Thursday, September 04, 2014

Handing Out Camp Invites (Sep 4)

Oh, September... training camp season. Time to get back into the proper swing of hockey pool studying, which includes taking note of all the professional tryouts that are happening around the league. Teams are inviting unrestricted free agents to camp, trying to see if they could fit in a gap left on their roster or outplay someone they already have signed. These players don't have deals now, so there is a good chance that they could play for less on a 1-year deal, just to make every party happy. Who has agreed so far?

The Boston Bruins are in salary cap hell right now and they may need someone like Simon Gagne to help them out to get them through a tough time. Gagne was one of the first players to agree to a tryout this season.  The Bruins would be looking for some veteran help up front, while keeping costs low for the upcoming season.  A good tryout for Gagne, who didn't play at all last season, could give him a good chance at making the team out of camp.  It would be hard to expect any of his past career numbers in the 2015 season, but keep an eye on him in camp... just in case.  He could end up being a wee bit of a sleeper.

The Flames fascination with bigger, slower defensemen is mind-boggling.  Calgary has six defensemen on their projected roster and they have a couple of youngsters in the fold to likely tryout for the seventh spot, but they have still decided to invite Sheldon Brookbank to camp on a tryout.  Brookbank played in 48 games with the Blackhawks, giving them some adequate depth, scoring 2 goals and 7 points in the process, but a move to Calgary doesn't make him into a pool-worthy defenseman, even if he does sign.

The Florida Panthers have a couple of spots open on their blueline, which are likely penciled in for Aaron Ekblad and Dylan Olsen, but those two will have some competition with tryout defender Shane O'Brien.  O'Brien spent last season with the Flames, picking up 3 assists in 45 games, which makes him far from a pool-worthy defenseman on his own merits and by looking at the depth in Florida that is already there, he wouldn't see a great deal of ice-time anyways.  There is no sleeper possibility here.

Goaltending in Los Angeles was a strong point for the Kings in 2014, so much so, they cashed in on one of their back-ups in a trade.  The team is going to offer more competition to Martin Jones in training camp this time around, inviting Jeff Deslauriers to camp on a tryout.  I would imagine that Deslauriers has a big hill to climb, if he wants to make it back to the NHL, especially in Los Angeles, but a good camp may give him an opportunity somewhere.  The last time Deslauriers was relevent to the pool was the 2010 season, where he won 16 games for 41 points with Edmonton, ranking 29th among all goalies.

The Montreal Canadiens are going to take a flyer on former Carolina Hurricanes forward Drayson Bowman, someone who just couldn't quite make the cut down South.  Bowman slowly climbed his way into a semi-everyday position with the Hurricanes, but his development never really reached what his potential was pegged at.  Last season, Bowman did play in 70 games for Carolina, scoring 4 goals and 12 points, but maybe a change of scenery will help his cause.  The Habs don't have many spots open on their front end, plus they have a number of players vying for those limited spots, so it will definitely be a tough slog for Bowman in camp.

Remember when Scott Gomez won the Calder Trophy for being the NHL's rookie of the year?  Boy, that was a long time ago.  Well, he was in a New Jersey Devils uniform then and the 34-year old forward will try to find some of that touch in a tryout with his former team.  In Florida last season, Gomez played in 46 games, scoring 2 goals and 12 points, on a 1-year deal that he signed down there.  The Alaska native had 15 points in 39 games in San Jose the season before, so even if he did make the Devils, which is a long shot, at best, he wouldn't be projected for many points.

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they signed agitating forward Dan Carcillo to a tryout, expecting him to be in camp in a couple weeks.  Carcillo will provide some competition for a guy like Steve Downie, who is signed on for the year, but could be on some shaky ground, given his history with injuries and other assorted issues.  Carcillo topped out in the last few years at 22 points, so he isn't really a pool-worthy forward, but he could knock out Downie, who still has some low-level potential for a late round pick, if he found some top six time at some point.

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