With training camps starting up, players are heading back to the cities they play in to prepare for the upcoming season. One group of those players is going into camp without a lot of certainty, because they’ve only been signed to professional tryouts.
The professional tryout can be a risky move for a veteran player. Two years ago, Anson Carter signed one with the Edmonton Oilers, but left camp not only without a contract, but with a concussion. He hasn’t been seen near an NHL roster since.
That said, often there simply isn’t another choice if the player wants another shot at an NHL gig, and this year dozens of veterans are showing up at training camp on a professional tryout – and more could yet. Theo Fleury is rumoured to have been invited by the Calgary Flames, while there have also been reports that Mike Peca is in Buffalo. Those two reports have yet to be confirmed, but here are some of the more interesting players that we know will be showing up to camp:
- Anaheim – Kyle Calder, Jassen Cullimore
- Atlanta – Dan Fritsche, Manny Legace
- Boston – Guillaume Lefebvre
- Colorado – Shawn Bates
- Columbus – Jared Aulin
- Detroit – Dan Cloutier
- Florida – Christian Backman, Martin Skoula
- Minnesota – Andy Hilbert
- Philadelphia – Blair Betts
- Phoenix – Ryan Hollweg, Aaron Downey
- Pittsburgh – Ryan Bayda
- San Jose – Matheiu Dandenault, Dan Hinote
- St. Louis – Darryl Sydor
- Tampa Bay – Brett McLean
- Toronto – Jason Allison
- Vancouver – Keith Carney, Mark Parrish, Ronald Petrovicky, Dave Scatchard
There are some familiar names there, but let’s look more closely at the guys going into camp with the Canadian teams.
Jason Allison – Allison retired as a Maple Leaf because of personal issues at the end of the 2005-06 season. He had been close to a point-per-game player, scoring 60 points in 66 games. Never fleet of foot, Allison’s crafty with the puck, and that’s what Leafs GM Brian Burke is banking on:
“I told Jason when we talked that I don’t remember him being the most fleet afoot guy when he last played. I’ve seen what he can do out there with the puck on the half-wall. It’s a good bet that he can still do that. But the challenge, especially after not playing for three years, could be the legs.’’
Allison might not be as washed-up as most assume; it’s hard to believe but he’s only 34 years old.
Keith Carney – The 39-year old Carney played more than 1000 NHL games as a shut-down defenseman before retiring in 2008. He came back to play twelve games in Switzerland this past spring, but is probably a long-shot to land a role on the defense-heavy Canucks.
Mark Parrish – The one-time thirty goal-scorer used to be good for between twenty and thirty goals a season, a range he found six out of seven seasons from 1998-2006. In 2007-08, he managed only thirty points with the Minnesota Wild, who decided to buy-out his contract. Parrish landed a job in Dallas last year but was underwhelming, with 13 points in 44 games. Now he’ll come into the Canucks training camp with an outside shot at an NHL job, and a better chance at a two-way contract.
Ronald Petrovicky – Petrovicky was last seen in the NHL in 2006-07, as a winger with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was never terribly effective offensively; in his best NHL season (2003-04) he just cracked the 30-point mark. But despite Petrovicky’s small frame (5’11”, 185lbs) he was an aggressive forechecker who played the body tirelessly. He spent last season in the KHL, managing 5 points in 30 games, and has bounced around Europe the last couple of seasons. He’s a long-shot.
Dave Scatchard – I did a writeup on Scatchard back when it was first announced that he would be attending the Canucks’ training camp. The short version is this: in his prime, Scatchard was a great player to watch because he combined nastiness and a physical edge with decent hands. Injuries have taken his career away; it remains to be seen if he can reclaim it.
Outside of those guys, I’m a big fan of the Andy Hilbert invite, and I can’t argue with either of the guys that Florida is bringing into training camp.