The Arizona Coyotes announced that they would be hosting the annual Rookie Faceoff Tournament from September 17th to the 20th. The teams invited to participate alongside the Coyotes include the Colorado Avalanche, the Vegas Golden Knights, the San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Los Angeles Kings. During this tournament, fans will get a preview of many of the highly-rated prospects from each respective team and the chemistry between the future players, not to mention some highly demanded summer hockey. As the new season approaches, teams are preparing to decipher between the prospects ready to leap into the major leagues and the prospects who are not quite ready to begin their NHL careers. Of course, with a prospect tournament comes big names, and a handful of them are lining up to show their talent.
The Coyotes and the Sharks are in an interesting position where they have been struggling to place highly in their division, yet their prospect pool is not as deep as it should be. For the Coyotes, forfeiting picks set the team back slightly after being involved in illegal prospect physical fitness testing. The Sharks just recently fell into a state of limbo after failing to win the Stanley Cup in 2019 and over-paying many players. After re-signing Erik Karlsson, the Sharks met the conditions of a first-round pick they sent to the Ottawa Senators in the original trade. Despite both the Sharks and the Coyotes struggling to retain first-round picks as of late, they both were able to recoup their losses and grow their prospect pool through a series of trades and late-round gems. Some of the prospects expected to play during the tournament include Victor Söderström, Conor Timmins, and Dylan Guenther for the Coyotes and William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, and Ozzy Wiesblatt for the Sharks.
The Avalanche and the Golden Knights are teams that have reached the highly sought-after status of cup contender. Many of the prospects that these teams possessed have either graduated to the NHL or were shipped off for pieces to hunt down the Stanley Cup. With their prospect pools decreasing in talent levels, their performance in the tournament will be largely up in the air. Of course, management for both teams is most likely not very concerned with the performance of their prospects in the Rookie Faceoff Tournament and more concerned with overcoming the challenge of becoming the next team to hoist the Stanley Cup. However, both teams still have good prospects looking to make their mark and hopefully slot into an NHL roster. Some notable prospects include Alex Newhook, Justin Barron, and Oskar Olausson for the Avalanche and Peyton Krebs, Jack Dugan, and Brendan Brisson for the Golden Knights.
The Kings and the Ducks are both in a position where they are beginning to stack their prospect lists with lots of high-end talent. It wasn’t too long ago that these teams were in playoff spots, but when the time came to rebuild, they both began to disassemble the core to begin a new era. The Kings recognized that their window was closing fairly early on, and as a result, they most likely have the best prospect pool of all the teams competing in the tournament. While it took the Ducks a little longer to begin reshaping the team, they have nailed many draft picks over the recent years. Of the prospects expected to play in the tournament, some notable names include Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke, and Alex Turcotte for the Kings and Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, and Mason McTavish for the Ducks.
The Rookie Faceoff Tournament will be an entertaining event to watch when it gets underway this September. Many fans of the teams involved will get their first looks at new prospects and the development between years for older prospects. Given fan interest in a potential summer league via previous Puck Empire posts, there will surely be a fair number of individuals attending in person or watching the official live stream. More information regarding the tournament as well as live streaming and ticket purchase info is available at nhl.com/coyotes/tickets/rookie.