Free agency doesn’t always work the way a player hopes it does. Every year, a handful of established veterans struggle to find contracts, and have to prove themselves all over again in training camp to get themselves on a team’s roster. Here are five players who may be looking at that possibility.
- Brad Boyes: Boyes fought went to training camp and fought for a contract with the Maple Leafs last year, after being bought out by the Florida Panthers. The eight goals, 24 points in 60 games he put up were less than stellar, and he’s 34 years old now, but he’s got a long history of scoring, and he was averaging under 12 minutes a game in Toronto. He’s got a good history of point production, and even with a decline, would be worth a look for a team that wants to gain some scoring on the margin.
- RJ Umberger: It’s been a rough couple of years for RJ Umberger. Since being dealt back to Philadelphia for Scott Hartnell in 2014, the 34 year old has totalled 12 goals, 26 points in 106 games. He was bought by the Flyers in June. There’s really no telling if Umberger can rehabilitate his career, but a five-time 20 goal scorer with size and a physical edge is usually going to get at least a look.
- Radim Vrbata: Vrbata needing this opportunity already is a little baffling. He’s had one off year when healthy in a decade, and he’s a reliable offensive option. 13 goals and 27 points might not look like a ton, but the Canucks struggled a lot, and his shooting percentage was far below normal. Couple that with the fact that he played just 63 games, and there’s reason to think that even at 35, Vrbata could be able to provide some value for the right team.
- James Wisniewski: It’s so much harder to establish yourself in camp as a defenseman, because so much of what they do is so subtle. Positioning and pokechecks don’t let you stand out in a desperate situation. Wisniewski though, has far fewer of these problems. He’s long been a solid offensive presence, and despite being just 5’11”, he plays a decent physical game as well. He’ll have trouble getting a deal before a tryout, because he missed 81 games last year with a knee injury, but if you’re looking for bodies on the blueline, his direction would be a good place to look.
- Alex Tanguay : It’s surprisingly easy to forget just how good a career Alex Tanguay has had. Despite some injuries and some bad teams, as well as bouncing around the league, by the age of 37, he’s been able to put up 283 goals, 863 points in 1088 career games. He struggled last year on an Avalanche team that had issues all over, but then put up four goals and 13 points in 18 games after being traded to the Arizona Coyotes. Considering his long history of scoring, if Tanguay wants one last shot to play in the NHL, he should certainly be able to find someone to give him that shot.