We think of rookies when think of players who fail to make their team out of camp, or at very least players on tryout deals. But a player having tenure and a contract isn’t necessarily a guarantee of anything. Players aren’t “cut” like they are in football, since there are assigned buyout periods. There are, however, demotions, re-assignments, or on rare occasion, some players are just told to go home. Here’s a rundown of a few guys who shouldn’t go to camp complacently.
- Steve Ott – The Red Wings are packed with forwards, 16 of them in fact, and the signing of Ott is likely to force a younger player to earn his spot rather than have it handed to him. At 34, Ott played just 21 games for the Blues last year, registering two assists. His salary is also low enough to be buried in the AHL. He’ll stand a fighting chance, but he’ll have to grab hold of it.
- Ondrej Pavelec – Pavelec has had an above average save percentage just once since the Jets moved to Winnipeg, and some observers give him a big share of the blame for their lack of success. He played just 33 games last year, mostly due to injury. The Jets also have two of the best goaltending prospects in hockey in Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie. Pavelec has been insulated by his big contract for a while now, but with just one year left on that deal, it’s possible to imagine there’s less pressure in Winnipeg to get something out of it.
- Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Brooks Laich, and Joffrey Lupul – We’ll combine these four to get all the Leafs out of the way at once. The Leafs have a ton of players. Especially at forward. Michalek, Greening, and Laich were all short-term make-weights in recent deals to dump salary and acquire prospects, while Lupul is a holdover from the last regime. GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t even sure Lupul can play hockey again. The Leafs also have kids like William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Connor Brown, Brendan Leipsic, Zach Hyman, Kerby Rychel, and Nikita Soshnikov who all either got a taste of the NHL last year, or are expected to this year. It’s hard to imagine none are on the opening night roster, Greening was impressive after being acquired from the Senators. That said, the best hope any individually has is that the team decides they aren’t playoff ready yet, and plays them in hopes of a deadline move.