Tag: training camp tryout

Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks

Fernando Pisani should embrace reality and accept a training camp tryout

Confidence is a funny thing. While just about any hockey player probably grapples with fears and doubts from time to time, some combination of luck, courage, talent, hard work and confidence propelled them to the NHL level. Yet as pride and confidence might help a previously obscure player gain his 15 minutes of fame, those same thought processes can also be his undoing during times of uncertain employment. (Especially when good old-fashioned greed enters the picture.)

In most peoples’ eyes, five years isn’t a long time. The reality of professional sports, however, is a lot can change in five years. Just look at the career of Jonathan Cheechoo; he scored a league-leading 56 goals in the 2005-06 season but now finds himself mired in minor league irrelevance.

Such a predicament shouldn’t be lost on one-hit wonder Fernando Pisani. The marginal winger scored 14 goals and 18 points in 24 games during the 2006 playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers, becoming something of a folk hero in the process. That outburst ended up being a mirage, as he turned in rapidly decreasing numbers* with the Oilers after signing a four-year, $10 million on the heels of that outlier of a postseason run. That contract finally expired last summer, so the Chicago Blackhawks signed him for one year at the league minimum. They got what they paid for, too, as Pisani generated just 16 points in 60 regular season games and zero in three postseason contests.

Considering how far his career has fallen, you’d think Pisani would take what he can get. The 34 year old forward told Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal that he’s not interested in a training camp tryout or a sojourn in one of the European leagues, though.

“Going to camp (without a contract) isn’t a situation I want to be in. I’ll hang tough and see what happens in the next couple of weeks or so,” said Pisani, who has had his nose pressed up against the NHL glass for months, but nobody will let him in, or sign him.

“You never know what’ll happen in the summer. Early on, there were a lot of trades and action, but there hasn’t been much activity the last two or three weeks,” he said.


When asked if he might consider Europe, Pisani said: “No door is really closed.”

It’s perfectly fine that Pisani wants to handle this situation on his own terms, I’m just not sure he’s taking the right course of action. While he showed a willingness to kill penalties last season for Chicago (1:25 shorthanded minutes per game), Second City Hockey points out that he wasn’t a very effective penalty killer. He’s also been hounded by injuries, missing 155 regular season games since his magical playoff run in 2006.

If his last few seasons are an accurate portrayal of what he brings to the table, then Pisani is an aging winger with little upside and isn’t a particularly strong defensive player. My guess would be that his best chance to stick with an NHL team would be to change some minds in training camp – or better yet, have a hot string of preseason games – but the former Oilers forward looks primed to opt to hope for a break or two.

Then again, he got really lucky during one summer just five years ago, so maybe the bounces will go his way one more time.

* – Since signing that contract, Pisani scored 28 points in 2006-07, 22 in 07-08, 15 in 08-09 and 8 in 09-10 before departing for Chicago.

Chris Clark reportedly accepts tryout offer with Boston Bruins

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs

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.)

Comeback time? Jay Pandolfo gets a tryout with New York Islanders

Jay Pandolfo
1 Comment

Seeing who gets the call to get a chance to make a team via tryout is one of the rites of the fall when it comes to the NHL. Sometimes you’ll see an old goalie get the nod, other times it’s a guy trying comeback from injury. For the New York Islanders, they’re giving a former New Jersey Devil a shot to make a comeback in the league this time around.

Former Devils defensive forward specialist Jay Pandolfo is getting an invitation to Islanders camp where he’ll get a tryout and try to join up with former Devils teammate Brian Rolston. Pandolfo spent 13 seasons with the Devils but did not play in the NHL last year, playing in just 12 games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. Pandolfo and Rolston were teammates for five seasons in New Jersey. Rolston was more of the offensive player while Pandolfo was the guy on the third line being sent out to help shut down opponents top scorers.

If Pandolfo can recapture some of the play that helped him be one of the toughest defensive forwards in the NHL he can help the Islanders get a bit better defensively up front. As it is, Frans Nielsen is their lone standout defensive forward and he could use the help on his wing to give the Isles at least most of a line capable of battling the opponents top lines.

Realistically, however, Pandolfo is 36 years-old going on 37 and has more than likely lost a step in his play. If he can compete for a job and teach the Isles young forwards a thing or two about how to match up against opposing talent, then it’s an invitation to camp that will pay off in the end.

News bits: Brandon Segal signs in Chicago, David Koci and Ryan Johnson get tryouts

Brandon Segal

A handful of smaller moves are taking note here today. Listen up for all your roster obsessing needs.

Chicago signs Brandon Segal to one-year deal

Brandon Segal spent last season with the Dallas Stars organization playing in 46 games in Dallas scoring five goals and adding five assists. In 30 games in the AHL with the Texas Stars, Segal tallied seven goals and ten assists. He’s a speedy rough and tumble sort of forward who can drive the net hard and dig in the corners. He’ll try to land a job in Chicago out of training camp, but he might prove to be more of a factor for the Blackhawks’ AHL team in Rockford.

Ryan Johnson gets tryout with Detroit

Ryan Johnson is an experienced, journeyman center in the NHL and is best known for his faceoff ability and skills as a checking forward. Johnson spent last season playing in Chicago. In 34 games, he had one goal and five assists averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game. He’s a fourth line player and with Kris Draper now retired in Detroit, there’s a virtual open audition to see who could be that 13th forward off the bench. At 35 years-old, Johnson isn’t going to catch anyone by surprise and he’s also got an injury history to contend with as well. Still, he’s effective when healthy and getting a shot with a veteran team like Detroit makes sense.

Winnipeg brings David Koci in for tryout

One thing the Jets will be lacking in Winnipeg this year is someone to get physical with opposing sluggers. Enter David Koci as a potential answer to the void in Manitoba. Koci will be getting a tryout with Winnipeg to see if he can be an effective enforcer. Koci struggled with his play and with injury in Colorado the past couple seasons. Koci is strictly a fighter and his skill set is limited. If he wins a job with the Jets, whenever he suits up you’ll know who to put your money on to stir things up.

Is Michael Nylander’s training camp tryout a sign that the Flyers are worried about Jaromir Jagr?

Czech Republic v USA - 2011 IIHF World Championship

While his $3.3 million salary is a bit bloated, the Philadelphia Flyers might get more from Jaromir Jagr than many critics expect. If nothing else, he’ll be inspired in a big chunk of Atlantic Division contests. Beyond sticking it to the Pittsburgh Penguins, many overlook the fact that Jagr will also have added motivation to get on-ice “revenge” against the New York Rangers, a team he spent parts of four seasons with. The deal would have been worthy of more ridicule if the term wasn’t right, but since it’s just a one-year deal, their risks are isolated to that hefty price alone.

Of course, the $3.3 million question is whether or not the future Hall of Famer will be an effective NHL player after spending the last three seasons in the KHL. His final season with the Rangers was a relative disappointment; after scoring 123 points in 2005-06 and 96 in 06-07, Jagr fell short of earning the right to extend his contract in New York by scoring “just” 71 points.

Jagr put up those impressive 05-06 and 06-07 numbers skating alongside fellow aging forward Michael Nylander and both forwards seemed to decline once they parted ways. Nylander’s post-Jagr path has been downright disastrous; he began that 2007 off-season by messily spurning the Edmonton Oilers to sign an ill-fated deal with the Washington Capitals. His price was a big issue, but his style wasn’t very cohesive with the Capitals’ style either, prompting the team to bury him in the minors. Things got even worse for Nylander last season, as a season-ending injury kicked him while he was down and put his career in serious jeopardy.

After navigating some serious bumps in the road over the last few years, the two forwards will be reunited – at least briefly – in Flyers’ training camp. While Jagr received that handsome one-year deal, Nylander’s situation is more fluid: he must fight for a roster spot via a training camp tryout. That invitation makes Puck Update’s Steve Ovadia wonder if the Flyers are having some concerns about how Jagr might fit into their team.

In the frenzy of the NHL off-season, the Flyers might have thought signing Jagr seemed like a great idea. They got to stick it to the Penguins, who were also interested in Jagr. And they got people talking about something other than the Flyers trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

But when the excitement of signing Jagr cleared, I’m wondering if the Flyers suddenly found themselves with doubts about just how Jagr will fit into their team. Coach Peter Laviolette loves sending forwards to the net, while Jagr lives along the side boards. Will Laviolette have to run two different offenses depending upon who’s on the ice?

I suspect the Nylander invitation is a bit of an insurance policy on Jagr. If Nylander can still play well enough, I think the Flyers like the idea of having a security blanket for Jagr. Jagr and Nylander could do their own east-west thing while the rest of the team can execute Laviolette’s north-south game plan.

Nylander centering Jagr’s line would be more than a bit comical considering the fact that Jagr cited the perks of skating alongside Claude Giroux and Danny Briere when explaining why he signed with the Flyers.

The next season will be an interesting test of Peter Laviolette’s strategic skills since the Flyers roster shifted from an overloaded offensive power to a team that is structured like many other NHL teams (a decent spread of talent on offense and defense with a high-priced goalie). Jagr’s greatest impact will probably come on the power play this season either way, so it might actually make some sense to pair him with Nylander in even strength situations and then throw him on one of the top PP units.

Ultimately, that’s for Laviolette (along with both Nylander and Jagr’s efforts in practices and training camp) to decide. Whether they resemble a Broadway play or a traveling circus, the Flyers should remain one of the NHL’s most dramatic and colorful teams next season – so stay tuned.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)