Simon Despres was offered a contract by the AHL’s Laval Rocket before this season began, but opted not to sign with the team. After spending a couple of months examining his options, the veteran defenseman has decided to take them up on their offer after all. Except now, the deal is just on a tryout basis. Laval announced today that Despres has signed a PTO with the team. Despres, a former first-round pick and NHL regular with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, struggled with injuries and was more or less forced out of the league in recent years. After finally returning to full health last season and performing well with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava, Despres expressed an interest in returning to the NHL this year. Interestingly, he specifically mentioned his interest in the relatively new AHL franchise in his hometown of Laval and eventually signed a PTO with the Montreal Canadiens this summer in hopes of landing a two-way contract where he could play in Laval and potentially work his way onto the Habs’ roster. He fell short of that goal, but a one-way AHL contract with the Rocket seemed like the next-best thing. Hopefully it’s not too late to land a real contract with Laval.
- The official camp roster for Sweden’s World Juniors entry will be announced tomorrow. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the luxury of knowing two of their prospects – defensemen Tim Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin – will be selected to the team. The Leafs also have the luxury of ample depth that will allow them to send both to the tournament without a second thought, reports Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun. With the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this season, Sandin leads all defensemen on the team with four goals despite playing in all twelve games, while Liljegren has been arguably the team’s top defensive defenseman. Neither of the two look quite ready for the NHL just yet, but are well on their way.
- Not many players have the clarity and foresight about their own status to predict when they’ll be traded, but a respected veteran like Mats Zuccarello does. The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis relays a report from a journalist in Zuccarello’s native Norway that Zuccarello believes a trade is more likely than him finishing out the year in New York. A career Ranger, Zuccarello is likely upset about the end of his time with the team coming, but as a pending free agent on a rebuilding club, he was likely moving on one way or another. Zuccarello will likely be a coveted piece at the trade deadline.