Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs

Chris Clark reportedly accepts tryout offer with Boston Bruins

It’s been a tough summer for a lot of the NHL’s fringe free agents. While many of those players have their flaws – and most have seen their best days – it’s still surprising to see that no one is willing to give the likes of John Madden or J.P. Dumont a shot.

Many of those fringe players have been forced to accept training camp tryout offers instead of actual contracts. Ray Emery will continue his fight to regain his footing in the NHL by attempting to make an impact with the Chicago Blackhawks this month. While some players have better chances than others to actually make the respective teams, the list goes on with Michael Nylander (Philadelphia), Jordan Hendry (Minnesota), Manny Legace (Vancouver), David Aebischer (Winnipeg) and more.

Kirk Luedeke passes along a New York Newsday report that veteran winger Chris Clark is expected to get his own tryout opportunity with the Boston Bruins. The 35-year-old right wing might have a chance to make the Bruins’ roster since the team could use another winger after Michael Ryder left town.

Clark spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Calgary Flames, where he was part of the team’s Cinderella run to the 2004 Stanley Cup finals. He then spent parts of five seasons with the Washington Capitals, where he scored 20 goals once and reached a career-high 30 in 2006-07, leading him to become the team’s captain. Injuries and a reduced role eventually prompted the Caps to trade him to Columbus in 2010, where he had limited success during the rest of the 2009-10 season and only played in 53 games last season.

So even though the Bruins have a slight need at forward, Clark is far from guaranteed a spot. He could be a moderate asset in Boston if he can stay healthy and produce at a moderate level, but the South Windsor, Connecticut native will need to impress in training camp to land a job.

Clark’s training camp will rank as one of many we’ll keep an eye on as the preseason approaches.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”