We're one week and four days away from the Traverse City and the Rangers today released the names of the 24 players expected to participate in the five day tournament that precedes training camp and unofficially starts the preseason.
The focus - and expectations - this year, will be on a group of new prospects who will be making their first appearance. Conversely the tourney also marks an opportunity for the six invitees and four AHL contracted players to try and make a big enough impression to get an invite to the official training camp that starts September 12th with medicals.
Headlining this year's team are the forward duo of Kaapo Kakko - 2nd overall in 2019 and Vitali Kravtsov - selected 9th overall in 2018. Both players are expected to push for a spot on the opening night roster, and this will be their first chance to play competitively in North America. Both have size and scoring ability, and will be expected to lead the offense.
This will also be the first chance to see 2014 fourth round pic Igor Shesterkin, who has built an impressive career in the KHL since being drafted, and will push perhaps for the backup role for the Rangers in net. Trade acquisitions Adam Fox and Yegor Rykov will also make their first appearance for the franchise. Fox came over after being traded by the Hurricanes after it was clear he would not sign there, and is also a good shot to make the roster. Rykov was acquired 18 months ago in the trade that sent Michael Grabner to New Jersey, and comes to New York as a prospect who could push for a spot with a good camp.
Other players more on the bubble include goaltender Adam Huska and defenseman Joey Keane. Keane impressed at training camp last year and could potentially reinforce that performance with a good showing in Michigan, while Huska comes under the radar a little, with Alexandar Georgiev and Shesterkin ahead of him on the depth chart. The expectations at the moment are not high for the Slovakian native, but there's a good chance he'll be battling Shesterkin for playing time in Hartford.
Finally 2016 4th round pick Tarmo Reuanen joins the Rangers for his first year under contract, and could be another under rated guy to watch.
Of the remainder, 2019 draft picks Karl Henriksson, Matther Robertson and Hunter Skinner will all attend. The Swedish forward is undersized, but has good potential, while Robertson defintiely is someone worth watching as he develops. 2018 4th round pick defenseman Nico Gross will also be in the line-up, and counts as one of those prospects who still has some potential.
Of the remainder, Right Wing Jake Elmer and Center Patrick Newell were undrafted free agents in the spring, and will be almost certainly heading to Hartford, along with the foursome of Nick Jones, Shawn McBride, Ryan Domowski and Lewis Zerter-Gossage, who all come into their first full pro seasons on AHL contracts.