2022 NHL Rookie Tournaments Preview: What, Who To Watch For

2022 NHL Rookie Tournaments Preview: What, Who To Watch For

NHL teams are sending prospect teams across the continent this week to compete in various rookie showcase tournaments.

Sep 13, 2022 by Chris Peters
2022 NHL Rookie Tournaments Preview: What, Who To Watch For

This week marks the first steps towards the 2022-23 NHL season and it starts with NHL teams assessing the future assets of their organization. Across the league, NHL clubs will fan out across the continent for rookie tournaments or series, mostly running from Sept. 15-19. Shortly thereafter, NHL players will convene at their respective training camps to begin full preparations for the coming season.

Rookie tournaments allow the young players in each organization, and some tryout invites, a chance to make a case for themselves to get long looks in training camp or any look at all. For teams, the rookie tournaments won’t be viewed as make or break for any one player, but they carry some importance.

NHL teams will use these events as measuring sticks to see how their young players stack up against their peers before they give them a shot against the veterans and NHL stars in NHL preseason action. The players have a chance to show their level of readiness, but more importantly their progression from the previous season. And in the meantime, they all give us a look at the futures of their respective teams and organization’s farm systems.

Many high-level prospects will be in action this week across these events, so we’re breaking down who is playing where, and which high-profile prospects are expected to compete in some of the bigger events across the U.S. and Canada this week.

2022 NHL Rookie Faceoff – San Jose, Calif.

Participating Teams: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights

The Rookie Faceoff has been a great way to get a look at many of the top prospects from most of the American-based teams in the Pacific Division, with the Central Division's Colorado Avalanche also coming along for the ride. This event has moved around as the participating teams have traded off hosting the event. This year's will be played at the brand new TechCU Arena, which will be the home for the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, San Jose Barracuda. The NHL Rookie Faceoff will mark the first major event at the new facility.

The field is a strong one as well. A total of 16 first-round picks are listed on the rosters for the event, with seven of those players being top 10 picks including 2020 second overall pick Quinton Byfield (Los Angeles) and 2021 No. 3 pick Mason McTavish (Anaheim Ducks). There is a lot of star-quality prospects, including a few that have a chance to make an honest run at the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year this season.

Los Angeles, Anaheim and Arizona will have teams littered with some of the very best prospects in hockey right now. Byfield and McTavish are well-established, but Arizona's Dylan Guenther is coming off of a remarkable season in the WHL and should push for a roster spot. Conor Geekie, who went 11th overall in July, also is attempting to make the team in his first try. San Jose's William Eklund, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back from a 2021-22 season that started promisingly, but didn't end how anyone had hoped. He's an exceptional talent and very well could make the Sharks roster right out of camp. There are six 2022 Olympians partaking in this event including Canada's McTavish, along with San Jose Sharks free agent signee Strauss Mann, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Drew Helleson, Vegas Golden Knights first-rounder Brendan Brisson, Arizona Coyotes forward Nathan Smith and Colorado Avalanche forward Ben Meyers who each played for Team USA.

Notable prospects expected to compete

Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings (2nd overall, 2020)

Mason McTavish, Anaheim Ducks (3rd overall, 2021)

Alex Turcotte, Los Angeles Kings (5th overall, 2019)

William Eklund, San Jose Sharks (7th overall, 2021)

Brandt Clarke, Los Angeles Kings (8th overall, 2021)

Dylan Guenther, Arizona Coyotes (9th overall, 2021)

Pavel Mintyukov, Anaheim Ducks (10th overall, 2022)

Conor Geekie, Arizona Coyotes (11th overall, 2022)

Brendan Brisson, Vegas Golden Knights (29th overall, 2020)

Justus Annunen, Colorado Avalanche (64th overall, 2018)

Strauss Mann, San Jose Sharks (Free Agent)

Ben Meyers, Colorado Avalanche (Free Agent)

2022 NHL Prospects Tournament – Traverse City, Mich.

Participating Teams: Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs

One of the older prospect tournaments, Traverse City has been a rite of passage for many young NHLers over the years. It has been a rotating cast of teams over the years, with the Detroit Red Wings playing host. The teams actually do compete for a trophy in this tournament, the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup, which was named for a legendary Red Wings blogger and the founder of the essential CapGeek.com. Wuest died of cancer at 35 in 2015.

This event will also feature a number of high profile prospects including the No. 5 and No. 6 pick from the 2021 NHL Draft. Kent Johnson, fresh off scoring the golden goal for Canada at the World Juniors will be playing in games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Simon Edvinsson of the Detroit Red Wings will be looking to help strengthen his case to make the big club out of camp. Others of note in this tournament including the OHL and WHL MVPs, Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven both playing for the Dallas Stars. This event will also mark the long-awaited North American debut of Kirill Marchenko, who has been a standout youngster in Russia's KHL for years.

The collective skill level of these teams should make Traverse City particularly entertaining.

Notable prospects expected to compete

Kent Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets (5th overall, 2021)

Simon Edvinsson, Detroit Red Wings (6th overall, 2021)

David Jiricek, Columbus Blue Jackets (6th overall, 2022)

Denton Mateychuk, Columbus Blue Jackets (12th overall, 2022)

Sebastian Cossa, Detroit Red Wings (15th overall, 2021)

Zack Bolduc, St. Louis Blues (17th overall, 2021)

Wyatt Johnston, Dallas Stars (23rd overall, 2021)

Jake Neighbours, St. Louis Blues (26th overall, 2020)

Fraser Minten, Toronto Maple Leafs (38th overall, 2022)

Logan Stankoven, Dallas Stars (47th overall, 2021)

Kirill Marchenko, Columbus Blue Jackets (49th overall, 2018)

Nick Robertson, Toronto Maple Leafs (53rd overall, 2019)

Nick Abruzzese, Toronto Maple Leafs (124th overall, 2019)

2022 Prospects Challenge – Buffalo, N.Y.

Participating Teams: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins

One of the more anticipated rookie events from this season, the Buffalo Sabres will be playing host to a number of teams with high-profile prospects. The Sabres have several high-profile prospects of their own, but despite hosting the tournament, they will not be sending 2021 No. 1 overall pick Owen Power, nor will 2020 No. 7 pick Jack Quinn be suiting up for the Sabres. They will, however, have 2022 No. 8 pick Matt Savoie and fellow first rounders Isak Rosen and Jiri Kulich on their roster.

Though Power will not play, there will be a No. 1 pick scheduled to compete. Juraj Slafkovsky, who went first overall to Montreal in July, will get his first chance to showcase his skills in a Habs jersey. Montreal's roster is actually really exciting with Slafkovsky, 2022 first-round Filip Mesar, 2020 first-rounder Kaiden Guhle and a number of other top talents in the system. Meanwhile, we could also see the 2022 No. 2 overall selection Simon Nemec of the New Jersey Devils also participate in this event, though the club has not yet announced its final roster for Buffalo.

Ottawa will also have a significant entry in this event as Jake Sanderson, fully recovered from a hand injury that plagued him throughout the summer, is cleared to play. He was the No. 5 pick in 2021. The Sens will also have Sanderson's old North Dakota teammate Shane Pinto on the roster. He missed most of last season with an injury, but looks to be a prominent prospect for the rebuilt Sens.

Notable prospects expected to compete

Juraj Slafkovsky, Montreal Canadiens (1st overall, 2022)

Simon Nemec, New Jersey Devils (2nd overall, 2022)

Jake Sanderson, Ottawa Senators (5th overall, 2020)

Matt Savoie, Buffalo Sabres (8th overall, 2022)

Tyler Boucher, Ottawa Senators (10th overall, 2022)

Kaiden Guhle, Montreal Canadiens (15th overall, 2020)

Samuel Poulin, Pittsburgh Penguins (21st overall, 2019)

Fabian Lysell, Boston Bruins (21st overall, 2021)

Owen Pickering, Pittsburgh Penguins (21st overall, 2022)

Ridly Greig, Ottawa Senators (28th overall, 2020)

John Beecher, Boston Bruins (30th overall, 2019)

Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators (32nd overall, 2019)

Mads Sogaard, Ottawa Senators (37th overall, 2019)

Filip Lindberg, Pittsburgh Penguins (Free Agent)

2022 Young Stars Classic – Penticton, B.C.

Participating Teams: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets

After a two-year absence due to coronavirus restrictions in Canada, the Young Stars Classic in Penticton is back, featuring Western Canada’s four teams. This is another one of the more celebrated rookie classics, which was certainly missed those two years. Each team will play three times, with a number of recent first-rounders and undrafted free agent signees that will be looking to make strong cases for themselves including Edmonton’s Xavier Bourgault, Dylan Holloway and Philip Broberg, Calgary’s Connor Zary, AHL Goaltender of the Year Dustin Wolf and many more.

Notable prospects expected to compete

Philip Broberg, Edmonton Oilers (8th overall, 2019)

Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets (9th overall, 2020)

Dylan Holloway, Edmonton Oilers (14th overall, 2020)

Chaz Lucius, Winnipeg Jets (18th overall, 2021)

Xavier Bourgault, Edmonton Oilers (22nd overall, 2021)

Connor Zary, Calgary Flames (24th overall, 2020)

Jakob Pelletier, Calgary Flames (26th overall, 2019)

Brad Lambert, Winnipeg Jets (30th overall, 2022)

Jet Woo, Vancouver Canucks (37th overall, 2018)

Danila Klimovich, Vancouver Canucks (41st overall, 2021)

Dustin Wolf, Calgary Flames (214th overall, 2019)

2022 Prospect Showcase – Raleigh, N.C.

Participating Teams: Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning

A little southern hospitality will welcome the young players for this four-team event in Raleigh. Each of the teams have been more competitive in recent years, which means they’ve often had lower draft picks and somewhat lighter prospect pools due to trades. That’s not necessarily true of Carolina, which has stockpiled draft picks in recent years and has built a large number of players that project to be depth talent at the NHL. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators have a couple of high-profile prospects that should be among the most widely anticipated for this particular event, most notably top goalie prospect Yaroslav Askarov, who is expected to spend much of this season in the AHL. While this event may lack star power relative to some of the other events going on, there’s going to be plenty to keep track of as each team looks for a number of their younger players to take a step.

Notable prospects expected to compete

Yaroslav Askarov, Nashville Predators (11th overall, 2020)

Zachary L'Heureux, Nashville Predators (27th overall, 2021)

Ryan Suzuki, Carolina Hurricanes (28th overall, 2019)

Luke Evangelista, Nashville Predators (42nd overall, 2020)

Jamieson Rees, Carolina Hurricanes (44th overall, 2019)

Gage Goncalves, Tampa Bay Lightning (62nd overall, 2021)

Hugo Alnefelt, Tampa Bay Lightning (71st overall, 2019)

Justin Sourdif, Florida Panthers (87th overall, 2020)

Other Rookie Events

The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild will square off in a pair of games at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in Chicago, played in honor of the late Minnesota assistant GM and former NHLer Tom Kurvers who died of cancer in 2021. Out east, the New York Rangers will take on the Philadelphia Flyers prospects in two games at the 2022 Rookie Series in Allentown, Pa.

The Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders and Washington Capitals are among teams that are not scheduled to compete in preseason rookie events this year.