It’s now September and, other than a handful of cases, unrestricted free agents who are still unsigned are likely going to have to earn an NHL contract in training camp. While the major storyline around the league remains unsigned RFA’s, there is still plenty of talent available on the open market. Some players are simply sitting on offers though, waiting to make a decision. For example, decorated veterans like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Niklas Kronwall and perhaps even Dion Phaneuf and Thomas Vanek are not playing on PTO’s. Neither are players rumored to have considerable interest, such as Jake Gardiner and Ben Hutton. That still leaves a lot of ability still searching for NHL employment though.
The best part of a PTO is that it mitigates risk. A player on a tryout is not (yet) taking up a roster spot or salary cap space and their injury history doesn’t matter as much, without any commitment beyond training camp. The tryout process simply allows players to show what they can bring to a team during practices and preseason games on the off chance that their performance in fact warrants a contract. Some teams may lean toward inviting a veteran, both to provide some leadership during camp but also to see what he has left in the tank. Others will invite a younger, prime-age player coming off of a down season, doing their due diligence on whether he might be worth a second chance. There’s also the frequent case of some teams simply checking available players against internal options when it comes to establishing depth for the season. With that in mind, which player would you most like your favorite team to take a look at on a PTO?
Veteran Forwards: Brian Boyle, Troy Brouwer, Drew Stafford, Jamie McGinn, Micheal Haley
Prime Forwards: Riley Sheahan, Magnus Paajarvi, Tobias Rieder, Devante Smith-Pelly, Rourke Chartier
Veteran Defensemen: Dan Girardi, Adam McQuaid, David Schlemko, Eric Gryba
Prime Defensemen: Michael Stone, Joe Morrow, Fredrik Claesson
Goaltenders: Scott Darling, Chad Johnson
Of these players, which one is most worthy of a risk-free look in camp in hopes of finding a surprise contributor for the 2019-20 season?
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