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Larry Fisher The Hockey Writers

Published on Thursday, September 14, 2017

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PTO Predictions Revisited: Landing Spots for 67 UFAs

Training camps are now open. Preseason games start on Saturday already.

Yet, there are 50-plus players, arguably of NHL-calibre, still seeking contracts for the upcoming campaign — enough to ice a roster in Seattle. Make it happen, Mr. Bettman.

Kidding aside, this is a serious time for those free agents looking for work into September and not wanting to be left on the sidelines come October.

Slowly but surely, many are accepting their fate of auditioning for employment by signing PTOs — professional tryouts.

This happens every year, but the number of players impacted appears to be climbing, with more and more teams paying their top talents a premium and rounding out their rosters with cheap rookies.

That trend is forcing all the middle-men into an awkward spot, especially as they approach or surpass 30 years of age. There simply isn’t much room for mediocrity anymore, at least not at an “average” salary — a cost exceeding entry-level contracts.

It doesn’t necessarily matter whether those types can “still play”, but more so whether they are willing to play for pennies on the dollar. Those who might have fallen into that $2- to $5-million range a few years back are now, in some cases, being offered six-figures or even two-way deals.

That’s the direction the pay structure is heading until the salary cap starts rising substantially again, or perhaps until the next round of collective bargaining. Maybe whatever happens first.

Nevertheless, PTOs are becoming commonplace towards the end of summer. In late August, as the first handful were being reluctantly accepted, I attempted to predict 62 PTOs — two for each of the 31 teams — plus the landing spots for the five biggest names still lingering on the open market at that time. I felt those five were too established to accept a tryout, which has so far proven true.

Flash forward a few weeks, only two of those big names remain available and a couple dozen of my PTO candidates have committed to attend camps, without any commitment in return.

Here’s an update on the PTO landscape around the league, first from an individual player perspective and then from a team outlook.

First Things First: The Big 5

(Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Thomas Vanek (RW)

PREDICTION: Buffalo

RESULT: Vancouver (signed on Sept. 1, one-year, one-way, $2 million)

ANALYSIS: A good fit for both player and team. Vanek will get plenty of ice-time, top nine on a scoring line at even strength and a power-play role. Vancouver won’t have to rush Brock Boeser if he’s not ready, and Jim Benning can flip Vanek for a decent draft pick to further the rebuild — assuming the Canucks aren’t contending for a playoff berth at the trade deadline. This should be a win-win, as long as Vanek scores some goals and helps show Boeser the ropes.

(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Drew Stafford (RW)

PREDICTION: Boston

RESULT: New Jersey (signed on Aug. 25, one-year, one-way, $800,000)

ANALYSIS: This probably wasn’t Stafford’s first choice, reportedly waiting on offers from Boston and/or Minnesota, but both those teams ran out of money. Instead, New Jersey came calling with ample cap space and roster spots for top-nine wingers. Not an ideal situation for Stafford, but he can still make the best of his new surroundings.

Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes, Coyotes Signing Shane Doan

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Shane Doan (RW)

PREDICTION: Washington

RESULT: Retired (on Aug. 30)

ANALYSIS: Of the big five, Doan was the likeliest to retire and seemed to be declining the fastest, so this shouldn’t come as much surprise. Some teams kicked tires on the former Arizona Coyotes’ captain, but ultimately there were no suitors and Doan decided to hang them up after 1,595 career games (with exactly 1,000 points, counting playoffs, including 417 goals). Seems like an appropriate time to call it quits, having spent his entire 21-year career with the same franchise (Winnipeg-Arizona).

(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaromir Jagr (RW)

PREDICTION: Calgary

RESULT: Still Available

ANALYSIS: This is becoming Bizarro World, with most expecting Jagr to re-sign in Florida, then to sign somewhere on July 1, then to sign anywhere in August, but now all bets are off. Calgary would have made sense — needing somebody other than Micheal Ferland to flank Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau — but that failed to come to fruition and has since cooled off. Arizona has heated up a little bit lately, which could also make sense as a mentor for all the young forwards there. Everywhere makes sense for Jagr, to some degree — even expansion Vegas, for his marketability and star power as a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer. Yet, it’s starting to sound like Jagr could start the season playing back home in the Czech Republic and perhaps represent his country in the Olympics in February before returning to the NHL for the stretch run. That would be a bit of a shame, considering the potential for Jagr to break Gordie Howe’s record for career games played this season — Jagr, at 1,711, is 56 games shy of Howe’s 1,767. The longer he goes unsigned, the more I think Jagr must be asking for too much money or being too picky because, although he’s slowed down, he’s still effective on the ice — producing 46 points (16 goals) for the Panthers while playing all 82 games last season. Please, somebody sign the legend. Anybody.

(Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Jarome Iginla (RW)

PREDICTION: Edmonton

RESULT: Still Available

ANALYSIS: Apparently spotted at the New York Islanders’ practice facility, prompting speculation that Garth Snow will sign Iginla as early as today or sooner than later. A return to Alberta was also believed to be a possibility — with both Calgary and Edmonton lacking depth and proven options on right wing — but those rumours have died down a bit. The Islanders seem like an strange fit but, hey, Ryan Smyth wound up playing for them after being the face of the Oilers’ franchise, so maybe the former face of the Flames will be bound for Brooklyn too.


Best of the Rest — The PTOs

Cody Franson

(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Cody Franson (RD)

PREDICTION: Chicago

RESULT: Chicago (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Nailed it! Well, maybe I shouldn’t be bragging since — spoiler alert — this is the only PTO I’ve got right so far. That’s right, 1-for-62 as of today. And, admittedly, Franson to Chicago wasn’t an original idea by any stretch of the imagination. This PTO had been rumoured on the interwebs for weeks, if not months before it became a reality. Franson waited until Sept. 7 to fully commit to Chicago, with Edmonton also reportedly interested at the time of his decision. Chicago has two or three spots available on its defence depth chart and Franson is a strong bet to claim one of them. I’d say the odds of Franson signing there are upwards of 80 per cent. However, it’s worth noting that players remain free agents throughout the PTO process and Edmonton, or anybody else, could still offer Franson a contract in the meantime — much like how Calgary stole Kris Versteeg from Edmonton’s training camp last year.

Brandon Pirri

(Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Brandon Pirri (C/LW)

PREDICTION: Edmonton

RESULT: Florida (PTO)

ANALYSIS: I’ve listed these PTOs in order of the likelihood of earning a contract with said team. Pirri had his best NHL season with Florida — scoring 22 goals in just 49 games in 2014-15, prorated to 37 goals over 82 games — and the Panthers could certainly use more scoring on the wings without Jagr, Vanek, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen from last season’s roster. That’s five of Florida’s top-six wingers, replaced by the likes of Radim Vrbata, Evgeny Dadonov and Henrik Haapala. The latter two aren’t proven in North America, so Pirri should definitely be in the mix for a contract. I’ll give him a 70 per cent chance of sticking with the Panthers.

Scottie Upshall

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Scottie Upshall (LW)

PREDICTION: Dallas

RESULT: Vancouver (PTO)

ANALYSIS: This one is closer to 50-50, just because Vancouver has so many extra forwards in camp and many of them are already signed to one-way contracts, but I’ll give Upshall the benefit of doubt since I definitely think he’s still an NHL player. New coach Travis Green has mentioned wanting a hard-to-play-against fourth line, rather than rolling four offensive-minded lines, so that should bode well for Upshall’s chances of carving out a role. I’ll say 60 per cent, but Derek Dorsett is healthy again and Ryan White is also attending Vancouver’s camp on a PTO, so Upshall may have to outplay both to be a regular in the Canucks’ lineup. Upshall’s versatility should be enough to warrant a press-box spot if nothing else, albeit at the right price.

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Daniel Winnik (C/LW)

PREDICTION: Chicago

RESULT: Minnesota (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Another 60 per center, with Winnik a serviceable bottom-sixer, but Minnesota is bumping up against the cap. There should be enough flexibility to get a six-figure deal done, but if Winnik wants $1 million or more, then that contract may have to come from elsewhere. The Wild are already deep up front, with prospects pushing for spots too, so Chuck Fletcher won’t have to overpay for Winnik. Quite the opposite, with Winnik needing to buy into Minnesota’s budget while also believing in the Wild’s chances of winning this season.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

P-A Parenteau (RW)

PREDICTION: Florida

RESULT: Detroit (PTO)

ANALYSIS: If Andreas Athanasiou continues to hold out and play the KHL card, Parenteau’s chances will increase once camp opens. Even then, the odds would only be about 55-45 in favour of signing with Detroit, but Ken Holland could theoretically do the same with Parenteau as Vancouver with Vanek — sign him for the sole purpose of flipping him at the deadline, providing the Red Wings are a non-factor in the Eastern Conference. That seems like a foregone conclusion, with or without Athanasiou and/or Parenteau.

Roman Polak

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Roman Polak (RD)

PREDICTION: New Jersey

RESULT: Toronto (PTO)

ANALYSIS: There is obviously a level of familiarity, as well as loyalty, at play with this PTO. The Leafs know Polak and have brought him back before. Mike Babcock trusts Polak and appreciates the way he put his body on the line for the Leafs in the playoffs. It sounds like Polak has overcome that injury and is healthy to start camp. Problem is, the Leafs signed a couple Swedes in Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman to compete for a depth role, along with returnee Martin Marincin and top prospect Travis Dermott. Polak plays a meaner game than any of them, so that style and snarl will give him a fighting chance in camp, but he’s still 50-50 to earn another contract with Toronto. Polak potentially re-signing with the Leafs reminds me of Eric Gryba returning to the Oilers just before last year’s camp. There is still a place in the league for this type of rearguard in a supporting role.

Chris Lee (LD)

PREDICTION: New Jersey

RESULT: Los Angeles (PTO)

ANALYSIS: This is a really intriguing 50-50 tryout, with the 37-year-old Lee trying to make his NHL debut after dominating the KHL last season. There is opportunity in Los Angeles, competing against younger talents like Kevin Gravel, Christian Folin and Paul LaDue. Lee will have to outplay at least one and probably two of those defenders in training camp. It’s doable, but it’s 50-50.

Teddy Purcell

(Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Teddy Purcell (RW)

PREDICTION: Tampa Bay

RESULT: Boston (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Let’s call Purcell a PTO sleeper, coming off a point-per-game season in the AHL despite being buried in the minors by Los Angeles. Two seasons ago, Purcell was playing a top-six role for Edmonton — where he produced 32 points (11 goals) in 61 games — before getting traded to Florida at the 2016 deadline. Sure, Boston has an abundance of prospects chomping at the bit, but there is something to be said for experience and it’s no secret Don Sweeney wanted to bring back Stafford as a top-nine winger. Purcell is sort of a poor man’s Stafford and somebody Sweeney should be able to afford — probably around the league minimum and likely on a two-way contract. Truth be told, Purcell might be a cheaper roster option than some of those potential rookies. The Bruins are going to have a competitive camp with what appears to be five forward spots, counting two in the press box, available for some combination of Frank Vatrano, Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen, Kenny Agostino, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Anton Blidh, Jake DeBrusk, Jesse Gabrielle and Zach Senyshyn. Purcell’s addition brings the total to 15 players battling for five NHL jobs. Call me crazy, but I like his chances and would put him in that 50-60 per cent range.

(Andy Martin Jr. / THW File Photo)

Jay McClement (C)

PREDICTION: Calgary

RESULT: Pittsburgh (PTO)

ANALYSIS: The Penguins are still shopping for a third-line centre, not comfortable with Carter Rowney or Scott Wilson as Nick Bonino’s in-house replacement. Those two are pencilled in as Pittsburgh’s third- and fourth-line centres right now, but it’s possible neither of them will be in the opening-night lineup. McClement, apparently healthy and motivated, could leapfrog both to land on the fourth line, and Jim Rutherford will likely pull off a trade between now and then for a more offensive-minded option for the third line. I’d rank McClement’s chances at 45-55 per cent.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Andrew Desjardins (C)

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh

RESULT: New York Rangers (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Much the same story here, with the Rangers also lacking centre depth. Desjardins will be trying to fill the fourth-line hole left by Dominic Moore’s departure and I quite like his chances. Probably even more so than McClement, to be honest. Perhaps as high as 65 per cent for Desjardins. He’s a similar player to Moore and Alain Vigneault will probably like that.

Chris Kelly

(Greg Thompson/Hammersmith Studios)

Chris Kelly (C)

PREDICTION: St. Louis

RESULT: Edmonton (PTO)

ANALYSIS: The opportunity doesn’t seem as promising for Kelly based on Edmonton’s depth chart, but the player does have a history with the general manager — dating back to Ottawa and including a Stanley Cup championship in Boston in 2011. Peter Chiarelli will want to get a long look at Kelly, knowing some of the intangibles that he could bring to a younger team still learning how to win. However, even 50-50 seems like a stretch entering camp since the Oilers would like to make Jujhar Khaira a regular this season. Those two might be competing for the same spot throughout the preseason and Kelly, turning 37 in November, may be able to steal it in the eyes of Chiarelli. Maybe, as in 50-50.

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Jyrki Jokipakka (LD)

PREDICTION: Toronto

RESULT: Washington (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Another classic 50-50, though I’d be tempted to go as high as 60 per cent on Jokipakka. Not because I’m overly fond of the player, but because of the obvious and glaring holes on Washington’s defence. Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt are gone. Taylor Chorney, Aaron Ness, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs are all homegrown talents trying to fill those big skates. Jokipakka has more experience than any of them — with 150 NHL games played to Chorney’s 141 (153 counting playoffs) and Ness’ 39, while the other four prospects have yet to debut. The Capitals want to give their “kids” a chance this season, but there is a spot here for the taking for Jokipakka if he has a strong showing in camp.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Alex Chiasson (RW)

PREDICTION: Vegas

RESULT: Washington (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Ditto for Chiasson, who could also be pegged in that 50-60 per cent range. Washington appears to have four spots up for grabs among forwards, with the already signed candidates including Devante Smith-Pelly, Tyler Graovac, Liam O’Brien, Chandler Stephenson, Riley Barber, Nathan Walker and Anthony Peluso. Chiasson would rank pretty high on that list of eight names, arguably No. 1 or 2. He plays the same position as Smith-Pelly, but there could be room for both even if one ends up in the press box more often than not.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ryan White (RW/C)

PREDICTION: Winnipeg

RESULT: Vancouver (PTO)

ANALYSIS: White’s chances appear to be directly dependent on Dorsett’s health and ability to play that agitating role. If Dorsett is good to go, then White would seem redundant. If Dorsett struggles in his return, White becomes a more viable option for Vancouver. As it stands, with Dorsett being cleared for contact as a full camp participant, White is facing longer odds — likely in that 40-50 per cent range.

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Tanner Glass (LW)

PREDICTION: Boston

RESULT: Calgary (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Do the Flames need a goon? It’s funny that we are still asking that question in 2017, but some teams still covet truculence and Glass certainly fits that bill. He doesn’t bring much beyond toughness, but Deryk Engelland and Lance Bouma are gone, and Hunter Smith isn’t yet NHL-ready, so Calgary is lacking in that department. Glass will do his thing in the preseason and Brad Treliving will decide whether that “thing” is needed. Like White, it’s fair to put Glass in that 40-50 per cent range.

Joseph Cramarossa (LW/C)

PREDICTION: Winnipeg

RESULT: Calgary (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Cramarossa is another physical presence, a crash-and-bang forward, but not a goon by definition since Cramarossa is capable of playing a regular shift. More so than Glass, but Glass would be able to beat up Cramarossa in a fight. The importance of that fact will be determined by Treliving if it comes down to signing the better player or the better fighter. Cramarossa is a 50-50 guy. I’d take him on my team over Glass, but Calgary may not agree. It’s doubtful that both would get signed, so they will indirectly be competing against each other in the preseason. Glass may have the upper hand, based on experience and his “unique” skill-set.

Mark Stuart (LD)

PREDICTION: Dallas

RESULT: Chicago (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Stuart plays a totally different style from Franson — he’s a stay-at-home, physical type, with Franson more of a puck-mover and capable power-play option — so it really depends what Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks are looking for. Their skill-sets would complement each other and it’s possible both could be signed to form Chicago’s bottom pairing — Stuart on the left, Franson on the right — but Bowman might not have that much money to spend. Chicago has a number of prospects in the mix for those two or three openings as well, so Stuart would need to outperform the likes of Michal Kempny, Gustav Forsling, Jan Rutta, Jordan Oesterle, Erik Gustafsson, Ville Pokka, Viktor Svedberg and Luc Snuggerud. Count them up and that’s eight blueliners — 10 with Franson and Stuart — competing for a couple spots, so it’ll be an uphill battle for Stuart. Give him a 40 per cent chance.

Jared Cowen

(Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports)

Jared Cowen (LD)

PREDICTION: Edmonton

RESULT: Colorado (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Here’s a total wild card, with no real betting line. Colorado has as many or more holes on defence than Chicago and Washington — especially if Nikita Zadorov’s extension doesn’t get done — so Cowen does have at least a 50-50 chance. That said, Cowen didn’t play at all last season — not a single game at any level — and he’s trying to overcome a chronic hip problem that has hindered his mobility. The success of this tryout, or lack thereof, will depend on Cowen’s recovery progress and any health concerns going forward. Colorado’s doctors will check him over thoroughly and I’m not too optimistic that Cowen will be able to make a comeback this season. His NHL career could just as easily be over, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Eric Gelinas (LD)

PREDICTION: Ottawa

RESULT: Montreal (PTO)

ANALYSIS: It’s debatable how much opportunity there will be for Gelinas at Montreal’s camp. Personally, I would have gone the Ottawa route if the Senators were interested in giving the local boy a spin — especially knowing now that Erik Karlsson is expected to miss the start of the season and maybe more than a month. Gelinas will join a glut of defenders trying to crack the Canadiens’ roster and cement roles for Montreal, including Mark Streit, David Schlemko, Jordie Benn, Brandon Davidson, Joe Morrow, Jakub Jerabek, Zach Redmond, Matt Taormina and even Noah Juulsen. Counting Gelinas, that’s 10 blueliners battling for three or four spots. It’ll be a numbers’ game in Montreal and Gelinas’ chances are likely in that 35-45 per cent range.

Harry Zolnierczyk (LW)

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh

RESULT: Florida (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Liked what I saw from Zolnierczyk in this year’s playoffs and was a bit surprised that Nashville let him walk as a free agent. He’s somewhat similar to Cramarossa, a bottom-six forward with a bit of jam. Zolnierczyk brings energy, but he doesn’t bring the offensive upside of a guy like Pirri, so his chances probably aren’t as good. Give Zolnierczyk a 35-45 per cent chance, with the possibility of playing on a checking line with Derek MacKenzie and Micheal Haley, but there are upwards of 10 signed players in the mix for bottom-six roles too — including Denis Malgin, Colton Sceviour, Jared McCann, Alexandre Grenier, Maxim Mamin, Sebastian Repo, Dryden Hunt, Connor Brickley, Jayce Hawryluk and Owen Tippett. Zolnierczyk will have to outplay most of that competition and that won’t be easy.

John Mitchell (C)

PREDICTION: Columbus

RESULT: Chicago (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Mitchell strikes me as another possible PTO sleeper, somebody who is easy to overlook on this list but might have a better chance than most expect. I’m only giving Mitchell a 35-45 per cent chance, but he maybe should have been up there in the 45-55 range with McClement, Desjardins and Kelly. Chicago could use another versatile centre, it’s just a matter of affording one. The depth chart down the middle has Nick Schmaltz, Tanner Kero, Laurent Dauphin and John Hayden from Nos. 3 to 6, but Mitchell’s experience could be attractive to Chicago.

Drew Miller (LW)

PREDICTION: Toronto

RESULT: Chicago (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Miller is another solid vet, so you don’t want to call him “camp filler”, but Chicago doesn’t have much money to spend and has lots of cheap youngsters knocking on the door. Simple as that. Miller’s chances would seem slim from the outside looking in, somewhere in the 20-30 per cent range.

Brooks Laich, Washington Capitals, NHL, Milestones

(James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

Brooks Laich (LW/C)

PREDICTION: San Jose

RESULT: Los Angeles (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Not sure what to make of this one because I’ve always liked Laich but also fear he might be done. He claims not and is looking to make the most of this opportunity in Los Angeles. He picked a pretty good spot to audition, with the Kings not overly deep up front, but the odds will still be against Laich. He only played 27 games last season — all of them in the AHL — so it’s difficult to give Laich more than a 20-30 per cent chance to make it in Los Angeles, even if I’m rooting for him.

Chris VandeVelde (C)

PREDICTION: Nashville

RESULT: Ottawa (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Derick Brassard is likely going to miss the start of the season, recovering from shoulder surgery, but you’d think Ottawa would rather give Colin White a good look in an offensive role than bump everybody else up and bring in a fourth-liner like VandeVelde. The Senators already signed Max Reinhart and Ben Sexton, who could be similar stopgaps if necessary. I’ll give VandeVelde a 30 per cent chance and that’s probably being a bit generous.

Cody Goloubef (RD)

PREDICTION: Arizona

RESULT: Buffalo (PTO)

ANALYSIS: I don’t mind the player, but I don’t really like the destination. Not that Buffalo’s defence is so stacked that Goloubef doesn’t stand a chance, but he’ll be outside the top 10 to start camp. That’s probably too much ground to make up. Let’s say 20 per cent.

Tim Erixon (LD)

PREDICTION: Buffalo

RESULT: New Jersey (PTO)

ANALYSIS: This would have been a better destination for Goloubef and I would have liked his chances in New Jersey more so than Erixon. In saying that, Erixon probably has a better chance of earning a contract than Goloubef simply because he picked a better spot. If Erixon can’t make the Devils, it’s probably time for him to head back overseas. That might be the most likely outcome, but I’ll give Erixon a 20-25 per cent chance.

Scott Kosmachuk (RW)

PREDICTION: Vegas

RESULT: New York Rangers (PTO, signed by AHL Hartford)

ANALYSIS: I wouldn’t totally write-off Kosmachuk as an NHL prospect for the future but, for the present, he’ll need to work his way up the depth chart in a new organization after not receiving a qualifying offer from Winnipeg. That process will begin with an AHL-only contract from the Rangers’ farm team. Obviously there is a 0-10 per cent chance that Kosmachuk makes the NHL club out of camp.

Michael Garteig (G)

PREDICTION: San Jose

RESULT: Vancouver (PTO, signed by AHL Utica)

ANALYSIS: No chance here either, with Garteig signed as organizational depth and more likely destined for the ECHL than the AHL this season. Vancouver has four goalies ahead of him, with Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson on the NHL roster, while Thatcher Demko continues to develop in the AHL alongside Richard Bachman.

Joel Lowry (LW)

PREDICTION: Vancouver

RESULT: Calgary (PTO)

ANALYSIS: Zero chance here too, as much as it would be a feel-good story if Joel somehow managed to play for the same team as his dad, Dave Lowry. That won’t be happening, not for Joel, but there is a chance that younger brother Adam, who currently plays for Winnipeg, could end up wearing the same jersey as their dad somewhere down the road.


The Signings

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Matt Hendricks (LW/C)

PREDICTION: Minnesota

RESULT: Winnipeg (signed on Aug. 26, one-year, one-way, $700,000)

ANALYSIS: Besides Vanek and Stafford, Hendricks is the highest-profile UFA signing since Aug. 24. Winnipeg fans weren’t thrilled about this addition, but Hendricks is a quality leader and penalty-killer who also happens to be something of a shootout specialist. He might not be an everyday player for the Jets — he wasn’t for the Oilers last season — but Hendricks will be a good guy to have around the team regardless.

Brandon Mashinter (LW)

PREDICTION: New York Rangers

RESULT: San Jose (signed on Sept. 12, one-year, two-way, $650,000)

ANALYSIS: The Sharks already had a tough guy under contract for the farm team in Brandon Bollig, but I guess the Barracuda will be deploying the bash brothers this season. What do the kids say — SMH? As in shake-my-head. Yeah, that’s a puzzling decision, but Mashinter isn’t a total goon like Bollig. Mashinter can play a little, as evidenced by his AHL stat-line from last season — 15 goals and 30 points in 61 games, tying for third in team scoring for Rockford and also tied for the team lead in goals. That was enough to earn another contract without having to attend a training camp on a PTO.

Mark MacMillan (C/LW)

PREDICTION: Vancouver

RESULT: ECHL (Wichita)

ANALYSIS: Yes, that says ECHL, so nothing to see here. MacMillan may work his way up to the AHL at some point this season, but he’s no longer on the NHL radar.

Simon Despres

(Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Simon Despres (LD)

PREDICTION: Colorado

RESULT: Slovakia (Slovan Bratislava, KHL)

ANALYSIS: He opted to leave North America for the sure paycheque rather than risk injury on a PTO and be left with nothing. That risk is bigger for Despres than most, considering his history of concussions. There are presumably insurance costs associated to teams offering PTOs — where the team would be on the hook for any injury-related expenses — and, with Despres being so “high risk”, that might have scared off any potential NHL suitors. But depending how this season plays out for Despres, an NHL return could still be in his future. Based on talent alone, once he shakes off the rust and the cobwebs, Despres is still an NHL player and a top-four defenceman for a number of teams.

Jack Skille (RW)

PREDICTION: Minnesota

RESULT: Russia (Dinamo Minsk, KHL)

ANALYSIS: I’m surprised Skille jumped ship too. I like the player and thought several teams would want to give him a look on a PTO. I predicted Minnesota but also considered two of his former teams in Chicago and Florida, as well as Vegas and Washington. I’m thinking this might have been a financially motivated decision for Skille and not due to a lack of opportunities to continue his career in North America. Skille could be back next season too.

Jeremy Morin (LW/RW)

PREDICTION: Buffalo

RESULT: Russia (Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk, KHL)

ANALYSIS: Even more so than Skille, Morin has long been an NHL-AHL tweener and, as a result, he hasn’t made a ton of money in his career. A seven-figure KHL salary is attractive to this types, especially once they pass their prime years. Morin is still only 26, whereas Skille is 30, so Morin might have a few good years left and this change of scenery could rejuvenate his career. We could also see Morin and Skille as linemates for Team USA at the Olympics in February. That probably factored into their decisions as well, wanting to go overseas and get used to the bigger ice while earning more money than they would in the AHL. Makes sense.

Rene Bourque Canadiens habs

(Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

Rene Bourque (RW)

PREDICTION: Ottawa

RESULT: Sweden (Djurgardens, SHL)

ANALYSIS: I don’t want to call Bourque a waste of talent, but he had the tools to have a much better career. His drive and work ethic have often come into question over the years and it’s tough to win a job on a PTO if either of those are lacking. Bourque obviously loves the game or he wouldn’t be going to Sweden to continue playing, but we’ve probably seen the last of him in the NHL. He’ll turn 36 in December. Does Bourque make Canada’s Olympic team? I’d say that’s iffy, like 50-50.

Michael Kostka (RD)

PREDICTION: Florida

RESULT: Sweden (Skelleftea, SHL)

ANALYSIS: He might be a candidate for Canada, but Kostka has already overachieved in his hockey career as an undrafted player with 89 combined NHL games on his resume. He can probably play for another five to 10 years in Europe, but the NHL dream is now over.


Still Available

Dennis Wideman

(Greg Thompson/Hammersmith Studios)

Dennis Wideman (RD)

PREDICTION: Washington

Jiri Hudler (LW/RW)

PREDICTION: Washington

Brian Gionta (RW)

PREDICTION: Nashville

Fedor Tyutin (LD)

PREDICTION: Philadelphia

Lauri Korpikoski (LW)

PREDICTION: Carolina

(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Neil (RW)

PREDICTION: Tampa Bay

Jakub Kindl (LD)

PREDICTION: Philadelphia

Milan Michalek (LW)

PREDICTION: Los Angeles

Zbynek Michalek (RD)

PREDICTION: Los Angeles

John-Michael Liles (LD)

PREDICTION: Montreal

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nick Schultz (LD)

PREDICTION: Detroit

Ryan Carter (C)

PREDICTION: New York Islanders

Boyd Gordon (C)

PREDICTION: Calgary

Mike Weber (LD)

PREDICTION: Detroit

Adam Pardy (LD)

PREDICTION: Columbus

Victor Bartley (LD)

PREDICTION: Boston

Marc-Andre Bergeron (LD)

PREDICTION: Montreal

Brandon Gormley

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Brandon Gormley (LD)

PREDICTION: St. Louis

Stuart Percy (LD)

PREDICTION: Anaheim

Jordan Caron (RW/C)

PREDICTION: Colorado

Spencer Abbott (RW/C)

PREDICTION: Anaheim

Mackenzie Skapski (G)

PREDICTION: Carolina

Mac Carruth (G)

PREDICTION: Arizona


Retiring

Vern Fiddler

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Vern Fiddler (C)

PREDICTION: New York Islanders

RESULT: Retired

ANALYSIS: Fiddler was a true pro, finishing with 928 total games played and recording 109 goals and 274 points. A solid career.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Mike Ribeiro (C)

PREDICTION: New York Rangers

RESULT: Likely Retirement

ANALYSIS: Sadly, Ribeiro has relapsed with his alcohol issues and his agent essentially announced his retirement. Ribeiro hasn’t been seen or heard from since the end of last season, and his agent said he hasn’t been skating at all over the summer. So, barring a miracle, Ribeiro’s career will be over too. A prolific playmaker, Ribeiro would finish with 827 points (235 goals, 592 assists) in 1,141 combined games.


Other PTOs of Interest

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jimmy Hayes (RW) — New Jersey

R.J. Umberger (C) — Dallas

David Booth (LW) — Detroit

Ryan Malone (LW) — Minnesota

Brandon Prust (LW) — Los Angeles

Andrei Loktionov (C) — Los Angeles

Bobby Farnham (RW) — New York Rangers

Kenney Morrison (RD) — Vegas

Dylan Olsen (LD) — Calgary

Colby Robak (LD) — Calgary

Casey Bailey (C) — New York Islanders

T.J. Hensick (RW) — Los Angeles

Tyson Strachan (RD) — Arizona

Nikolai Belov (LD) — Florida


PTOs By Team

Anaheim Ducks

PREDICTION: Spencer Abbott (RW/C) and Stuart Percy (LD)

RESULT: None

Arizona Coyotes

PREDICTION: Cody Goloubef (RD) and Mac Carruth (G)

RESULT: Tyson Strachan (RD)

Boston Bruins

PREDICTION: Tanner Glass (LW) and Victor Bartley (LD)

RESULT: Teddy Purcell (RW)

Buffalo Sabres

PREDICTION: Jeremy Morin (LW/RW) and Tim Erixon (LD)

RESULT: Cody Goloubef (RD), Steve Moses (RW)

Calgary Flames

PREDICTION: Jay McClement (C) and Boyd Gordon (C)

RESULT: Tanner Glass (LW), Joseph Cramarossa (LW/C), Dylan Olsen (LD), Colby Robak (LD), Rod Pelley (C/LW), Joel Lowry (LW)

Carolina Hurricanes

PREDICTION: Lauri Korpikoski (LW) and Mackenzie Skapski (G)

RESULT: None

Chicago Blackhawks

PREDICTION: Cody Franson (RD) and Daniel Winnik (C/LW)

RESULT: Cody Franson (RD), Mark Stuart (LD), John Mitchell (C), Drew Miller (LW)

Colorado Avalanche

PREDICTION: Simon Despres (LD) and Jordan Caron (RW/C)

RESULT: Jared Cowen (LD)

Columbus Blue Jackets

PREDICTION: John Mitchell (C) and Adam Pardy (LD)

RESULT: Brett Gallant (LW)

Dallas Stars

PREDICTION: Scottie Upshall (LW) and Mark Stuart (LD)

RESULT: R.J. Umberger (C)

Detroit Red Wings

PREDICTION: Nick Schultz (LD) and Mike Weber (LD)

RESULT: P-A Parenteau (RW), David Booth (LW)

Edmonton Oilers

PREDICTION: Brandon Pirri (C/LW) and Jared Cowen (LD)

RESULT: Chris Kelly (C)

Florida Panthers

PREDICTION: P-A Parenteau (RW) and Michael Kostka (RD)

RESULT: Brandon Pirri (C/LW), Harry Zolnierczyk (LW), Nikolai Belov (LD)

Los Angeles Kings

PREDICTION: Milan Michalek (LW) and Zbynek Michalek (RD)

RESULT: Chris Lee (LD), Brooks Laich (LW/C), Brandon Prust (LW), Andrei Loktionov (C), T.J. Hensick (RW)

Minnesota Wild

PREDICTION: Jack Skille (RW) and Matt Hendricks (LW/C)

RESULT: Daniel Winnik (C/LW), Ryan Malone (LW)

Montreal Canadiens

PREDICTION: John-Michael Liles (LD) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (LD)

RESULT: Eric Gelinas (LD)

Nashville Predators

PREDICTION: Brian Gionta (RW) and Chris VandeVelde (C)

RESULT: None

New Jersey Devils

PREDICTION: Chris Lee (LD) and Roman Polak (RD)

RESULT: Jimmy Hayes (RW), Tim Erixon (LD)

New York Islanders

PREDICTION: Vern Fiddler (C) and Ryan Carter (C)

RESULT: Casey Bailey (C), Ben Holmstrom (C)

New York Rangers

PREDICTION: Mike Ribeiro (C) and Brandon Mashinter (LW)

RESULT: Andrew Desjardins (C), Bobby Farnham (RW), Scott Kosmachuk (RW)

Ottawa Senators

PREDICTION: Rene Bourque (RW) and Eric Gelinas (LD)

RESULT: Chris VandeVelde (C)

Philadelphia Flyers

PREDICTION: Fedor Tyutin (LD) and Jakub Kindl (LD)

RESULT: None

Pittsburgh Penguins

PREDICTION: Andrew Desjardins (C) and Harry Zolnierczyk (LW)

RESULT: Jay McClement (C)

San Jose Sharks

PREDICTION: Brooks Laich (LW/C) and Michael Garteig (G)

RESULT: None

St. Louis Blues

PREDICTION: Chris Kelly (C) and Brandon Gormley (LD)

RESULT: None

Tampa Bay Lightning

PREDICTION: Chris Neil (RW) and Teddy Purcell (RW)

RESULT: None

Toronto Maple Leafs

PREDICTION: Jyrki Jokipakka (LD) and Drew Miller (LW)

RESULT: Roman Polak (RD)

Vancouver Canucks

PREDICTION: Mark MacMillan (C/LW) and Joel Lowry (LW)

RESULT: Scottie Upshall (LW), Ryan White (RW/C)

Vegas Golden Knights

PREDICTION: Alex Chiasson (RW) and Scott Kosmachuk (RW)

RESULT: None

Washington Capitals

PREDICTION: Dennis Wideman (RD) and Jiri Hudler (LW/RW)

RESULT: Jyrki Jokipakka (LD), Alex Chiasson (RW)

Winnipeg Jets

PREDICTION: Ryan White (RW/C) and Joseph Cramarossa (LW/C)

RESULT: None, but did sign Matt Hendricks (LW/C)


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