Training camps open in the coming days and with that comes the opportunity for dozens of players to fight for NHL jobs via professional tryout agreements.
Training camp is upon us, which means the time has come for those free agents who haven’t been able to find NHL deals to fight for their chance at job security for the coming campaign via professional tryout agreements.
Just as it has been the past few seasons, the bigger names on PTOs are veteran players who are looking to show they still have what it takes as role players, grind-line guys or on-ice pests. There are a few others thrown in, like Brandon Pirri in Florida or P-A Parenteau in Detroit, who have offensive upside, as well as a handful of defensemen who could see themselves latch on with NHL clubs before the season begins. But those types of players are, as always at this time of year, few and far between. Mixed in with the free agent crowd are more than a few AHL talents, too. That includes veterans popping up to bolster a training camp roster and some fresh faces who are being given a chance to show they can be useful to both the minor league and big clubs.
Here is a list — which will be updated as camps wear on — of players in training camp on PTOs throughout the league:
Tyson Strachan, D: A one-goal, 12-point season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans gives Strachan, 32, a chance to catch on with the Coyotes, but a packed depth chart makes him an AHL option at best. Hasn’t played more than 40 games in an NHL season since the 2014-15.
Cody Goloubef, D: Second rounder in 2008 hasn’t been able to find steady fit. Bounced up and down from the minors last season, but after Sabres made a point of rounding out blueline, hard to see 27-year-old as more than AHL depth.
Tanner Glass, LW: Spent the majority of his season in the AHL. Polarizing pugilist was productive in the post-season with one goal and four points. Brandon Bollig’s departure might open up a spot for Glass, 33, to hang around as rough-and-tumble option.
Joseph Cramarossa, C: Four goals and 10 points in 59 big league games last season. Cramarossa, 24, could start as an AHL option that has some potential to make the big club as a future injury replacement.
Colby Robak, D: After spending the early part of the season with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, Robak, 27, found himself with the Utica Comets. He managed three goals and 28 points in 64 games, and will likely be back on his way to the AHL after camp.
Cody Franson, D: Speed might be an issue, but as a third-pairing option — and at the right price — Franson could be a definite fit in Chicago. The 30-year-old scored three goals and 16 points in Buffalo last season and could be nice addition.
Jared Cowen, D: The Avalanche blueline is in shambles. Only three rearguards are under contract. Cowen, 26, has had his ups and downs — more the latter than the former — but he could get the chance to rejuvenate his career after missing the entire 2016-17 campaign.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Brett Gallant, LW: Pure toughness. The 28-year-old has had three 200-plus penalty minute seasons in the AHL and racked up 128 minutes last season in 50 games with the Cleveland Monsters. He’s coming to camp to get another spot in the AHL.
Brady Austin, D: Big defender was able to get a five-game look with the Sabres last season and could be an injury replacement at some point down the road. Don’t expect the 24-year-old to be much more than that this season, however. He’s looking for AHL work.
Joe Pendeza, C: The 26-year-old has bounced back and forth from the AHL to ECHL since departing the NCAA’s UMass-Lowell. He has some scoring ability and notched nine goals and 21 points with the Monsters. He should be back in the AHL next season.
Brad Thiessen, G: Career minor-leaguer earned some looks as a backup in Cleveland last season. He’s going to try to come into camp and solidify his spot as a second-stringer in the AHL, but the 31-year-old won’t be sticking around in the NHL at all.
Miles Koules, C: Finding consistent work in the AHL has been tough, but the 23-year-old’s seven-game stint with the Monsters gives him a shot at earning it this time around. He was a steady producer in major junior and translating that to the pro game is sure to help his case.
R.J. Umberger, LW: A year away from the game means Umberger, 35, will have a lot to prove. He was once a consistent 20-goal scorer before injuries became an issue, so if he rediscovers that form under coach Ken Hitchcock, a familiar face, Umberger might be a candidate for the bottom-six.
Austin Fyten, LW: Winger was a grinder for the AHL club last season, scoring six goals and 12 points, and he’ll likely be heading back to Texas next season. The 26-year-old is a great role player.
DETROIT RED WINGS
P-A Parenteau, RW: Parenteau, who scored 13 goals and 28 points last season, can provide a meager upgrade to the Red Wings’ attack, but the issue is signing him. Detroit has no cap space. The 34-year-old’s best bet might be a good pre-season showing leading to a deal elsewhere.
David Booth, LW: Finding his way back to the NHL after two seasons in the KHL won’t be easy, but Booth, 32, might be able to entice the Red Wings if shows some offensive flash. The concern, again, is where the money comes from. Detroit doesn’t have much, if any, wiggle room.
Matthew Ford, RW: A stellar season by Ford, 32, in 2016-17 saw him score 14 goals and 35 points and follow it up with an eight-goal, 12-point playoff performance. He’s a fixture in the AHL and will be back in Grand Rapids next season.
Colin Campbell, C: Capable checking-line forward chipped in with the Griffins’ Calder Cup champion squad last year with nine goals and 20 points. Like Ford, Campbell is bound for Grand Rapids once he’s done in Red Wings camp.
Mike Borkowski, LW: Role player in the minor leagues in his rookie season after coming out of the NCAA. Borkowski, 25, get a shot at playing tougher competition in camp, but will end up back in Grand Rapids.
Connor Crisp, LW: Spent most of his time last season in the ECHL. The 23-year-old getting a shot in camp to show what he can do and maybe win a job in Grand Rapids for the coming campaign.
Kevin Tansey, D: Defender, 24, had 13 goals and 31 points in his first full ECHL campaign and notched one goal and three points in 19 games with the Chicago Wolves. Heading back to the AHL is likely for Tansey.
Austen Brassard, RW: After some successful seasons in the AHL, Brassard, 24, found himself in the ECHL for the most part last season. He’s fighting not for an NHL gig but to get himself back into the AHL full-time.
Corey Elkins, C: Having spent the past five seasons in the Finnish League, the 32-year-old is trying his hand back in North America. Has some scoring prowess, having notched 42 goals and 129 points in 223 games in Finland.
Pat Nagle, G: He’s been solid in the ECHL, but Nagle, 29, hasn’t been able to really make the jump to the AHL. He’ll be in camp as an option for the Red Wings in the pre-season, but nothing more. Most likely their ECHL starter or AHL backup.
Chris Kelly, C: Veteran can provide a boost to the penalty kill and he’s fearless in his own end, but hard to see where he fits in. Kelly, 36, scored five goals and 12 points for the Ottawa Senators last season, but only suited up in two playoff games.
Brandon Pirri, W: Former Panther returns to Florida hoping to recapture his 20-goal form. Could be a savvy signing given the loss of goal-scoring talent over the summer. Pirri, 26, had eight goals and 18 points with the Rangers last season.
Harry Zolnierczyk, LW: Yo-yoing between the AHL and NHL throughout his career, Zolnierczyk, 30, has been a modest contributor at both levels. Had some great moments during the Predators’ playoff run, scoring one goal and three points. He’s an injury replacement if he signs.
Nikolai Belov, D: Undrafted 30-year-old Russian is trying to make the NHL leap this season. Can contribute offensively — 30 goals, 84 points in 394 career KHL games — and potentially earn himself a spot as a third-pairing blueliner. Unlikely to be much more, though.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Brooks Laich, C: Trying season saw Laich, 34, spend entire year in the minors. He scored one goal and nine points, but still believes he has something to offer. The Kings are looking to change things up and maybe Laich can sneak into the lineup as a fourth-liner.
Brandon Prust, LW: A pesky forechecker and in-your-face player, Prust, 33, spent last year in the German League. His three goals and eight points in 29 games made it a decent statistical season, but if he makes the Kings, it will be due to his physicality.
Chris Lee, D: Led all KHL defensemen and finished sixth in league scoring with 14 goals and 65 points last season. Impressive totals for the 36-year-old, to be sure. There are holes on the Los Angeles blueline to fill, and it’d be great to see what Lee can do given the opportunity.
Andrei Loktionov, C: The 27-year-old is coming off of his best season in the KHL, scoring 12 goals and 27 points. The Kings are looking for more scoring and Loktionov could be an inexpensive option. Can he beat out some of the most established players, though?
Shane Harper, RW: Harper, 28, only has 14 NHL games under his belt, so this is a chance to make the AHL club, if anything. That wouldn’t be a bad deal for Harper, though. He can contribute at that level, and the Valencia, Calif., native can play close to home.
T.J. Hensick, C: No NHL action over the past six seasons and a top contributor with the Kings’ farm team last season. Hensick, 31, is battling for another spot with the Ontario Reign after his team-leading 16-goal, 52-point 2016-17 campaign.
Sam Herr, LW: Also joining camp after a season with the Reign, Herr, 24, had a decent year as an AHL rookie — eight goals and 14 points in 61 games. He’s not going to make the Kings, but as a minor league option, Herr might have a leg up on competition.
Jamie Devane, LW: All but two games of the 26-year-old’s pro career has been spent in the minor leagues. He’s a pesky player and can chip in on offense. His four goals and 13 points were decent totals last season, but he won’t crack the Kings.
Brett Sutter, LW: A capable top-six player in the AHL, but not likely to play above the third-line with the big club. Sutter, 30, spent his entire season with the Reign in 2016-17, scoring 18 goals and 36 points. He should be able to make the AHL roster again.
Phillipe Maillet, C: The 24-year-old has come out of the USports — formerly known as the CIS — to land in the AHL. He only saw eight games with the Reign, but his two goals and four points were promising. The next step is a full-time AHL gig.
Shane Walsh: He hasn’t been able to land even a single game above the ECHL level, but he could get the chance to fight for some AHL work if he continues to produce. Scored 14 goals and 35 points in the ECHL last season.
Daniel Winnik, W: Scored 13 goals and 25 points for the Capitals while playing fourth-line minutes last season, and the 32-year-old is an excellent depth option for the Wild. He’s smart, skilled defensively and can be an awfully useful role player.
Ryan Malone, LW: One of the most bizarre PTOs out there. The 37-year-old hasn’t played since 2014-15, when he skated in 30 games between the Rangers and AHL Hartford Wolf Pack. His hope seems to be an AHL-only deal with a chance to make the US Olympic team.
Eric Gelinas, D: His seven goals and 29 points in 2013-14 had him looking like a solid blueline scorer, but he’s had a tough time maintaining that production. Has bounced between the AHL and NHL, and the 26-year-old might be looking at a two-way deal at best.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Jimmy Hayes, RW: Has the frame to be an imposing power forward, but hasn’t been able to put it together. Two-goal, five-point performance last season in Boston was disappointing, to say the least, but it might be worth it for New Jersey to give the 27-year-old another shot to prove his mettle.
Tim Erixon, D: The Devils do have some holes to fill on the blueline and Erixon could be a fit. A first-round pick in 2009, he has struggled to find a fit in the NHL. Scored four goals and 17 points for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Casey Bailey, RW: A sniper for the Binghamton Senators last season, Bailey, 25, scored 21 goals and 37 points in 62 games. He has NHL size, but unlikely to earn much more than a two-way deal with potential to play a few games here or there for the big club.
Ben Holmstrom, C: Not an offensive star, but the 30-year-old is a good hand to have in the AHL and that’s likely where he lands if the Islanders see him as a fit. A leadership role is a near certainty, too. Captained AHL clubs in five of his past six seasons.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Andrew Desjardins, W: Grinding forward has spent the past two seasons in Chicago. Played limited minutes last season and only managed one point, an assist, in 46 games. Given more ice time, he can contribute. Could honestly fight for a spot as a 13th forward.
Bobby Farnham, LW: The 28-year-old has made his name as a physical super-pest. He piles up the penalty minutes and will throw the body on anything that moves. With Glass gone, Farnham could be the replacement.
Chris VandeVelde, LW: The 30-year-old is best in a fourth-line role and can provide some offense while playing there. Potted six goals and 15 points with the Flyers last season and has 18 goals and 48 points in 278 career games. He’s an NHL option with Kelly moving on.
Brendan Woods, LW: Brought aboard as an AHL addition. His 6-foot-4 frame is sure to stand out. He’ll get the chance to show his stuff in training camp, but if he lands anywhere, it’s going to be the with Baby Sens.
Charles-David Beaudoin, D: Fresh out of Canadian college, Beaudoin saw 11 games between the ECHL and AHL last season. He’s not big, but he can make some plays. He put up two assists in six games in Binghamton and has earned himself a look at full-time AHL duty.
Kyle Flanagan, C: Seasons in the AHL and one year in the SHL have proven that Flanagan, 28, can contribute at the pro level. Just don’t expect that to mean the NHL. He’s coming after an AHL spot. Nothing more.
Jack Rodewald, RW: Was able to light the lamp 18 times last season, his first with Senators’ farm team, and the 23-year-old, who is only three years into his pro career, is eying up another season in the AHL.
Jay McClement, C: Defensive-minded center has been an NHL fixture for more than a decade. If the Penguins want some depth down the middle, the 34-year-old can surely provide it. Scored five goals and eight points in Carolina last season.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Ty Loney, RW: Majority of last season was spent in the ECHL, but the 25-year-old put up decent numbers in a 20-game showing with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. If he can show some scoring punch in camp, getting a deal in the AHL is more than realistic.
Mike McKee, D: Fresh out of Western Michigan University, the 24-year-old is getting a look from the Blues. It might not be much more than that, though. He could provide AHL depth, but he won’t be in the NHL next season.
Scottie Upshall, LW: Turned a training camp stint in St. Louis into a two-year stay, scoring 16 goals and 32 points in 143 games for the Blues. Now, he moves on to Vancouver. The 33-year-old winger has what it takes to get another deal, too.
Ryan White, RW: Don’t expect him to wow with his offense in training camp, but White, 29, has carved out a career as a role player. He scored nine goals and 16 points last season between the Wild and Coyotes and earned ice time during the playoffs in Minnesota, too.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Kenney Morrison, D: There’s no space for defensemen in the NHL, so the 25-year-old, who has spent two seasons on Calgary’s farm, is gunning for a job with the Chicago Wolves. He might have more competition in Chicago than anywhere else, though.
Bryce Gervais, RW: Another AHLer coming to ply his trade in training camp. Gervais, 25, had some stellar seasons in the NCAA and scored 13 goals and 21 points for the Wolves last season. He’ll most likely be back in Chicago in 2017-18.
Stepehen MacAulay, LW: Three years in USports led MacAulay, 25, to a shot at ECHL and AHL duty last year. He’s bound for the minors again this season, too, but the question is whether he impresses enough to land a spot with the Wolves or if he’s ECHL bound again.
Alex Chiasson, RW: A no-risk, potentially high-reward addition on a tryout deal. Chiasson, 26, scored 12 goals and 24 points in Calgary, and if he can continue to put his game together, he can use his big frame to turn into a handy power forward. Definitely worth a long look.
Jyrki Jokipakka, D: While Jokipakka, 26, has the size to be a worthwhile addition to the blueline, his game has never translated to consistent NHL minutes. If the Capitals decide to bring him aboard, chances are Jokipakka is only brought up from the AHL in times of need.
Patrice Cormier, C: The Manitoba Moose captain last season. Cormier, 27, was able to chip in as a pesky forward and he should be able to do so again this season. An NHL contract seems unlikely, but an AHL deal — and a shot at the Olympics — isn’t out of the question.
Brody Sutter, C: No consistent NHL work for one of the many offspring in the Sutter clan, but the 25-year-old has been able to keep finding spots in the AHL. He’ll have a chance to get another one in Manitoba.
Francis Beauvillier, LW: The 23-year-old came out of the University of New Brunswick and put up four goals and five points in nine games with the Moose to end the year. That was enough to earn him another look. If he takes advantage of it, he can land himself an AHL deal.
Peter Stoykewych, D: Winnipeg native scored five goals and 20 points from the blueline last season and is likely to be brought back as an AHL rearguard. It would make for a third tour of duty with the Jets’ minor-league club.
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