The Blues will welcome six players to training camp on professional tryout deals. Do any of them have a chance at making the team?
On Monday afternoon, the St. Louis Blues announced that six players will be invited to training camp as professional tryout players. This designation is somewhat equivalent to baseball’s “non-roster invitation” in that these players–usually experienced NHL veterans or guys who are under contract with an AHL team, but not the parent club–are allowed to attend training camp and play in preseason games as if they were regular members of the team.
At the end of the preseason, the front office can decide to tender any of these players a contract, even if the player begins the season in the minors on a two-way contract. The organization also has the freedom, though, to simply let the players walk and not have to worry about any contract guarantees. Whereas a standard “dumpster dive” player usually comes into camp on a two-way contract and is paid a salary by the NHL club throughout the season, whether they’re in the NHL or not, these players are total non-risks and can be evaluated without any financial consequences.
Part of the reason that the Blues have so many tryout players this year is because guys like Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund, Dmitrij Jaskin, and Vladimir Sobotka (if he ultimately decides to return) will miss at least the beginning–and possibly most–of training camp while participating in the World Cup of Hockey. The Blues need to fill roster spots for preseason games, and they’re taking advantage of the opportunity to add more warm bodies.
Another major factor, though, is that two players on PTOs–Scottie Upshall and Scott Gomez–made the Blues’ opening night roster in 2015-16, while another, Martin Havlat, was signed to a deal in-season before ultimately deciding to retire. Veteran players who are struggling to earn a guaranteed contract (and/or their agents) notice that the Blues have given so many opportunities to professional tryout guys, and thus the Blues move to the top of their list of suitors, even if the Blues don’t have that much roster flexibility at the NHL level this year.
On the following pages, we’ll take a look at each of the six professional tryout players and evaluate their chances of making the roster:
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