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WWYDW: Professional Tryouts

We’re now deep into the bargain bin section of summer free agency, the point where players are starting to accept tryout offers because there just aren’t that many guaranteed contracts on offer. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask which free agents still out there might be good fits for the Oilers.

In recent days we’ve already seen two players who have been speculated as potential fits for Edmonton—defenceman Jared Cowen and forward Brandon Pirri—accept deals tryouts in Colorado and Florida, respectively:

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Still, there are a lot of familiar names left looking for work. A few will probably do what Kris Russell did a year ago and land short-term deals on the eve of training camp. Jaromir Jagr and Cody Franson, for example, should be able to find homes without needing to go the tryout route. But a lot will have to settle for tryouts.

Before we get into the possibilities, it’s worth pointing out that some good players can be found this way. Lee Stempniak is my go-to example for this; in 2015-16 he had 19 goals and 51 points after initially having to take a tryout deal in New Jersey. The Devils even managed to flip him for second and fourth-round picks at that season’s trade deadline.

Who could Edmonton look at? There is a long list of possibilities, but when I looked around the NHL I came up with five players who I saw as both a) potentially out of luck for a guaranteed contract and b) fits for the Oilers’ specific strengths and weaknesses:

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  • LW/RW Jiri Hudler. Hudler had a miserable and injury-filled season, and over the past three years has gone from 31 goals to 16 down to three. He’s still a plausible middle-six winger and a pure finisher—he has a career shooting percentage of 15 percent while scoring 79 percent of those goals at even-strength. It’s fun to imagine him adding some speed and creativity on a bigger line (say, Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic), even if it means starting a Jesse Puljujarvi or Anton Slepyshev in the AHL.
  • C/LW John Mitchell. Mitchell used to be a competent two-way guy who could do a bit of everything, but his offense disappeared last year and at age 32 its possible he’s done. On the other hand, he won 56% of his even-strength faceoffs last year, he kills penalties, he hits and he’s only one year removed from 10 goals. Colorado was a disaster last year, and it’s possible a decent utility forward just got lost in the mix. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having him in camp as injury insurance and to challenge players like Jujhar Khaira and Iiro Pakarinen.
  • LW/RW P-A Parenteau. Parenteau is a flawed player, but he’s also a right-shooting goal-scorer and those are not easy to find. He’s scored 13-or-more goals in six of the last seven seasons, and hit 20 as recently as 2015-16. He’d be the same kind of add as Hudler, except with more of a power play focus; he’d have to either get lucky with an injury or outperform one of the younger options in camp.
  • RD Dennis Wideman. I went back and forth on whether to include Wideman here, but he does make some sense as a third-pairing/end-of-roster type who specializes in power play work. Right now the betting line seems to be that Matt Benning will get the second power play point job, but given how pedestrian Benning’s offensive totals have been at all levels there’s no harm in bringing in some training camp competition. Injuries happen, and if Yohann Auvitu or even Eric Gryba gets bumped to the AHL because Wideman looks like gold in camp it’s hardly the end of the world.
  • C/LW Daniel Winnik. Winnik can play. He was a regular for a very good Washington team last year, mostly in a fourth line and penalty-killing role, though he also put up 25 points without ever seeing the power play. He’s mostly a winger these days, but can also play down the middle. He’d be injury insurance and competition for end-of-roster Oilers.
Oilersnation Radio Episode 88 – Art Ross Hartsaitl

Hudler and Parenteau are both plausible insurance policies for Edmonton’s top-nine forward group, while Winnik and Mitchell are nice end-of-roster options if there are injuries in camp. Wideman falls into the second category on the back end. There really aren’t any plausible second pairing defencemen still out there unless Franson finds himself unable to land a contract, and even if he does I think his mix of strengths/weaknesses is not a great fit for a Todd McLellan-coached team.

Who would you like to see the Oilers bring into camp on a tryout? Does one of the names above stand out, or would you prefer some other free agent—perhaps a Shane Doan or Jarome Iginla or Alex Chiasson? Or are you content to leave open spots so that players like Slepyshev and Puljujarvi are guaranteed (or nearly guaranteed) NHL jobs? Let us know in the comments section.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Zero risk in signing any player to a PTO so I’d bring in as many as you can.

    Most interested in Hudler, Parenteau and Wideman – Wideman was terrible last year but i wonder if he’d be OK on the third pairing – fighting with Gryba for 6D/7D.

    The more depth the better – we are one more injury on the backend away from panic.

    I’d add Franson to the list as well.

    • HOCKEY83

      I agree. Hartley is the main reason for Hudler’s decline in his last season in Calgary and then unfortunately with Dallas he had to battle the very odd mystery virus most of the season. I think he’s be a great pick up for any team. Wideman on the other hand is probably a bad choice as it was a constant Wideman effect excuse any time the flames got a penalty whether or not Wideman was on the ice. Got quite annoying after a while.

  • ed from edmonton

    The two most interesting guys still looking for a contract are Jagr and Iginla. What are the chances of either of these guys on a PTO? Iggie is intriguing and as a RW might be a fit. His numbers are going down hill, but would he be worth a look. PS, I see Shane Doan has officially retired.

  • lee

    With so few real pre season games, (by that I mean the players who are actually going to be on the final 23 roster), I am not a fan off having piles of players in camp.
    Sooner or later the Oilers have to rely on their farm team, especially to plug holes.
    There also has to be a carrot for those players who have played hard for their AHL team, if you keep bringing in 3rd and 4th line players it sends the wrong message to those trying to get to the big team.
    And while you can argue that they have to bring in other players because the farm team lacks talent, how many of those players in Pittsburgh who came from the farm team last year were house hold names?
    The team is solid, its mostly young and as long as they don’t have a pile of injuries, they will be fine.
    I remember when Eakin’s played his last pre season game with a bunch of players that were then sent down, the real team didn’t even have 1 game to play together before their first game of the season.
    I like it when the team sends players down after they have played 1 or 2 games, unless there is a player who truly stands out. By the last 2 pre-season games you should know your team and line ups.
    So when you factor in the split games that don’t do much for the coach or the GM, how many proper pre season games are there?
    Like most cap strapped teams, the Oilers will just have to rely on the farm team. Next season the farm team will be crucial for this team.

    • ed from edmonton

      The Oil are not a Cap strapped team this year, they have a 2 to 3 mil (or perhaps more depending primarily on how Pulujaarvi’s bonuses work out) space at the moment. Cap issues only start next year.

      • Trevy

        Hey you guys are the ones signing our scraps, cough, Russell and at $4 million x4! And now you’re talking Hudler, Wideman and Iggy!? Please enjoy, don’t forget Brouwer will be free in a couple years for you to ponder as well

        • McDavid's Comet

          Russel wasn’t scraps, Calgary gave him away for scraps because he didn’t want to resign with the fLames. I wasn’t aware that the Oilers signed Iggy, Hudler or Wideman either, when did that occur? Talk about scraps, didn’t fLames recently sign Gazdic and Korpikoski the year before? Looks like Brouwer *cough* regression *cough* will be yours for years to come. Lol enjoy fLames purgatory! Get used to being under the Oilers thumb for the next decade trevy.

          • Trevy

            Allow me to correct you on many incorrect facts, big surprise BTW. First of all, Russell wanted to come back to Calgary more than anywhere else, Treliving just couldn’t pay him what he wanted, which was obviously too much. Second, I didn’t say you signed other said players, only that they are of possible interest to the Oil. Third, Korpy was a PTO body that didn’t make the team and Gazdic will probably only play against the likes of you guys to make sure lunatic Kassian stays honest. Finally, Brouwer is with us for 2 more years after this and admiringly was a mistake as with you guys and Pouliot and Lucic. Talk about enjoying pergatory with that contract. Not to mention this is your last year to make some noise before your cap hell begins next season and with no depth and having to sign fringe players to stay under the cap, who really has the dark years ahead coming!

          • McDavid's Comet

            @ trevy

            If Russel wanted back in Calgary so much why is playing for Edmonton? Is because fLames dumped that money onto Brouwer’s front yard? Yes, you have two more yrs. of Brouwer instead of 3 more yrs. of Russell; good asset management.

            Did Charelli come out and say he was interested in ex-fLames players in particular; I don’t recall.

            fLames fans would be tickled-pink if they could have Lucic on their team. Deny it all you want but it’s true.

            Dark years ahead? That’s clearly a fLames fan’s wishful thinking, fLames fans are scared of one thing…. the “McDavid factor”. Lol enjoy watching yr. after yr. of McDavid and co. kicking your a$$ for the foreseeable future.

            Isn’t nice that you can troll here and get responses without people calling you names and crying out for Mama mod to remove you from the site? Perhaps it’s my fault, I predicted in a earlier post that fLames trolls would come out and here you are….

  • Brian J

    Bit off the board here, maybe, but I’d talk to Stephane Da Costa. Played well in the KHL last year, had a good Worlds for France, and was making noise at the time about wanting to try the NHL again. I haven’t heard anything since about NHL interest. He’s not big, but he’s not small either. Right hand shot too, I think. Best case, he could score at a second line rate for cheap.

  • OilCan2

    Camp will be very interesting this year. The Oilers are a young team. Look no further than our Captain. Our young players like Slepyshev, Nurse, Benning, Puljujarvi and Broissoit will be the storyline this season. Benson, Yamamoto, Bear, Paiygin, Jones will be the ones who REALLY want to make an impression this September. I would be more inclined to see PC pull another college grad into camp.

  • Svart kaffe

    Any of the above sounds good to me. As long as underperformers aren’t signed then who cares? But I don’t like the idea of having any young unproven guys squeaking in on the roster just because there was a nobody else to chose from.

    I remember when the team struggled to ice actual NHL:ers on all positions. I don’t want that again.

  • I wouldn’t consider any of the forwards on a tryout mentioned except Parenteau. The right side needs some competition and depth if Draisaitl moves to 2C.
    Defense — I’d consider Cody Franson. However, unless he takes a discount, his cap hit doesn’t make him as friendly as simply putting Gryba in the lineup and bumping up Benning.

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Russell – Franson
    Nurse – Benning/Gryba

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Lemmie do you a favour on Wideman: no.

    Hurler could work. He has a connection with Russell and he basically was a shepard for Johnny and Mont early on. He could have real value off the ice.

    I wouldn’t cry if the Flames got him back on PTO.

  • Atomic Clown

    For the love of god, don’t sign Wideman. The only team I would wish Wideman upon is Anaheim. The most common phrase uttered by the commentator when Wideman was on the ice was “and here’s wideman with the shot…and he shoots wide”. Then because he’d put the puck all the way around the boards, he would have to track back, and then he would either fall, or trip the opposing player and get penalized. I’m having unpleasant flashbacks writing this.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Did you know his actual middle name is “Shoots It” and the original form of his surname had a comma between; “Wide” and; “Man” ?

      All true. Go check wiki.

  • madjam

    Why waste time and space on any of them if they are unlikely to fill a position in the first place ? Chia and Todd probably feel there is plenty in system and new signings above any PTO’s that might be given a chance . Chia has probably had many agents giving him calls to give their players a PTO .

  • Trevy

    @McDavids comet…No GM is going to come out and say we want this guy or thinking of signing that guy, I was referring to the article at hand. We would love to have Lucic….3-4 yrs ago. Face it the man is entering his 30’s as a power forward making $6 million for the next several years. As for the McDavid factor, he’s one guy! I’ll even give you props with Draisaitl, although overpaid IMO. Fact is we are two totally different teams. We rely on overall team talent and you guys have to rely on two players and a goalie to stand on his head. Strategy against the Oilers will be simple, shut down McDavid, may not work all the time, but I’m thinking most. Finally, this is the first time I’ve come on here mainly because the likes of 97Train, Madjam, Northernlights and yourself love to come to FN and start talking trash. I have buddies that are Oiler fans and we can actually have decent chats/banter about our two teams without resorting to childish, immature and mindless garbage that some of you guys come out with right from the get go. So get use to me, I can play it anyway you like

    • shaner

      Hmmm, it really is simple, just shut down Mcdavid and then the flames have a better chance to win. Kind of sucks when the team you dislike so much has atleast the 2nd best player in the world (if not the best). Anyways maybe Calgary and the rest of the NHL will teach us a lesson about being “A team” instead of just a goalie and two good players.

      Ps Trevy likes is when it rains, so no one can see him crying.

    • McDavid's Comet

      The last time I graced fLamesnation was the last BoA but, sorry about your troubles with trolls trevy. If you stop paying attention to the trolls they will go away. If you’ve noticed some of your fellow flames fans such as “BringtheFire 2.0” or “Atomic Clown” can come and play nice why cannot you?

    • Mc?

      Funny thing about Lucic is he only scored 4 less goals and 8 less pts than Monohan. Oh and he is defensively responsible and hits like your entire 1st line combined. He also outscored Johnny Ringette and only had 11 less pts. Man he is over the hill.

      • Mc?

        Also just to show how biased you are. Milan Lucic is a career .61pts/game. Monohan is .68pts/game. That is a whopping 5pts more over an entire 82 game schedule. And he makes more than Lucic, and is your TOP C. Now dont get me wrong, i would take Monohan in 3/4 years time over Lucic, but as for last year and the coning years i take Lucic all day, not only because he puts up similar numbers, but because of everything else he brings to the table.

        • Mc?

          Ya Hockeydb.com is a great sight for quick career stats. Now in that being said Monohan is a top line C and Lucic is a top 6F ( LW ). Also Monohan is a pure sniper, Lucic just bear hugs the puck into the net, but yes his career stats ate pretty decent. And yes the last 2 years of the contract could hurt our team, but for what he brought to the Oilers ladtbyear and for the next few, he was a great signing.

  • belair

    Any reason why we’re ignoring Brian Gionta? I’m assuming the PTO’s going to the guy likely filling the 2RW spot next to Nuge if we’re running…Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl / Lucic-RNH-XXXX…

    Gionta had some decent production last season in Buffalo. Played some significant minutes and more importantly played in all situations. His offensive production really hasn’t dipped either the past few seasons–he’s been good for 30-40 points. Out of all the guys left out there at RW, I think he’s probably our best bet.