10 Reasons Why the Preseason Rocks

While the Canucks’ regular season won’t begin until October 15th, for true diehards, the beginning of the hockey calendar actually starts a month earlier. Preseason hockey is sometimes scoffed at by the masses, who turn up their noses at games that “don’t count.” That’s more true than ever this year, as the World Cup of Hockey overlaps with the NHL’s exhibition schedule.

However, while the preseason may not show up in the standings, it’s still a massively important part of any team’s season. Those that tune in for the preseason continually find an exciting and unique brand of hockey that almost seems like a miniature season in and of itself, with epic rises and falls, exhilarating debuts, and brave last stands. The preseason may not count, but it absolutely matters. Here are ten reasons why it’s always worth watching.

 

10) Amateur Play-by-Play

While the players on the ice take the preseason seriously, the same can’t always be said for the broadcasting teams. While this can sometimes have embarrassing results, more often than not it’s a chance to hear some fun and refreshing voices calling your team’s games.

The Canucks have had some real gems in the broadcaster’s booth during preseason games, including the ever-entertaining Don Taylor and smooth-rock sensation Michael Buble.

 

9) Interesting Venues/Split-Squad Games

The preseason also allows for teams to take their show on the road, playing games in locations they would otherwise never dream of. Exhibition games in Las Vegas used to be a regular thing, and now they’re getting a team of their own. Vancouver has played preseason games as far north as Terrace, BC, and as far away as Japan.

Something that has disappeared of late, but used to be a regular feature of the preseason, are split-squad games. These usually consisted of teams each creating two 20-man rosters, and playing near-simultaneous games at each home arena. Nothing beat rigging up a computer to stream one game while the TV next to it played the other.

 

8) Surprising Successes

Much like the playoffs, the preseason always creates its own heroes. Players often come out of nowhere to light it up and, more often than not, fade into obscurity. For evidence of this, look no further than Anton Lander, who tied with Alex Ovechkin for last year’s preseason scoring lead. On the other hand, sometimes the preseason can predict a player’s breakout, as it did when Colton Parayko put up 6 points in 5 games en route to a stellar rookie campaign.

The Canucks have experienced both sides of this coin, with preseason successes like Ben Hutton outnumbered by the faders like Sergei Shirokov or Fedor Fedorov.

 

7) Lineup Battles

It’s obvious that the preseason will be more meaningful for players that aren’t guaranteed an NHL position, but it can also mean a lot for players that are battling for spots within the lineup. A good preseason can be the difference between starting the season on the top powerplay unit or languishing on the third line. It is one of the few times throughout the season when fans can witness unbridled competition between teammates.

The Canucks will see some intense battles throughout their lineup this preseason, especially on the bottom end. Nikita Tryamkin, Lucas Sbisa, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Larsen are all battling for time on defense, while Brendan Gaunce, Alex Burrows, Anton Rodin, Jake Virtanen, Markus Granlund, Derek Dorsett, and Emerson Etem will compete for limited forward spots.

 

6) PTOs

PTOs, or professional tryouts, are something that only occur in the preseason. (Players can sign PTOs mid-season, but cannot play games while on them, just practice). A PTO is essentially the preseason in its purest form: a player auditioning for a contract and a job with nothing but their performance on the ice to help seal the deal. Nobody takes the preseason more seriously than a player on a PTO.

While most PTOs do not end up signing NHL contracts, a few do every year, like Brad Boyes with Toronto last season. In the 2016 preseason, there should be more PTOs than ever thanks to players being away for the World Cup, and thus a need for warm bodies. Look for the Canucks to invite a few players, but don’t expect anyone as exciting as former PTOs Brendan Morrison or Owen Nolan. So far, it’s just Tuomo Ruutu and James Sheppard.

 

5) Cheaper Tickets

How much of a discount your preseason tickets are compared to the regular season is highly dependent on your market, but chances are good you can get tickets to an exhibition game for a relative bargain. While the roster quality won’t be the same, it’s still a chance to watch your favourite team up close, and maybe your only chance to see certain players.

With things like the Penticton Young Stars Tournament (more on that later), and the ever-roving training camp scrimmages, the preseason offers fans all over the province a more affordable and accessible opportunity to cheer on the Canucks.

 

4) Physicality

Fans of the physical side of hockey, or those that yearn for the “old school” days, know that the preseason usually delivers almost as much rough-and-tumble action as the playoffs. There may not be points on the line, but there are jobs up for grabs, so players with a physical element to their game need to take every opportunity to show what they can to. Combined with generally more lackadaisical officiating, this leads to some violent clashes and scrums galore.

Every team seems to be more willing to carry toughness on the roster in the preseason, in part because they know everyone else will be. Youthful enthusiasm meets with veteran desperation, and games where everyone is taking the body can quickly get out of hand. This can lead to players making reputations of a different sort before entering the league. Who can forget Nathan McIver driving the San Jose Sharks insane, or young Rick Rypien and what seemed like a mission to beat up everyone in Alberta?

 

3) Rookie Tournaments

For many, rookie tournaments are the crown jewel of the preseason. Featuring various teams’ best prospects in what may be their only chance to impress the brass before pre-camp cuts, these showcases are always full of energy and frantic play. Some of these players are invites on ATOs, and for them these tournaments may be their one and only chance to earn an NHL contract. That’s why these games are played every bit as passionately as a first-round playoff matchup.

The Canucks have been hosting a rookie tournament in Penticton, BC, for the past number of years, known as the Penticton Youngstars Tournament. This tournament always delivers fun and entertaining hockey full of storylines, such as Jake Virtanen’s physical domination of Connor McDavid and the Oilers last year.

 

2) Debuts in Team Colours

While some fans don’t consider a player to have officially debuted with a team until they suit up in the regular season, the preseason still offers a sneak peek at recent acquisitions in their new uniforms. This is especially meaningful for teams that made huge moves, and you can bet that fans will be lining up to see Auston Matthews’ first preseason game in Toronto, or PK Subban’s in Nashville.

For the Canucks, the Youngstars Tournament featured the Canuck-colour debuts of top prospects such as Thatcher Demko and Olli Juolevi. The preseason itself will allow fans to catch a glimpse of Erik Gudbranson and Loui Eriksson in the blue, green, and white.

 

1) It Means Everything to Some Players

It’s easy to focus on how little the preseason might mean to stars like Sidney Crosby or the Sedins, but the number of players playing for their livelihoods far outnumbers the veterans taking it as a tune-up. That more than half of the players that enter training camp end up being cut gives statistical evidence as to the importance of exhibition games for the majority of the players playing in them.

For new draft picks, it represents their first time skating on NHL ice. For aging veterans, it may be their last shot at proving they still belong. Players on PTOs are literally fighting for their jobs, and some players will simply never make it beyond the preseason in their careers. The preseason means a lot to a lot of players, and that always translates into entertaining hockey for the fans.

Penticton Young Stars Preview: Part Two, Flames and Oilers

The Oilers and Flames have released their rosters for the 2016 Penticton Young Stars Tournament, and so it’s time for Part Two of the preview.

 

Tournament Schedule 

GAME 1, CALGARY VS WINNIPEG, SEPT. 16            @ 4:00 PM

GAME 2, VANCOUVER VS EDMONTON, SEPT. 16 @ 7:30 PM

GAME 3, CALGARY VS EDMONTON, SEPT. 17 @ 7:30 PM

GAME 4, VANCOUVER VS WINNIPEG, SEPT. 18 @ 2:00 PM

GAME 5, EDMONTON VS. WINNIPEG, SEPT. 19 @ 11:00 AM

GAME 6, VANCOUVER VS CALGARY, SEPT. 19 @ 3:00 PM

 

 

Calgary Flames

Team Roster Link: http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=892364

Strengths: The Calgary Flames might have the most well-rounded roster in the tournament. They don’t have the depth of Winnipeg, but they have great prospects at every position. Goaltending is particularly deep, and their defense is monstrous.

Weaknesses: The Flames lack top-end talent outside of Matthew Tkachuk. This is probably the roster with the least star power, and will have to get things done by committee.

Roster Highlights:

Matthew Tkachuk – Canucks fans will keep a critical eye on Tkachuk’s progress for the next few seasons, because the team could have drafted him, but didn’t. Tkachuk is easily the most notable Flames prospect, and should provide some highlights at this level.

 

Hunter Smith, Keegan Kanzig, Riley Bruce- Size has been a focus of the latest Flames regime, and it shows in their roster. This trio, all standing at 6’7”, lead the way on a team full of large individuals.

 

Jon Gillies and Mason McDonald- Thatcher Demko might be the best goaltender in the tournament, but the Flames have two high-end goalie prospects in Gillies and McDonald. Both are 6’6”, and will battle each other for ice time over the next few years.

 

Mark Jankowski- Jankowski became a bit of a joke when current Canuck executive John Weisbrod pronounced him the potential best player in his draft year, but he’s far from bust-status. Jankowski just wrapped up a good NCAA career, and finished last year with a successful stint in the AHL. He could surprise.

 

 

Edmonton Oilers:

Team Roster Link: http://oilers.nhl.com/v2/ext/roster/20160913_RookieCampRoster.pdf

Strengths: The Oilers have a lot of firepower up front, including the best prospect in the entire tournament. They’re not a one-man show, however, and have more than a few players who can score.

Weaknesses: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the Oilers are weak on the backend. To be fair, this time it’s the goaltending instead of the defense that is worst off, but the D is also pretty top heavy. There’s not a lot there outside of Markus Niemelainen, Ethan Bear, and Caleb Jones.

Roster Highlights:

Jesse Puljujarvi- With Patrick Laine busy at the World Cup, Puljujarvi is definitely the best player in Penticton. Puljujarvi is a good bet to perform well at the NHL level right away, so he should dominate in a prospect tournament.

 

Drake Caggiula- Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher’s North Dakota teammate, Caggiula was courted by the Canucks but ultimately chose to sign with their rivals in Edmonton. Canuck fans are already annoyed at him, and his pesky style will help make him a public enemy in Penticton.

 

Matt Benning- Another free agent courted by the Canucks, Benning’s decision to sign with the Oilers was a bit more surprising, given that he is Jim Benning’s nephew. Benning doesn’t appear to be a great prospect, but he has room to shine on this Oiler blueline.

 

Tyler Benson- As a former Vancouver Giant, many Canuck fans had Benson pencilled in as the team’s 2nd round draft pick, before the pick was dealt. Ties to Vancouver aside, Benson also happens to be one of the most talented players on the Oilers’ roster.

Penticton Young Stars Preview: Part One, Jets and Canucks

With the Oilers and Flames still yet to release their rosters (for a tournament that starts in three days), I decided to release this preview in two parts.

 

Tournament Schedule

GAME 1, CALGARY VS WINNIPEG, SEPT. 16            @ 4:00 PM

GAME 2, VANCOUVER VS EDMONTON, SEPT. 16 @ 7:30 PM

GAME 3, CALGARY VS EDMONTON, SEPT. 17 @ 7:30 PM

GAME 4, VANCOUVER VS WINNIPEG, SEPT. 18 @ 2:00 PM

GAME 5, EDMONTON VS. WINNIPEG, SEPT. 19 @ 11:00 AM

GAME 6, VANCOUVER VS CALGARY, SEPT. 19 @ 3:00 PM

 

Winnipeg Jets

Team Roster Link: https://s15.postimg.org/v92kvzx3v/image.jpg

Strengths: The Winnipeg Jets have one of the strongest prospect pools in the NHL, and depth at all positions. That depth is represented by their Young Stars roster, especially up front. The Jets can ice three full lines of legitimate NHL prospects, which is more than anyone else can say.

Weaknesses: Although the Jets have some great goaltending prospects, like Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie, neither will be at this tournament. Instead, two late draft picks will fill the crease. One, Jamie Phillips, is fresh out of college, and the other, Mikhail Berdin, is new to North America.

Roster Highlights:

Kyle Connor- Connor had an unbelievable season in the NCAA, putting up 71 points in just 38 games, or nearly two points per game. Connor has become a top flight prospect, and should walk right onto the Jets’ roster.

 

Brendan Lemieux- The son of Claude comes with a similar disposition, which means that he’ll help make the tournament more interesting. Lemieux also brings a lot of skill, as he was well over a point per game at the OHL level and had a decent stint in Manitoba to end the year.

 

Logan Stanley- Logan Stanley was an immediately-criticized draft pick, but he does carry a unique 6’7” frame, which should really stand out at this tournament. His path towards proving himself begins now, and he’s sure to make a physical impression at the very least.

 

Jack Roslovic- Another forward prospect making their debut after an NCAA career. Roslovic doesn’t have anything like the offensive totals that Connor has, but is considered a solid NHL prospect. Roslovic could end up centering Connor and Lemieux.

 

Axel Blomqvist, Chase De Leo, Jiri Fronk, Antoine Waked- The Jets definitely have the most candidates for the All-Name Team. Jiri Fronk is my personal favourite.  

 

 

Vancouver Canucks: 

Team Roster Link: http://canucks.nhl.com/v2/ext/Young%20Stars%20Roster%202016.pdf

Strengths: The Canucks might have the strongest goaltending in the tournament, with Thatcher Demko being backed up by Michael Garteig. This duo will be well protected by a deep defensive core that includes veterans like Jordan Subban, new arrivals such as Olli Juolevi and Troy Stecher, and other solid prospects like Guillaume Brisebois, Carl Neill, and Tate Olson.

Weaknesses: The Canucks are extremely weak up front, with six amateur invites and only eight players actually drafted or signed by the organization. There is not a single high-level forward prospect on the roster, and Cole Cassels is probably the best, which says a lot.

Roster Highlights:

Thatcher Demko- The chance to see Demko’s debut in Canucks’ colours will be special, and it helps that he’ll be facing down some of the best offensive prospects in the game.

 

Olli Juolevi- The Canucks’ highest draft pick in awhile is probably headed back to junior, so this tournament might be fans’ best chance to see him this year.

 

Michael Carcone and Yan-Pavel Laplante- The two free agent forward prospects signed by the Canucks this summer bring very different games. Carcone is an undersized scorer that will try to step right into a top-6 role with the Comets. Laplante brings some scoring skill, too, but is more known for his physicality and fighting prowess.

 

Countless Invites- Players on amateur tryouts will be taking this tournament more seriously than others, as they have potential contracts on the line, and the Canucks are loaded with eight invites. This means that the effort and desperation levels should be high for this squad at all times. Alexis D’aoust looks like the most interesting of the group, after putting up 98 points in the QMJHL.

Upcoming Training Camp Battles for the Canucks

Before the Canucks even get the chance to step onto the ice and begin competing with their NHL rivals, quite a few members of the team will have to do battle for their spot in the lineup. The Canucks’ roster is as in-flux as it’s ever been, and it should make for an exciting training camp.

 

The Sedins’ Right Wing-

Contenders: Loui Eriksson, Jannik Hansen, Anton Rodin, Jake Virtanen

Inside Track: Loui Eriksson was signed with this role in mind, and he has experience playing with the Sedins on the Swedish national team. In fact, when training camp commences, Eriksson will be getting an extended warmup with  the Twins at the World Cup of Hockey. All signs point to Eriksson winning this job, despite Jannik Hansen’s great season there in 2015-16.

 

Baertschi and Horvat’s Right Wing-

Contenders: Whichever of the above don’t win the Sedin job.

Inside Track: Anton Rodin had a phenomenal season in the SHL, winning their Best Player award, which is awesomely represented by a Golden Helmet that the reigning winner wears all year. Sadly, Rodin won’t be able to bring that lid over to the NHL, but the Canucks are hoping he can bring at least some of his scoring to the big league. Rodin only really works in a scoring role, and is likely to head back to Europe if he doesn’t make the roster, so it makes sense to give him an extended look on this line. Hansen can fit in well enough on the third line, and Jake Virtanen may benefit most from some AHL time.

 

Third Line Left Wing, Two 4th Line Wing Positions –

Contenders:  Alex Burrows, Emerson Etem, Derek Dorsett, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Grenier, Borna Rendulic, Jake Virtanen

Inside Track: Brendan Gaunce is waiver-exempt, but has arrived at the stage in his development where he needs NHL ice time. He should snag one of the wing spots, and preferably the one on the third line. Derek Dorsett is a near-lock to hold down the 4th line right wing job, love him or hate him.

That makes it a dogfight for that final 4th line left wing position. Alex Burrows has experience and versatility on his side, but Emerson Etem showed a lot of upside near the end of last season. It could go either way. Alex Grenier or Borna Rendulic would have to have exceptional training camps to make the team, and Virtanen’s waiver-exempt status makes him even more likely to start in the AHL.

One of these wingers could stick around as the 13th forward, but the team may choose to go with the loser of the 4th line center battle described below, instead. The club may also elect to carry 14 forwards, although eight defensemen looks more likely at this point.

 

4th Line Center-

Contenders: Markus Granlund and Mike Zalewski feat. James Sheppard

Inside Track: Markus Granlund was just re-signed for two years, and it seems like this job is his to lose. Mike Zalewski impressed with the Comets last season, but he does not have the skill or pedigree of Granlund. It is possible that the team will keep the loser of this battle around as the 13th forward, as teams usually like to keep an extra center on hand. However, it could also be any of the wingers that don’t make the cut in the above battle, too. Or both!

James Sheppard has just been added on a PTO to compete for this position, but seems like a long-shot. The former first rounder and NHL veteran finished 7th in points on his Swiss A League team, behind leading scorer Tommi Santala, so don’t expect too much from him. Likely just a warm body to fill out the veteran requirements of preseason games.

 

Bottom Pairing/Extra Defense-

Contenders: Luca Sbisa, Nikita Tryamkin, Philip Larsen, Andrey Pedan, and Alex Biega

Inside Track: Luca Sbisa and Nikita Tryamkin would have to do especially poorly in the preseason to lose their spots on the bottom pairing. Other options may provide more than Sbisa already, but his contract keeps him in for the time being, and hopefully his World Cup experience will give him a boost. With the team likely to carry eight defenseman, that leaves two jobs for three contenders. Andrey Pedan continues to be promising and brings some unique physical elements, and Philip Larsen has the most offensive potential out of any of them. That probably leaves Alex Biega on the outside looking in, despite a solid season in 2015-16.

 

Starting Goalie-

Between: Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller

Inside Track: The plan all along has seemed to be gradually transitioning from Ryan Miller to Jacob Markstrom. This is the last year of Miller’s contract, and Markstrom just signed a big extension, so the writing is on the wall. Miller will still play more than the average backup, but Markstrom should be getting the lion’s share of starts. He will, however, have to start the season as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup at the World Cup.

Other Potential Overseas Invites for the Canucks

The invite of James Sheppard, formerly of the Kloten Flyers in the Swiss A League, to Canucks training camp caught many fans off guard. Being that Sheppard ranked only 61st in league scoring, it stands to reason that there might be plenty of other potential invites hiding amongst the European leagues.

In making this list, I tried to focus mainly on forwards, particularly those that could challenge for the 4th line center spot, like Sheppard, or those that had any sort of potential as scoring wingers. I also looked for invites that would help the Canucks fill out their veteran requirements for the preseason, as several Canucks will be busy at the World Cup.

In reality, the Canucks will probably not invite anyone on this list, and at the most maybe one or two of them. It’s meant to be half serious assessment, and half “hey, remember this guy?” so take it with a grain of salt.

 

From the Swiss A League (NLA)

 

Josh Holden, 38, C

2015-16 Club: EV Zug

2015-16 Stats: 48 games, 18 goals, 30 assists, 48 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Toronto Maple Leafs (2003-04)

Last NHL Stats: 1 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points

-Still putting up a point per game at the ripe age of 38, it might be time for the Canucks to finally cash in some value on their 12th overall selection of Holden in 1996. Not a serious suggestion, but good to see he’s doing well. He would meet the veteran requirements, and might still be able to tear it up in the AHL, however.

 

Matt D’Agostini, 29, RW

2015-16 Club: Geneve-Servette HC

2015-16 Stats: 46 games, 20 goals, 20 assists, 40 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Buffalo Sabres/Pittsburgh Penguins (2013-14)

Last NHL Stats: 57 games, 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points

-D’Agostini is an offensive dynamo on a less-than-stacked Swiss team, and has produced at least one solid offensive season in the NHL. However, not a realistic contender for a top-6 spot in the NHL, and too weak defensively for bottom-6 duty.

 

Robert Nilsson, 31, LW

2015-16 Club: ZSC Lions

2015-16 Stats: 48 games, 12 goals, 40 assists, 52 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Edmonton Oilers (2009-10)

Last NHL Stats: 60 games, 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points

-Son of a former superstar, and a 15th overall pick himself, Robert Nilsson has always had plenty of potential. He showed flashes of it at the NHL level, but never consistently. He seems to have found his game in Europe, although his production in 2015-16 is partly due to Auston Matthews’ presence. Nilsson has produced fairly consistently in the NLA and KHL, and might be an intriguing invite.

 

Tommi Santala, 37, C

2015-16 Club: Kloten Flyers

2015-16 Stats: 48 games, 13 goals, 26 assists, 39 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Vancouver Canucks (2006-07)

Last NHL Stats: 30 games, 1 goals, 5 assists, 6 points

-Once touted by Canucks management as the best 4th line center in the NHL, Santala didn’t even manage to live up to that backhanded compliment. He was Sheppard’s teammate in Kloten, and did outscore him by a fair margin, but is probably pretty content in Switzerland at age 37.

 

Ryan Shannon, 33, RW

2015-16 Club: ZSC Lions

2015-16 Stats: 42 games, 9 goals, 26 assists, 35 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Tampa Bay Lightning (2011-12)

Last NHL Stats: 45 games, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points

-Another former Canuck, Shannon also got a boost playing with Matthews this year. He’s been a consistent scorer overseas, and has a history of production at the NHL level, but a combination of size and age make Shannon an unappealing invite.

 

Jim Slater, 33, C

2015-16 Club: Geneve-Servette HC

2015-16 Stats: 32 games, 15 goals, 13 assists, 28 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Winnipeg Jets (2014-15)

Last NHL Stats: 82 games, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points

-Slater is a former first round pick, but made his living as a character center. Generally had solid faceoff stats and provided grit and penalty-killing ability. He put up nearly a point per game in his first season overseas, and could be looking to come back with another NHL team looming.

 

Swedish Elite Leage (SHL)

 

Ryan Lasch, 29, RW

2015-16 Club: Frolunda HC

2015-16 Stats: 51 games, 15 goals, 36 assists, 51 points

Last AHL Season, Club: Toronto Marlies/Norfolk Admirals (2012-13)

Last AHL Stats: 30 games, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points

-Lasch has no prior NHL experience and was never drafted, likely due to his stature of 5’7”. Despite this, Lasch has been a very consistent scorer in Sweden since crossing over, and his production has exploded since coming to Frolunda. Had the second highest PPG in the league after Anton Rodin.

 

Patrick Thoreson, 32, LW/RW

2015-16 Club: Djurgardens IF

2015-16 Stats: 49 games, 15 goals, 33 assists, 48 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Edmonton Oilers/Philadelphia Flyers (2007-08)

Last NHL Stats: 38 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points

-Thoreson has scored everywhere but in the NHL. He had a long and productive stint in the KHL, before tearing up the SHL for a year in 2015-16. He just put up four points in three games to help Norway qualify for the Olympics, and is set to play 2016-17 in Switzerland. He obviously doesn’t mind travelling, so maybe a quick jaunt overseas to try out for an NHL club is enticing.

 

Finnish Elite League (Liiga)

Aaron Gagnon, 32, C

2015-16 Club: Lukko

2015-16 Stats: 60 games, 25 goals, 23 assists, 48 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Winnipeg Jets (2012-13)

Last NHL Stats: 10 games, 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points

-Gagnon is a long-time NHL tweener who seems to have found a home in Lukko. After three solid seasons there, he’s unlikely to leave, and is quite a long-shot for an NHL job. He is from BC, however, so a quick tryout with the Canucks could be fun.

 

Josh Green, 38, C/LW

2015-16 Club: KooKoo

2015-16 Stats: 58 games, 19 goals, 24 assists, 43 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Edmonton Oilers (2011-12)

Last NHL Stats: 7 games, 1 goals, 1 assists, 2 points

-Green would meet the veteran requirement, and can win some faceoffs, but that’s about it. Call this entry half “hey remember this guy?” and half “look at that zany team name!”

 

The KHL

-A special note on the KHL. Its season has already begun, and at this point players are unlikely to come over to the NHL for any reason, much less a tryout, and few have NHL out-clauses, anyway. In addition, some players are obviously in the KHL to stay, like Nigel Dawes, Dustin Boyd, and Brandon Bochenski, three North Americans who gained Kazakh citizenship to play for Team Kazakhstan. Still, outside of these players, there are some interesting names.

 

Matt Ellison, 32, C/RW

2015-16 Club: Dinamo Minsk 

2015-16 Stats: 54 games, 26 goals, 29 assists, 55 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Philadelphia Flyers (2006-07)

Last NHL Stats: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 2 points

-This guy was once traded for Patrick Sharp! Since that career highlight, Ellison has been providing consistently dominant offense in the KHL. He’s been there for nearly a decade, and seems unlikely to leave, but is young enough to maybe want another crack at the NHL.

 

Wojtek Wolski, 30, LW/RW

2015-16 Club: Metallurg Magnitogorsk

2015-16 Stats: 54 games, 18 goals, 29 assists, 47 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Washington Capitals (2012-13)

Last NHL Stats: 27 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points

-The former Avalanche had some great seasons in Colorado, and then his NHL career tapered off severely. He’s regained his scoring touch in the KHL, and may want another chance at NHL success. He’s Polish-born but has Canadian citizenship, so a shot with a Canadian club may entice him.

 

Cam Barker, 30, D

2015-16 Club: HC Slovan Bratislava

2015-16 Stats: 55 games, 9 goals, 31 assists, 40 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Vancouver Canucks (2012-13)

Last NHL Stats: 14 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points

-It’s nice to see Cam Barker finally having success somewhere. The Canucks really shouldn’t give Barker another chance, and they’re loaded on defense, anyway, but Barker’s point totals give reason to tamper expectations on Philip Larsen, who Barker outscored.

 

German Elite League (DEL)

 

Will Acton, 29, C

2015-16 Club: Schwenninger Wild Wings

2015-16 Stats: 46  games, 16 goals, 39 assists, 55 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Edmonton Oilers (2014-15)

Last NHL Stats: 3 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points

-Sure, it’s the German league, but Acton ripped it up, placing third in scoring and being the only one on his team in the top-20. Acton is a veteran grinding center when it comes to North American hockey. He has some experience with the Comets.

 

Jason Jaffray, 35, C/LW

2015-16 Club: EHC Munchen

2015-16 Stats: 52 games, 21 goals, 18 assists, 39 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Winnipeg Jets (2011-12)

 Last NHL Stats: 13 games, 0 goals, 1 assists, 1 points

 -Remember Jason Jaffray? He might be the only player I’ve ever witnessed get a fighting major in an overtime period. He was in the Canucks’ system for years, but there’s really no room in the organization for him anymore. It is nice to see him having success in Germany, however.

 

Dany Heatley, 35, LW/RW

 2015-16 Club: Nurnberg Ice Tigers

 2015-16 Stats: 46 games, 17 goals, 15 assists, 32 points

Last NHL Season, Club: Anaheim Ducks (2014-15)

 Last NHL Stats: 6 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points

 -Anytime you can add an NHL All-Star, you have to do it, right? Probably not. Heatley was less-than-stellar in the regular season for Nurnberg, but did put up 14 points in 12 playoff games. Here’s hoping this is a happy ending for his weird hockey story.

 

Other Notables:

There’s a defenseman in the Dutch league named Jasper Jaspers. He has two points in four seasons with the Amsterdam Tigers. I don’t think he should get a camp invite, but he has a great name.