2014: The Year of the Professional Tryout

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It is a long and tough summer for free agents who don’t get offered new contracts on the open market.  Uncertainty about their future creeps in and leads to many sleepless nights.  The combination of a lower salary cap than expected, the resurgence of a faster game dominated by younger players, and prior contract obligations all factored into many teams not being able to offer many players deals.  A player’s dwindling production level or having a recent history of injuries could have a big impact on management’s decision not to offer a guaranteed contract.

A Professional Tryout (PTO) gives a player an opportunity to attend training camp in attempt to make the roster.  Nothing is guaranteed and they can be cut at any point for any reason.  If they prove themselves worthy of helping the team, they can earn a contract to be negotiated.  The tryout also gives management a first hand view of the player’s skills and how they could fit in on the team if an injury occurs or roster spot opens up during the season.  This contract is likely to be a short term deal (mainly 1 year) and for small money (less than $1M) but is a much better option than sitting at home and not playing hockey.

Current List of Player’s on PTO’s (in bold are my predictions to make the team and an explanation why afterwardsi, strikethrough means the player has been released from tryout):

Anaheim – F Steve MacIntyre, G Etienne Marcoux

Arizona – F Matt Kassian, F Krys Barch, D Jamie McBain (Eventually signed with LA), D Matt Smaby.  Kassian is a talented forward who could have an impact if paired currently in Arizona.

Boston – F Simon Gagne, F Ville Leino.  The Bruins are up against the salary cap wall which I wrote about last week.  Cheap production from Gagne could really help them go a long way this season.

Calgary – F Trevor Gillies, D Sheldon Brookbank

Chicago – D Cam Barker

Detroit – D Aaron Rome.  Rome would add great defensive depth for a Detroit team that struggled at times last season.

Edmonton – F Kevin Westgarth.  Westgarth won the Stanley Cup with LA in 2012 and would bring experience and leadership to a young and talented Oilers team.

Florida – D Shane O’Brien

Los Angeles – G Jeff Deslauriers

Minnesota – G Ilya Bryzgalov (Eventually signed with ANA).  With Minnesota announcing Josh Harding’s ankle injury, Bryzgalov would be a cheap, capable backup in the meantime.

Montreal – D Francis Bouillon

Nashville – D Brian Lee

New Jersey – F Ruslan Fedotenko, F Scott Gomez, F Jordin Tootoo, D Mike Komisarek, D Tomas Kaberle.  It seems like the Devils are holding open tryouts this year which isn’t a bad thing considering they missed the playoffs by 5 points last season and are looking to get over that hump.  Komisarek would bring defensive depth to New Jersey.

NY Rangers – G Johan Hedberg

Philadelphia – F Dan Cleary (Eventually signed with DET)

Pittsburgh – F Chuck Kobasew, F Dan Carcillo (Eventually signed with CHI).  Kobasew is a talented forward with the knack for the net, could be dangerous if paired with some of Pittsburgh’s top guns.

St. Louis – F Paul Bissonnette

Toronto – D Henrik Tallinder

Vancouver – F J.T. Wyman

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