As NHL training camps got set to open, teams throughout the league brought aboard a number of players on professional tryout deals, giving them an opportunity to make their case and potentially steal a job.
In some cases, those PTOs didn’t last long. A day or two was all a team needed to make the decision to send a player packing. But in others, like that of Teddy Purcell in Boston or Brooks Laich in Los Angeles, the veteran skaters have managed to carve out a place for themselves on the pre-season squad and leave the front office staff pondering the potential of turning the PTO into a full-time gig.
A standout pre-season performance hasn’t kept everyone safe, mind you. One name that stands out among the cuts is the Vegas Golden Knights’ decision to snip Tyler Wong. While it’s only pre-season and no one should be confusing exhibition success with regular season greatness, Wong’s hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks early on was impressive. However, he was stuck in the bottom-six and the Golden Knights didn’t see a spot for him with the big club. Thus, he was sent packing. He is, however, being given a shot at continuing his time with the organization by impressing with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
Also shocking is that Jared Cowen, who missed all of last season, wasn’t able to show enough to find his way onto the depleted Colorado defense. The Avalanche are in dire, dire need of warm bodies to fill out a blueline that has very little NHL experience, but Cowen’s performance across three pre-season tilts wasn’t enough to convince Colorado to take a shot.
That said, some of those who signed PTOs and were expected to stick throughout camp have managed to do just that. In Chicago, Cody Franson continues to make his case for a depth spot on the Blackhawks’ blueline. Daniel Winnik’s two-way play has earned him an extended look with the Minnesota Wild. And Scottie Upshall, whose two-year stint in St. Louis came by way of a PTO, has done enough to stick around with the Vancouver Canucks.
Here’s a complete list of players who signed PTOs and their current status:
Released: Tyson Strachan, D.
Teddy Purcell, RW: A trying season in 2016-17 saw Purcell, who started his career with the Kings, sign in Los Angeles only to spend the majority of the year in the AHL. He got a shot with the Bruins, though, and is making the most of it. Two games into the pre-season, he has one goal and remains in camp.
Cody Goloubef, D: His primary use throughout training camp and the pre-season has been as a third-pairing blueliner. He’s averaged 15:27 across three games, but has seen the ice in all situations. No points, but Goloubef is in the conversation, at the very least, for a depth spot.
Tanner Glass, LW: Far from shocking that he hasn’t averaged a boatload of ice time, but at 10:59 per outing, he has the third-lowest per-game average. Glass has a goal, though, and it appears he could be in the mix to land another big-league job, this time as a depth option in Calgary.
Released: Brett Findlay, LW; Rod Pelley, C; Joel Lowry, LW; Daniel Maggio, D; Dylan Olsen, D; Sam Ruopp, D; Cliff Watson, D; Samuel Dove-McFalls, LW; Glenn Gawdin, C; Ben Hawerchuk, LW; Tyson Helgesen, D; Mark Rassell, C; Colby Robak, D; Joseph Cramarossa, LW.
Cody Franson, D: Two games, one goal and three points. The Blackhawks probably weren’t expecting Franson to produce that much in a short stint on his PTO, but it sure looks like he’s got the inside track on a job should Chicago find some cap space. Of the four players brought in, Franson is the only one remaining.
Released: John Mitchell, C; Drew Miller, LW; Mark Stuart, D.
Released: Jared Cowen, D; Gage Ausmus, D; Ty Lewis, D.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Released: John Mitchell, C; Brady Austin, D; Scott Savage, D; Hayden Hodgson, RW.
Released: R.J. Umberger, LW; Shaw Boomhower, LW; Tomas Soustal, C; Cole Tymkin, RW; Zachary Roberts, LW.
DETROIT RED WINGS
P-A Parenteau, RW: He’s been a consistent scorer in the NHL, and Detroit needs offensive help, so it’s not shocking to see Parenteau still in camp. He’s been taking on a third-line role and has seen significant power play time in his two outings. He doesn’t have any points to show for his efforts, however.
David Booth, LW: Seeing his first NHL action in two years, Booth has impressed enough to hold a spot deep into camp. He has one assist in three games, but has primarily played a fourth-line role. He’s not averaging much more than 13 minutes per game, though he’s had the chance to show his stuff on the PK.
Chris Kelly, C: He’s been busy this pre-season. Kelly has suited up fives times and skated 66 minutes during the exhibition slate. He’s managed to extend his stay, too, by notching three assists. If the Oilers want a depth option down the middle, Kelly might be their guy.
Brandon Pirri, RW: It’d be impossible to say Pirri isn’t getting the chance to earn his contract. He has two games played and upwards of 16 minutes of average ice time, but he’s yet to put anything on the scoresheet. Primarily getting looks on the power play.
Harry Zolnierczyk, LW: If Pirri is getting a chance as a power play specialist, then Zolnierczyk is getting the opportunity to shine on the other side of special teams. In his two games, he has played four minutes on the PK. He could earn a depth spot, but nothing more.
Released: Nikolai Belov, D.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Brooks Laich, C: He hasn’t played all that much, but Laich looks like he could be on his way to carving out a spot. In one game, he has one goal, an overtime winner, and he actually played quite a bit, seeing time on the penalty kill and power play. With Jordan Nolan waived, Laich might be on his way to a job.
Chris Lee, D: After leading all KHL defensemen and finishing sixth in league scoring, with 14 goals and 65 points, Lee contemplated signing in the NHL and is one step closer to making that a reality. He’s playing big-time minutes — 23-plus per night — and seeing time in all situations.
Released: Brandon Prust, LW; Shane Harper, RW; Tomas Sholl, G; Evan Weinger, RW; Clayton Kirichenko, D; T.J. Hensick, C; Jamie Devane, LW; Brett Sutter, LW; Andrei Loktionov, C.
Daniel Winnik, LW: The Wild could do much worse for a fourth-line winger than Winnik and he seems to be fitting in. His average ice time is up there and he’s played in four of Minnesota’s pre-season games. He brings some quality to the bottom half of an already deep lineup and looks to be on his way to a deal.
Ryan Malone, LW: The belief was Malone would come to camp, play his heart out and earn a shot at making the AHL club. Instead, he seems to be making a legitimate case for a fourth-line NHL role. He’s suited up four times and his biggest impact was scoring the shootout winner in a pre-season tilt with Winnipeg.
Eric Gelinas, D: Montreal needs some additional depth on the back end and Gelinas has been playing well enough to earn consideration. He has one goal in his three appearances and he’s opened some eyes with his booming shot. Gelinas might be an option for the seventh or eighth spot on the back end.
Released: T.J. Melancon, D.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Jimmy Hayes, RW: His time in Boston was tough, but Hayes is making the most of this opportunity in New Jersey. Thus far, he’s managed two goals and three points in five games while seeing limited ice time. The Devils need depth any way they can get it and Hayes could be on his way to earning himself a job with his performance.
Released: Tim Erixon, D; Nicolas Guay, C; Jan Mandat, C.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Released: Ben Holmstrom, C; Casey Bailey, RW.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Andrew Desjardins, LW: The Rangers were starting to get a look at Desjardins in a fourth-line role, but a hit on New Jersey’s Miles Wood earned the former Blackhawks winger a two-game suspension. New York is still looking to add depth up front, though, so the suspension might not deter them from bringing Desjardins in full-time.
Released: Scott Kosmachuk, RW.
Released: Chris VandeVelde, LW; Pius Suter, C; Charles-David Beaudoin, D; Brendan Woods, LW.
Released: Ivan Kosorenkov, RW; Maxim Lamarche, D.
Jay McClement, C: Rumors have persisted regarding the Penguins’ interest in finding a depth center to fill out their ranks and, to this point, it appears the role is McClement’s for the taking. He has skated in three pre-season games and scored one goal and two points. He’s not playing a ton of ice time, but he seems to be doing enough to impress.
Jordy Bellerive, C: An undrafted free agent who had spent the past two seasons in WHL Lethbridge, Bellerive came to camp with little fanfare but battled his way to a contract. He’s been sent back to the WHL at this point, but he’s going back with an entry-level deal in hand.
Sam Miletic, LW: One season in the USHL followed by a pair in the OHL and then a shot at earning an NHL contract. Not a bad deal for Miletic, especially not once he put pen to paper on a three-year, entry-level deal. He’s left the main camp and is heading down to the AHL.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Released: Ty Loney, RW; Mike McKee, D.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Released: MaCauley Carson, LW; Mark Kastelic, C; Vincent Praplan, C; Parker Gahagen, G; Dawson Weatherill, G.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Released: Joseph Raaymakers, G; Kevin Hancock, LW; Shane Conacher, RW.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Roman Polak, D: Playing most of his past three seasons in Toronto, Polak was given a shot on a PTO, but he’s yet to suit up. He’s still recovering from off-season leg surgery. It’s going to be tough for him to earn a spot with the Leafs and chances are he’ll be on the chopping block sooner or later.
Scottie Upshall, LW: Upshall is once again looking to turn a tryout into an NHL deal and he might be on his way. He’s gotten a look as a fourth-line winger in two games, and while he hasn’t scored, he could be a useful all-around veteran on a team that has had its depth depleted.
Ryan White, RW: After signing a PTO, White was sidelined with a concussion and he hasn’t been able to suit up. Chances are he doesn’t get into the lineup before the 2017-18 NHL season begins and that could mean his best bet is trying his hand with AHL Utica if he wants to stay in the organization.
Released: Dylan Plouffe, D; Danny Moynihan, C.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Released: Tyler Wong, RW; Scooter Vaughan, D; Alex Barre-Boulet, C; Patrick Bajkov, RW; Jayden Halbgewachs, C; Keoni Texeira, D; Will Warm, D; Nikolas Brouillard, D; Dmitri Osipov, D; Kenney Morrison, D; Stephan MacAulay, LW; Bryce Gervais, RW.
Alex Chiasson, RW: A clever little move by the Capitals to bring in some size and offensive punch, Chiasson has proven he can earn himself a spot. He has one goal in two games and is averaging top-six minutes in the pre-season. If he makes the team, he won’t stay there once the campaign starts, but he should definitely get a look.
Released: Jyrki Jokipakka, D; Robbie Baillargeon, C; Jimmy DeVito, C; Tanner Jeannot, LW; Brendan Semchuk, RW; Mark Simpson, C; Adam Morrison, G.
Released: Brody Sutter, C; Kirill Gotovets, D; Francis Beauvillier, C.
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