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"Game Time" PROSPECT SUNDAY: Countdown To Traverse City

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Less than a month to go until the Baby Blues head north for the annual Traverse City Prospect Tournament. Here's a quick look at what we can expect from the Blues' prospects this year as they take on the young guns of the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Red Wings, Rangers, Wild and Hurricanes.

From L to R:  Forwards C.J. Yakimowicz and Jaedon Descheneau, and defenseman Dmitrii Sergeev, are expected to be among the youngsters representing the Blues at this year's Traverse City Prospect Tournament. "Game Time" photo by
From L to R: Forwards C.J. Yakimowicz and Jaedon Descheneau, and defenseman Dmitrii Sergeev, are expected to be among the youngsters representing the Blues at this year's Traverse City Prospect Tournament. "Game Time" photo by
Brian Weidler

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The St. Louis Blues have been sending a team of prospects to the Traverse City Prospect Tournament for as long as the tournament has been in existence. Back in the early years of the tourney, the Blues actually won the tournament championship in back-to-back years, but have not managed anything higher than a third-place finish since 2011.

That could change this year, as the Blues have rebuilt the organizational roster below the pro level and have a pretty deep and balanced group of prospects available for this year's tournament.

2015 TRAVERSE CITY PROSPECT TOURNAMENT
GORDIE HOWE DIVISION TED LINDSAY DIVISION
CAROLINA HURRICANES COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS MINNESOTA WILD
DALLAS STARS NEW YORK RANGERS
DETROIT RED WINGS ST. LOUIS BLUES
BLUES' SCHEDULE AT 2015 TRAVERSE CITY PROSPECT TOURNAMENT
DATE TIME HOME VISITOR
SEPT. 11, 2015 4:00 PM EDT ST. LOUIS COLUMBUS
SEPT. 12, 2015 7:30 PM EDT ST. LOUIS NEW YORK
SEPT. 14, 2015 3:00 PM EDT MINNESOTA ST. LOUIS

The fourth-place squad from the Howe Division meets the fourth-place finisher from the Lindsay Division in the 7th Place Game at 3:00 PM Sept. 15 at David's Rink. Third Howe meets Third Lindsay in the 5th Place Game at 3:30 PM Sept. 15 at the West Rink. Second Howe meets Second Lindsay in the 3rd Place Game at 6:30 PM Sept. 15 at David's Rink, and the two top finishers in each division meet for the tournament championship at 7:00 PM on Sept. 15 at the West Rink.

Here's the Blues' roster from last year's tournament; players highlighted are expected to be returning for another go-round this year:

FORWARDS: Ivan Barbashev (2nd round draft pick, 2014), Cody Beach (5th round, 2010), Greg Betzold (Amateur tryout); Samuel Blais (6th round, 2014), Chris Caissy (Amateur tryout), Jaedon Descheneau (5th round, 2014), Jacob Doty (Signed as free agent), Robby Fabbri (1st round, 2014), Justin Gutierrez (Amateur tryout), Kevin Hart (Professional tryout), Adam Helewka (Amateur tryout), Zach Pochiro (4th round, 2013), Evan Polei (Amateur tryout), Ryan Tesink (6th round, 2011), Yannick Veilleux (4th round, 2011), C.J. Yakimowicz (6th round, 2014).

DEFENSEMEN: Joel Edmundson (2nd round, 2011), Jani Hakanpää (4th round, 2010), Petteri Lindbohm (6th round, 2012), Luke Mercer (Amateur tryout). Santeri Saari (6th round, 2013), Dmitrii Sergeev (Signed as free agent), Thomas Vannelli (2nd round, 2013).

GOALTENDERS: Jordan Binnington (3rd round, 2011), Niklas Lundström (5th round, 2011).

Of the contracted players on last year's roster, Jani Hakanpää is the only one no longer with the organization, having signed with Oulu Kärpät of the Liiga earlier this summer after having failed to even get a sniff of the NHL with the Blues.

Beach, Doty, Tesink, Veilleux, Edmundson, Lindbohm, Binnington and Lundström remain with the organization; of these players, only Tesink and Lundström are likely to be invited to Traverse City, as the rest have established themselves as AHL players.

Defenseman Santeri Saari also remains with the organization, but will likely not come over for Traverse City this year as he will be a top six defenseman with HPK Hämeenlinna of the Liiga this year, and will be in their training camp while the Traverse City tourney is taking place. Fellow defenseman Niko Mikkola, who was drafted this June by the Blues and attended the Prospect Camp in July, will also likely be in a Liiga training camp, with KalPa Kuopio, as will goaltender Ville Husso with HIFK Helsinki.

Sergeev was the only one of last year's free agent invitees to be offered a contract; none of the other free agents taken to Traverse City by the Blues last year were invited to the team's regular training camp, and none of those players are expected to be asked to the tournament again this year.

Last year, the Blues took seven free-agent invitees to Traverse City; this year, there should not be more than three or four, as the Blues now have enough rookie pros and major junior prospects to field almost a full squad for this tournament; players committed to NCAA programs cannot participate in this tournament without forfeiting their eligibility. This rule is what kept Colton Parayko and Jordan Schmaltz, among others, out of last year's tournament, and what keeps Sam Kurker, Mackenzie Maceachern, Austin Poganski, Dwyer Tschantz and Jake Walman out of it this year.

BLUES' PROJECTED TRAVERSE CITY ROSTER
## FORWARDS POS HGT WGT BIRTHDAY BIRTHPLACE
49 BARBASHEV, IVAN C 6' 00 180 12-14-95 MOSCOW, RUS
64 BLAIS, SAMUEL LW 5' 10 164 06-17-96 MONTMAGNY, QC
57 DESCHENEAU, JAEDON RW 5' 09 186 02-22-95 LEDUC, AB
63 DUNDA, LIAM LW 6' 04 212 09-15-97 GRIMSBY, ON
15 FABBRI, ROBBIE C 5' 10 170 01-22-96 MISSISSAUGA, ON
65 GAWDIN, GLENN C 6' 01 191 03-25-97 RICHMOND, BC
71 MUSIL, ADAM C 6' 03 202 03-26-97 OTTAWA, ON
54 POCHIRO, ZACHARY LW 6' 01 155 03-06-94 ST. LOUIS, MO
TESINK, RYAN C 6' 00 172 05-21-93 SAINT JOHN, NB
52 YAKIMOWICZ, C.J. RW 6' 02 198 01-26-96 WILKES-BARRE, PA
## DEFENSEMEN POS HGT WGT BIRTHDAY BIRTHPLACE
ABELTSHAUSER, KONRAD D 6' 05 225 09-02-92 BAD TÖLZ, GER
29 DUNN, VINCE D 6' 00 187 10-29-96 LINDSAY, ON
78 MIKKOLA, NIKO D 6' 04 185 04-27-96 KIIMINKI, FIN
56 PARAYKO, COLTON D 6' 05 214 05-12-93 ST. ALBERT, AB
41 SCHMALTZ, JORDAN D 6' 02 190 10-08-93 MADISON, WI
68 SERGEEV, DMITRII D 6' 03 200 03-26-96 CHELYABINSK, RUS
47 VANNELLI, THOMAS D 6' 02 165 01-26-95 MINNETONKA, MN
## GOALTENDERS POS HGT WGT BIRTHDAY BIRTHPLACE
60 BRODEUR, JEREMY (FA) G 6' 00 170 10-29-96 ESSEX FALLS, NJ
35 LUNDSTRÖM, NIKLAS G 6' 01 194 01-10-93 VÄRMDÖ, SWE
85 OPILKA, LUKE G 6' 01 192 02-27-97 EFFINGHAM, IL

Mikkola, as mentioned earlier, may or may not come over for Traverse City, and if he does not, there is space for perhaps a free-agent defenseman and two or three free-agent forwards to get a look-see from the Blues at the tournament.

Of the players on the roster above, only Abeltshauser, Lundström and Tesink played the full season in 2014-15 as pros; Fabbri, Parayko and Pochiro each played only part of the year as pros.

Abeltshauser, Barbashev, Parayko, Schmaltz and Vannelli will all likely be assigned to the Wolves after training camp, while Lundström, Pochiro and Tesink should find themselves back in Alaska again this year. Lundström is probably next in line for a callup to the Wolves if either Jordan Binnington or the newly-acquired Pheonix Copley should falter, and the Blues may be at risk of losing the Swede back to Europe if they cannot place him more permanently with the Wolves. A trade is also a possibility, as Lundström is a young goaltender with a good deal of potential who is caught in a numbers game with the Blues' organization at present.