With a rather large pool of unsigned veteran players to choose from, the Blue Jackets have opted to increase the competition in their training camp. To that end, Columbus announced that forwards James Sheppard and Antti Pihlstrom have been extended professional tryout offers.
Sheppard is coming off of a one-year, $1.3 million deal for the 2014-15 campaign. He started the season with San Jose, but was dealt to the Rangers on March 1 in exchange for a 2016 fourth round pick. He finished the season with seven goals and 18 points in 71 contests.
The 27-year-old is a veteran of 394 games and has recorded 91 points and 192 penalty minutes over that span.
Pihlstrom is a different case as the 30-year-old hasn’t played in the NHL since 2008-09. Instead he’s spent parts of the last four campaigns in the KHL. He had 16 goals and 28 points in 60 contests with Ufa Salavat Yulayev last season.
Columbus only has 11 forwards inked to one-way contracts, but that doesn’t include Alexander Wennberg or Boone Jenner. When those two are factored in, it’s hard to see Sheppard or Pihlstrom making Columbus’ opening game roster unless there’s an injury.
This has been a rough free agent market for veteran players in general, so it’s naturally been particularly hard on those looking to bounce back after a rough campaign.
As the Bruins battled for a playoff spot they decided to scratch Daniel Paille for their final nine games. It was under those circumstances that the 31-year-old forward entered the free agent market and with training camp just around the corner, he remains unsigned.
Paille feels ending the season with a prolonged period in the press box is a big part of the reason he doesn’t have a contract right now. It was an unfortunately way to end his tenure with the Bruins, but he still cherishes his time with the organization even as he searches for a new home.
“I’m looking for that opportunity to really come out firing,” Paille told CSN New England. “I feel like I’m a different person after coming through this summer. I felt like I did everything that I could last year, and there were certain things that were out of my control. But now it’s over with, I’ve moved on and I’m looking forward to a new opportunity.”
Coming off of a three-year, $3.9 million deal, Paille is still hoping to land a guaranteed contract rather than settle for a professional tryout. He also hasn’t ruled out signing in Europe.
Paille has 85 goals and 172 points in 570 career games with the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres. He won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011.
It looks like Louis Domingue won’t play in Europe after all.
Back in late July, Coyotes GM Don Maloney said that Domingue passed on Arizona’s two-way qualifying offer so that he could instead play in Europe. However, the Coyotes announced today that Domingue has indeed agreed to a one-year, two-way deal.
Domingue had a 2.73 GAA and .911 save percentage in seven games with Arizona last season. However, the 23-year-old netminder isn’t expected to make the team’s opening game roster as the Coyotes signed Anders Lindback to a one-year, $875K deal to serve as Mike Smith’s understudy.
With that in mind, it seems likely that Domingue will return to the minors and compete with Niklas Treutle, who signed with Arizona after a superb season in Germany. In addition to his work with the Coyotes last season, Domingue also posted a 2.68 GAA and .908 save percentage in 20 AHL contests.
At the age of 18, defenseman Ryan Pilon has decided to leave the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.
“Ryan came to me this week and told me that at this time he has lost his passion to play hockey and will be leaving the team,” Brandon coach and GM Kelly McCrimmon said, according to Sportsnet.
Pilon had 11 goals, 40 assists, and 40 penalty minutes in 68 WHL games last season. He was selected by the New York Islanders with the 147th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That pick was well traveled as it originally belonged to the Montreal Canadiens, but was dealt to the Florida Panthers in 2014 in exchange for Mike Weaver. The Panthers later traded it to the Islanders in exchange for a 2016 fifth round selection.
NHL Central Scouting’s John Williams described Pilon as a smart player that was particularly good when it came to puck management, per NHL.com.
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, but there’s one aspect of their game that the Calgary Flames don’t want to emulate.
During the 2015 playoffs, Chicago leaned heavily on defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya. In early May Michal Rozsival suffered an ankle injury and that led to the Blackhawks using their top-four defensemen even more extensively as no other blueliners averaged more than 10 minutes per contest.
That worked out, but it was also a big burden on those four players. Calgary had a group that, when healthy, could similarly carry that kind of load in T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell, but after acquiring Dougie Hamilton over the summer, Calgary won’t have to resort to that. The Flames should be able to use all three pairings with confidence, which has the potential to pay off as the campaign progresses.
“When we throw a defenseman on the ice, he will be 100% rested because part of our style is go, go, go,” Flames coach Bob Hartley told the Calgary Sun.
The main question now is what the Flames’ defensive pairings will look like as Hamilton potentially throws a wrench in their old setup. It’s a good problem for Hartley to have and he’ll deal with it by trying a lot of different combinations over the preseason.