Training camps are achingly close on the horizon, which means that teams across the league are making some last-minute additions to their rosters to perhaps uncover a diamond in the rough.
In other words: It's PTO season, baby!
This past weekend was filled with a flurry of professional tryout offers extended to multiple players still on the open market. So, let's look at the most notable ones and determine what each team could get in their camp invitee.
But before that, take a look at Part 1.
Daniel Sprong - Seattle Kraken
2021-22 Stat Line: 63 GP, 14 goals, 6 assists, 20 points, 12:59 TOI
There was a time when Daniel Sprong looked like a future middle-six contributor at the NHL level.
That time has long since passed.
Sprong has bounced around for the past few years after beginning his career in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, spending stints with the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, and, most recently, the Seattle Kraken. Neither stop saw the former second-round pick establish himself as the player he was pegged to be, but Sprong always found a way to chip in 10-15 goals whenever he managed to play over 45 games.
For a low price, that's not terrible production, especially given that he managed to do it with very little ice time. Sprong isn't a flashy addition by any stretch. But he does come cheap, has a nose for the net, and could be a fine worker bee on a contending team's depth line. The Kraken aren't quite there yet. But Sprong's familiarity with the coaching staff and front office should help his cause for a contract.
Derick Brassard - Ottawa Senators
2021-22 Stat Line: 46 GP, 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points, 12:55 TOI
Another PTO signee looking for a second tour of duty with a former team, Brassard enters Senators camp with the unfortunate distinction of being the central return in one of the worst trades in club history, headlining the package that came Ottawa's way in exchange for Mika Zibanejad back in 2016.
The careers of both players have taken drastically different paths since then.
Zibanejad has blossomed into a legitimate superstar for New York. At the same time, Brassard struggled to remain a productive middle-six center and has since seen himself bounce around between seven different teams over the past 10 seasons.
Brassard most recently spent time with the Edmonton Oilers after being dealt by the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, appearing in 15 games for the club down the stretch and finishing his stint with two goals and one assist for three points in just shy of 13 minutes of nightly ice time.
The silver lining is that Brassard's underlying numbers aren't terrible if you squint hard enough. During his 15-game stretch for the Oilers last season, Brassard finished with a very respectable 53.01 percent share of the expected goals during his even-strength usage, while nearly breaking even in the scoring chance department, as well.
At this point, Brassard is not a regular NHLer. Not for a good team, at least. But as a 13th or 14th forward, there are far worse veterans to take a flier on.
Michael Dal Colle - Ottawa Senators
2021-22 Stat Line: 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 14:34 TOI
Michael Dal Colle was chosen with the fifth pick in the 2014 NHL draft. Eight years later, he's played just 112 NHL games with a mere eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points to show for it in five big-league seasons.
That should tell you all you need to know about why he's fighting for a contract.
Dal Colle has struggled mightily to carve out a role for himself at hockey's highest level. In his most active season, coming in 2019-20 when he played 53 games, Dal Colle managed to top out at just four goals and six assists for 10 points while logging a paltry 11:48 in nightly ice time.
Simply put, Dal Colle has never been used consistently in the NHL, never made the most of the scant usage he's been given, and is now dangerously close to finding himself without a job for next season.
Still, Dal Colle is just 26 years old, clearly hungry to continue his career, and had to have shown some sort of potential as a hockey player to become a top-five pick. Perhaps there's some skill hidden under the surface that the Islanders were unable to extract. The Senators, who are hoping to take the next step as a club this season, are giving him a shot to prove it.
Thomas Hickey - New Jersey Devils
2021-22 Stat Line: 2 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 19:29 TOI
Another formerly high Islanders draft pick hoping to earn a contract, Hickey has spent the bulk of his time in the AHL over the past two seasons, most recently putting up 18 points in 41 games with the Bridgeport Islanders and Ontario Reign.
The AHL is very likely where Hickey will end up in 2022-23. The 33-year-old has struggled to keep up with the pace of the NHL game as he's entered his 30s and will be vying for a job on a Devils' blueline that is already crowded with big-league talent as it is.
As an effective veteran AHL defender, Hickey is the perfect addition to help mentor the likes of Simon Nemec and Kevin Bahl, both of whom could spend time in the American League this year.
Cody Eakin - Calgary Flames
2021-22 Stat Line: 69 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 13:35 TOI
By every metric, Cody Eakin is no longer a regular NHLer.
The 31-year-old has not topped 16 points in a season since 2018-19, has seen his ice time drop consistently over the past few years, and is not exactly an analytics darling. In 69 games for the Buffalo Sabres last season, Eakin posted a dreadful 41. 60 percent share of the expected goals and 41.70 percent share of the scoring chances at five-on-five while adding very little in the realm of offensive value with just four goals and 12 points as a strict fourth liner.
Perhaps Eakin can find a newfound depth role in Darryl Sutter's system, which recently made Erik Gudbranson a serviceable NHL defender. But if he can't make it in Calgary, who tend to overvalue low-event grunts like Eakin, it's unlikely he'll stick anywhere else.