With training camps now less than two weeks away, the tryout market is about to really get active. With that in mind, here are some names to watch for and a few teams that will likely be looking to add a PTO or two on the back end in the days to come.
Cody Franson – Franson is coming off of a down year with Buffalo and after overpricing himself in free agency two years ago, it’s fair to wonder if that has happened again. If he has to go the PTO route, it’s likely he’ll look for a team that can give him the most playing time. Chicago has been reported in the past as a team that would have interest in bringing him to camp.
John-Michael Liles – His time with Boston didn’t go as well as either side hoped for but Liles is still someone who can help with the man advantage. He may be best suited as a 6/7 that’s in and out of the lineup which is exactly the type of player that a lot of teams sign to PTO deals at this time.
Roman Polak – The former Maple Leaf is recovering well from leg surgery and has started to skate again. He can still play regular minutes on a third pairing and penalty kill which should have a few teams kicking the tires.
Fedor Tyutin – He didn’t have a great year with Colorado but to be fair, that can be said for a lot of Avalanche players last season. He’s not that far removed from being a second pairing player but in the right system, he should still be able to play on a bottom pairing and contribute.
Dennis Wideman – While he’s not likely to put up 56 points again like he did two years ago, Wideman could still be a contributor on the power play while being capable of eating more minutes than others on this list.
With Jakob Chychrun out of the lineup indefinitely (he hasn’t resumed skating yet), there’s a hole on the back end for the Coyotes. Their top internal candidates are Joel Hanley and Andrew Campbell, players who have seen NHL action in the past but haven’t fared all that well when given the opportunity. Alternatively, they could look to try to sign someone to a two-way contract with the hopes of sending that player to the minors when Chychrun is ready to return.
There are likely to be a couple of spots up for grabs at training camp with prospects Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, and international free agent signing Jan Rutta the likely candidates vying for those positions at the moment. As a team that has brought in veterans to try to fill out their defensive corps in recent years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them bring someone in to compete with the youngsters and give them a bit more depth at the position.
This one is pretty obvious. As things stand, they have all of three regular blueliners under contract and one of those, Mark Barberio, cleared waivers at the beginning of last season (the Avs plucked him off waivers midseason). If they can reach a deal with Nikita Zadorov, that will certainly help and youngsters like Andrei Mironov and Chris Bigras will push for spots but there is certainly room for a tryout or two…or three.
The Kings have already added one PTO blueliner in Chris Lee so far but they have some unproven players that are projected to fill out their bottom couple of spots. If they want a prospect like Paul Ladue to spend more time in the minors, they’d be a team that would want to bring a veteran in to compete for a spot.
The Capitals have lost three notable blueliners this summer in Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, and Kevin Shattenkirk and haven’t replaced them with any experienced players. As things stand, they have only five rearguards with any sort of notable NHL playing time under their belts with prospects such as Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos, among others likely to push for a roster spot. It would make sense for Washington to hedge against their prospects not being quite ready by bringing in a veteran or two. However, there would need to be some sort of agreement in place that they’d play for close to the league minimum of $650K considering their current cap situation.