The Athletic’s Max Bultman and Sean Shapiro wrote a fantastic article discussing the evolution of the NHL’s prospect tournament phenomenon, discussing the Red Wings’ prospect tournament as the blueprint upon which other teams built their own prospect gatherings:
The hockey season starts today.
No, the NHL regular season doesn’t kick off until mid-October, but for many NHL executives and prospects, the 2021-22 campaign has its soft opening on Thursday afternoon when prospects, in full NHL apparel, clash in exhibition games.
“It’s really the kickoff of the season,” Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said. “Everyone is back in the rink, there are games to watch, and it’s a return to a sense of normalcy of what we hope will be a long season.”
Prospect tournaments and showcases were canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 but have returned in 2021. Some have been altered for financial or logistical reasons, but with a few exceptions, sending prospects to play in September has become a must-do item for NHL teams as they hope to embark on a more normal season.
And for five NHL teams, normal means returning to a small resort town along the lake in Northern Michigan, which served as the setting for the growth of the prospect tournament from an outside-the-box idea to an institution amongst NHL clubs.
The birth of the NHL Prospect Tournament dates back to 1997.