The closer we get to training camp, the less likely veteran players still without one are to receive a guaranteed contract for 2016-17. Indeed, a lot of quality NHL-caliber players will have to earn a job by way of a professional tryout (PTO). Several players have already gone that route as our PTO tracker shows, while some teams are still discussing their available options and determining who they may extend invites to.
On that front, Mike Russo writes that Minnesota’s brain trust is considering adding “one or two forwards to professional tryouts.” He points out that the Wild only have 10 forwards signed to one-way contracts giving the club room to add more competition to the group if they are so inclined. Russo adds that head coach Bruce Boudreau has already communicated to Chuck Fletcher, Minnesota’s GM, that he would like to “get bigger and tougher and stronger.”
Russo lists Paul Gaustad, Steve Downie, Lauri Korpikoski and R.J Umberger as possible PTO targets for the Wild. Although it appears we can dismiss the possibility of Gaustad joining Minnesota, or anyone else for that matter, as it has been said the veteran center is set to announce his retirement. Kyle Chipchura, David Legwand and Tuomo Ruutu could also fit Boudreau’s criteria but those options are purely speculative at this point.
- Count Florida among the teams giving serious consideration to adding more veteran talent via PTO to compete for jobs. According to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel, Panthers GM Tom Rowe told him Florida’s management team is “discussing possible veterans to bring in to camp.” Fialkov later added that head coach Gerard Gallant would prefer to add a veteran depth defenseman prior to the preseason. Florida was one of the summer’s most active teams and is aiming to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. It makes sense they would continue to try to add depth to bolster their chances and further guard against injury. The Panthers of course invested heavily in their defense corps this summer and still have rookie Michael Matheson – who we profiled here – and veteran Steve Kampfer to complement the top-six. Yet adding additional competition does make sense, particularly on a no-risk PTO. One wonders whether Jakub Nakladal – PHR analyzed his free agent case here – would be an option given he is a favorite of the analytics community and considering Florida’s recent shift to a more analytically-inclined front office but again, that’s just conjecture.
- Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli continues his campaign to justify the team’s acquisition of D Adam Larsson in exchange for high-scoring LW Taylor Hall. Writing for Today’s Slap Shot, Chris Nichols provides several quotes from a recent interview Chiarelli did with 630 CHED radio in Edmonton. Chiarelli reiterated that the deal was simply the “cost of doing business,” as part of the club’s efforts to address their defensive shortcomings. He added: “Our fans, once they see Adam, they’ll see what we see in him. Any time you trade a player like Taylor, it’s going to have reverberations throughout the local hockey community through our fan base, and it did.” Credit to Chiarelli for sticking with his convictions. It isn’t easy to make a decision you already know will be an unpopular one but his job is to make the Edmonton Oilers a better team and to do so, the organization had to upgrade the blue line. Evidently Chiarelli and Co. felt this was the best deal they could make to accomplish that objective.