The 8-3 loss proved a fitting end for an exciting, unpredictable and downright strange weekend for Carolina's up-and-coming stars.
After starting the eight-team tournament on the right foot, Carolina dropped its final three games to finish 1-3-0. A jittery defense and an unstable rotation of goaltenders cost the 'Canes down the stretch, as they allowed a whopping 25 goals, including 15 in the third period alone, in just four matches.
|Thurs, Sept. 5||Hurricanes||4||Rangers||3||Rask, Tolchinsky, McGinn, Mitchell|
|Fri, Sept. 6||Blue Jackets||7||Hurricanes||5||Garlent, Rask, Tolchinsky, Biega, Ganly|
|Sun, Sept. 8||Sabres||7||Hurricanes||4||McGinn (2), Carrick, Tolchinsky|
|Mon, Sept. 9||Blues||8||Hurricanes||3||Tolchinsky (2), Pederson|
Offensively, the 'Canes performed quite well.
Development camp standout and recent entry-level signing Sergey Tolchinsky picked up right where he left off in July, finding the back of the net in all four games and leading the team with five goals, eight points and a plus-three rating.
The Russian sniper went, shockingly, undrafted in June, but thanks to a jaw-dropping summer performance, has quickly advanced into the elite tier of the Hurricanes' prospect system.
He's also begun to draw national attention. Per NHL.com's Mike Morreale via Twitter:
Hurricanes AHL and prospect coach Jeff Daniels also added his thoughts:
He opened a lot of eyes over the summer in Carolina and, just by doing that, earned himself a contract. He's an exciting player to watch, funny and loves to play. He has a great personality, competes and can score and finish. He's not afraid to go to those tough areas and take a hit, score a goal. His goal in our opener was one of the prettiest goals I saw…I was in awe on the bench.
Ryan Murphy, former 12th overall pick and potential Joni Pitkanen replacement, led the squad with six assists and nearly lit the lamp on several other occasions.
Two former second-round choices with fast-rising prospect stocks—Brock McGinn (47th, 2012) and Victor Rask (42nd, 2011)—both registered multiple goals, as well. A closer look at their respective playing styles can be seen in last week's column.
Elias Lindholm, the team's fifth overall draft choice in 2013, appeared in two games and tallied a single assist. His ice time was limited as he continued to recover from a development camp shoulder injury.
Forwards Brody Sutter (two assists) and Brendan Woods (two assists) and defensemen Danny Biega (one goal), Austin Levi (one assist), Beau Schmitz (one assist) and Trevor Carrick (one goal) were also invited from the prospect team to the Hurricanes' training camp, which begins Thursday in Raleigh.
For all the prolific statistics and overflowing optimism, though, the performance of the prospects team at Traverse City still sent a worrisome message to the franchise's front office.
Regardless of the cause, allowing 6.25 goals per game is simply unacceptable at any level.
Goaltender Daniel Altshuller, a third-round pick in 2012, followed up his solid 36-18-2 OHL campaign with a terrible tournament performance—both his .877 save percentage and 4.54 GAA (per unofficial stats) were appalling in hindsight.
Young rearguards Biega, Carrick and Tyler Ganly, moreover, combined for an atrocious minus-10 rating; even Murphy posted a minus-three mark for the weekend.
The 'Canes also experienced a complete lack of contribution from their tournament tryouts and invitees. Only Hunter Garlet registered more than one point. Meanwhile, Zach Lorentz racked up a minus-seven rating in three appearances and Austin Lotz registered a 7.50 GAA and .815 save percentage.
Carolina's annual participation in the Traverse City competition is always a worthwhile learning experience. 2013 was certainly no different.
Now the team's focus shifts to training camp, where it will try to continue the hot streaks of up-and-coming youngsters like Tolchinsky, Murphy and McGinn and attempt to resolve some increasingly troublesome conflicts in the back end.