It’s been a whirlwind month for consummate pro Jay McClement. The veteran center was very nearly the winner of the third-line center sweepstakes for the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Instead, the team released him to the surprise of many after an impressive effort in the team’s preseason finale. Now, less than thirty days later, McClement has finally found employment – with EHC Olten of the NLB.
The Swiss National League B, the relative minor league to much more well-known NLA, seems like an odd landing spot for a veteran of more than 900 NHL games. However, the team has confirmed the signing (link in Swiss) with much excitement. The contract is only for 2017-18, but holds a mutual option for next season. Could McClement exercise that option? He is 34, far from his prime, but just a few years ago played one of his best seasons – an 82-game, 21-point 2014-15 campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes. McClement seems to have some gas left in the tank, so an extended stay in the Swiss minors would be surprising. However, McClement could more or less be done with hockey and sees Olten as a “retirement job”.
Olten isn’t completely unknown. The NLB squad in a perennial contender and rosters to other NHL veterans, Americans Tim Stapleton and Ryan Vesce. Neither has skated in the league since 2010, but nevertheless bring an experience and style that McClement could work with.
If it doesn’t work out? There’s a chance that McClement could be a contender for a bottom-six role for Team Canada at the Olympics, which would take up a significant amount of his time over the course of this season. Then, when his contract expires, don’t be surprised if McClement declines his offer and tries again at one last chance in the NHL.