Bauer Motown Classic Brings Future NHL Talent To Detroit

© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets

By Jacob Messing

The puck drops on the 2017 Bauer Motown Classic — streamed live right here on FloHockey — next weekend in Detroit. The tournament, presented by Legacy Global Hockey, has featured plenty of players who headed to the NHL, and you can bet this year will be no different.

Three of the top 11 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft  (No. 3 Dylan Strome, No. 8 Zach Werenski, and No. 11 Lawson Crouse) participated in the Bauer Motown Classic as youngsters.

The following year, five of the top 16 picks (No. 6 Matthew Tkachuk, No. 7 Clayton Keller, No. 14 Charlie McAvoy, No. 15 Luke Kunin, and No. 16 Jakub Chychrun) were all drafted and are alumni of the tournament.

Of those players, only Kunin has yet to play an NHL game, but each of the other seven has left a mark during his short NHL career. Below you’ll find a closer look at a handful of these budding stars.

Clayton Keller | 19 Years Old | Arizona Coyotes

NHL Stats: 6 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts.

In his freshman year last season with Boston University, Keller finished 19th in NCAA scoring with 21 goals and 45 points in 31 games. The center trailed only behind Denis Smirnov (47 pts.) in freshman scoring.

The Missouri native joined the Coyotes following his season with the Terriers, adding two assists in three games. The undersized Keller has outplayed his 5-foot-10 frame everywhere on the ice and uses a keen hockey IQ to out-duel his opponents.

In Arizona’s season opener, Keller reaffirmed his NHL status by scoring his first goal and recording six shots on net in just under 20 minutes of ice time. He’s an important piece of Arizona’s offense moving forward on a team trending upwards.

Jakob Chychrun | 19 | Arizona Coyotes

NHL Stats: 68 GP, 7 G, 13 A, 20 Pts.

Chychrun was projected as a top-five pick ahead of the 2016 NHL Draft, but the defenseman slipped all the way to the Detroit Red Wings at No. 16, who flipped the pick to Arizona to unload Pavel Datsyuk’s deadweight cap space.

Chychrun stepped right into a full-time NHL role, fitting in with poise, albeit with some learning curves as a teenage blue liner on a bottom-dwelling team.

The Florida native went viral on hockey Twitter over the summer, appearing ready to take the next step among the game’s greatest players.

Chychrun was injured in offseason training and underwent knee surgery on August 4. His timeline is unknown, and while he has not yet begun skating again the organization stated last week that he is ahead of schedule.

Charlie McAvoy | 19 | Boston Bruins

NHL Stats: 2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts.

A teammate of Keller’s last season at BU, McAvoy has the potential to grow into a top-10 NHL defenseman. In 75 games over two years with the Terriers, McAvoy scored eight goals and 51 points alongside a plus-19 rating.

The New Yorker joined the Bruins’ AHL affiliate Providence at the end of last season, where he tallied two assists in four games before joining Boston for six playoff games, dishing three assists and averaging a whopping 26:12 of ice time.

McAvoy will be a top defenseman for Boston for years to come. He’s a defensive stalwart with offense in tow, proven by his regular season debut of a goal and assist.

Matthew Tkachuk | 19 | Calgary Flames

NHL Stats: 79 GP, 13 G, 37 A, 50 Pts.

Tkachuk had a solid rookie year with Calgary a season ago and showed his future in four words: like father, like son. The eldest son of hall of famer Keith Tkachuk, known for his balanced offense and tenacity, Matthew was a mirror image of his dad.

With 13 goals, 48 points and 105 PIM in 76 games as a rookie, the versatile left winger is just scratching the surface. Calgary’s youth of Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and others has pinned them as an up-and-coming team ready to fight the Pacific Division’s top spot.

Tkachuk’s ability to beat opponents on the scoresheet or toe to toe is a seemingly dying art in pro hockey, which makes him a fascinating player to watch.

Zach Werenski | 20 | Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL Stats: 81 GP, 12 G, 36 A, 48 Pts.

After just 81 NHL games, Werenski has shown he is a future Norris Trophy winner. The Michigan native scored a combined 20 goals and 61 points in 71 games during his two years at the University of Michigan.

The defenseman played with future NHL players including Dylan Larkin, Zach Hyman, and others, where they mutually benefitted from each others’ strong play. Werenski placed third in 2017 Calder Trophy voting, behind only Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.

Currently partnered with Seth Jones on the Blue Jackets’ top pair, the two former top-10 draft picks have the ability to grow into the game’s best tandem for a Columbus team finally putting the pieces together.

FloHockey will live-stream the Bauer Motown Classic, which kicks off on October 20 at 8 AM EST and runs through October 22; the final game is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

The hockey extravaganza is made up of nine divisions, split up between U18, U16, and U15, as well as six more for skaters born in each year between 2003-08.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

High And Wide: Washington, Wild, and Woeful Starts

© Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils

By Jacob Messing

The overhauled Arizona Coyotes remain winless through five games, the Buffalo Sabres grab their first win, three Washington Capitals sit atop the scoring race, and the Erik Karlsson-less Ottawa Senators have grabbed at least a point in all five games.

The Furious Return Of Alex Ovechkin

© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens

By Jacob Messing

High And Wide: Hot Starts, Hat Tricks, And Humbled Champs

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild

By Jacob Messing

Winnipeg Jets One Piece Away From Flight

© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Winnipeg Jets at Calgary Flames

By Jacob Messing

The Atlanta Thrashers joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1999, and the journey to a serious postseason run has been anything but smooth. In 16 seasons, the organization has relocated, played eight playoff games, won zero, and morphed into the Winnipeg Jets, all while struggling to balance offense, defense, and goaltending.

UNLV Hockey Assistant Coach Injured In Las Vegas Attack

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UNLV hockey assistant coach Nick Robone was shot in the chest on Sunday night during the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left 59 dead and over 500 injured. The 28-year-old was immediately hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery after a successful surgery. 

20 Predictions For The 2017-18 NHL Season

© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers

By Jacob Messing

It’s finally October, and with the new NHL season set to start on Wednesday predictions are flying all over the place. It’s just a part of coverage, like toothless smiles and trash talk are apart of the game.

Players Question Rule Changes -- And They Have A Point

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports NHL: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings

By Jacob Messing

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg got straight to the point when asked about the NHL’s new rules.

“It's slowing down the game; it's almost mocking the game,” Zetterberg told MLive’s Ansar Khan.

St. Louis Blues And Other NHL Teams Fight Through Early-Season Injuries

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild

By Jacob Messing

With the puck set to drop October 4 for the new NHL season, a handful of injuries suffered during the preseason may hinder some teams getting off to a hot start.

'If You Ain't First, You're Last': Erie Otters Take Step Back In OHL

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By Jacob Messing

A historic Erie Otters season ended suddenly in late May when host Windsor defeated the regular season champions 4-3 for the Memorial Cup, given to the winner of a four-team tournament played