combination of speed, work ethic and skill allowed him to drive play and make things happen even as an 18-year-old going against older players. He’s likely going to start the season in the AHL, and as far as I can tell he looks ready to help a team at that level.
Simon Nemec, RHD, New Jersey: Nemec’s game wasn’t full of highlight reels or the physical dominance of a player like Juraj Slafkovsky, but he was quite effective in his games. His hockey sense is excellent, and you saw it through the matches where he always seemed to make the right decisions with the puck, keeping the play moving up ice and creating offense as well. He combined that with solid defensive work. I’d prefer him to play one more year outside the NHL, but you can tell how much pro experience he has with how efficient and fast his puck-movement is.
Shane Pinto, C, Ottawa: Pinto was quite good in the one game he played. His strong skill and compete levels were evident and he was often making positive things happen around the puck. He had a mid-game injury scare, which wasn’t ideal after missing so much time recently due to injury, but he came back and finished the game. He looks primed to play a featured role on the Senators.
Samuel Poulin, C, Pittsburgh: Poulin line did very well in the one game the Penguins played. I don’t think he stood out and took over, but I liked how Poulin’s game looked. He was winning a lot of battles, competing well and was around the play on top of finishing plays. He also looked comfortable playing the middle, a fact I mistakenly did not allude to in my previous write-up of Poulin, as he played center during the second half of the previous season.