Just last season Justin Falk was a semi-regular player for the Buffalo Sabres, suiting up for 46 games and giving them some extra size on the blue line. After being allowed to leave via unrestricted free agency, Falk spent training camp with the Calgary Flames on a professional tryout (PTO), trying to show someone around the league that he still had enough skill to compete in the NHL. He’s going to try that again, after signing a PTO with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL yesterday.
Falk, 30, has played in 269 regular season games since being selected 110th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2007. The 6’5″ defenseman has never been much of an offensive presence, but has found himself routinely inserted into the lineup of whatever team he was playing for to give them a bottom pairing option and presence on the penalty kill. While not overly effective, he’s certainly been fine depth for the Wild, Sabres and both New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. The fact that he hasn’t even played this season on an AHL deal likely means he’s trying hard to work out a two-way contract with an NHL club, given that there are many minor league affiliations that could use his experience on a nightly basis.
If all goes well on the Colorado PTO, you may see Falk signed at some point as a depth option for a team looking to make a deep playoff run. At the very worst, he’ll be able to continue his playing career in the minor leagues and try to show someone enough to keep him on next season. The veteran defenseman has a history of winning at the lower levels, taking home a Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs and a Calder Cup with the Lake Erie Monsters. Even if his game has slowed a step, it would be surprising to see him forced out of professional hockey so soon.