Tag: tryout

Petr Sykora, lya Bryzgalov

Comeback complete: Petr Sykora signs one-year deal with New Jersey

This season in New Jersey is going to feel like old times for a lot of Devils fans. Petr Sykora, who had been in camp on a tryout, was signed to a one-year deal to officially rejoin the Devils. The deal is worth $650,000 and for the Devils, they get to keep an experienced goal scorer around this year for a team that is looking to get back to the playoffs.

Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger has the excited words from Sykora about landing back in New Jersey where he won his first Stanley Cup.

“I’m ecstatic,” Sykora told The Star-Ledger. “Of course I’m very happy. It’s something that seemed very far away a couple of weeks ago and it happened.”

Making the moment for Sykora even cooler and showing how much his Devils teammates appreciate his efforts in getting back to the NHL after a year away, Tom Gulitti tweets the scene in Newark when he hit the ice for practice.


You want a feel-good story to follow this year? Sykora’s comeback to the NHL at 34 years-old after being tossed aside in Minnesota two years ago and having to play in the KHL and Czech league last year is about as good as it gets. Sykora getting to do it all again with the team he started his NHL career with makes it even sweeter for him and helps give the story more of a Hollywood twist.

Perhaps Sykora can help make it even more storybook by helping be a key part of the team and leading them deep into the playoffs. For now, we’ll enjoy the story for what it is in seeing a guy get to go home once again.

Islanders signings: 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome and tryout Jay Pandolfo make the cut

Ryan Strome

It was another busy day on the Island as GM Garth Snow got to work on locking down a pair of guys at the opposite end of the spectrum of their careers.

For the guy at the beginning of his career, 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome impressed everyone in training camp and signed his three-year, entry-level deal with the team and will at least get a nine game audition in the NHL. With the Islanders having John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, as well as potentially Nino Niederreiter at some point early in the season they’re teeming over with young talent at forward.

Strome had a strong training camp and give the Isles hope that perhaps he can be the next youthful spark to lead them perhaps to the playoffs.  He’ll get nine games to show if he means business already in his young career. If he can’t cut it just yet, he’ll head back to Niagara in the OHL.

On the flipside of things, the Islanders also signed up training camp tryout candidate Jay Pandolfo to a one-year deal. Pandolfo is making his return to the NHL after not playing last season. Pandolfo had a long career with New Jersey before being eventually frozen out with the Devils after they felt he’d lost a step in his game.

Pandolfo will plug in as a fourth liner and they’ll hope he can show some of his defensive skills that made him a vital cog of the Devils Stanley Cup teams in 2000 and 2003. At the very least, Pandolfo will give the young Islanders the veteran presence to learn from in the locker room.

We’ve said it in our team preview, but the Islanders are a team worth keeping an eye on this year. They may not be a playoff team, but they’re going to be fun to watch.

Second-chance Swede: Fabian Brunnstrom signs one-year deal with Detroit

Fabian Brunnstrom

Fabian Brunnstrom is finding out that there’s no real hard feelings in hockey. After spurning the Red Wings for Dallas three years ago, Brunnstrom signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Red Wings after impressing Ken Holland and Mike Babcock enough in training camp to get the deal. Brunnstrom will make $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL if he’s sent there.

Back in 2008 when Brunnstrom came over from Sweden to join the NHL, he had two teams in hot pursuit of him in the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings. Being Swedish and getting interest from Detroit seems natural, but Brunnstrom opted to sign with Dallas to prove he could hack it in the NHL. After a strong debut that saw him score a hat trick in his first game, Brunnstrom faded into irrelevancy after two years with the Stars and was traded to Toronto.

The Red Wings’ affinity for Brunnstrom was still there enough so that Holland extended an invite to Brunnstrom and, for the most part, he’s looked focused and motivated to win a job with the Wings. Whether Brunnstrom sticks in Detroit or spends most of the year in Grand Rapids remains to be seen, but for Brunnstrom this could be his last chance to make it in the NHL.

After not being able to break through in Toronto last year, if he can stick in Detroit it’ll be a miraculous turnaround for a guy who was thought to be the next big thing out of Sweden.

Petr Sykora is totally going to make the Devils lineup

Petr Sykora, lya Bryzgalov

We’ve seen a couple of other solid training camp tryout stories work out well this season as Steve Staios and Trent Hunter won jobs with the Islanders and Kings respectively. For Petr Sykora in New Jersey, he’s having an outstanding camp scoring goals and showing the offensive flair he once had years ago for the Devils and not too long ago with the Penguins.

While the Devils are done with preseason games and the final cuts await later today, Sykora is at peace with how he performed whether he’s cut or not. The New York Times’ Chris Botta talked with Sykora about camp and finds out that the less Sykora has heard from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and the more praise he gets from Devils coach Peter DeBoer, the better off he is.

“I haven’t had any meetings, which I like,” Sykora said. “You are never called for a meeting when you’re playing great or good.”

Short of announcing a new contract for Sykora — which is Lamoriello’s responsibility — DeBoer paid the veteran forward the highest compliment Saturday night.

“I don’t know what else he could do, if you’re going to script a camp for a guy who’s walking on,” DeBoer said. “However it shakes out, I don’t think he can have any regrets about how he played and what he did to earn a spot.”

It sounds like Sykora won’t.

“It was important for me to prove that, in the right situation with the right players, I could still play in this league,” he said. “I believe it.”

With what the Devils are rolling with offensively, especially with Travis Zajac out to start the year, having Sykora around and playing well means nothing but good things for New Jersey. After all, with Dainius Zubrus alternating between useful scoring forward and being in the doghouse having another veteran like Sykora around is a great thing to have.

Sykora’s experience is good for younger guys like Nick Palmieri and Jacob Josefsen to learn from and hey, having one of Martin Brodeur’s old teammates from back in the day is a good thing for the Devils legend too. If Sykora can continue to fill the net the way he has in preseason and perhaps contribute up to 20 goals this season, that’s a huge lift for the Devils.

He’s got the experience, he’s got the skills, and he was able to help the Penguins win a Cup back in 2009. The Devils are a sneakily young team and Sykora will help them along both on and off the ice. Now if they can just go ahead and give him a number lower than 40 they’ll be good to go.

Another successful tryout: Kings sign Trent Hunter to one-year deal

Trent Hunter

Earlier today, Steve Staios was rewarded for a strong training camp with the Islanders on a tryout and given a one-year contract with the team. In Los Angeles, former Islanders forward Trent Hunter has done just the same inking a one-year contract with the Kings and locking down a spot in starting lineup. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the deal is worth $600,000.

Hunter spent eight seasons with the Islanders before being traded to the Devils this summer in the trade that sent Brian Rolston to Long Island. The Devils then bought Hunter out of his contract making him a free agent and after not getting any offers, he had to prove himself on a tryout with the Kings. Mission accomplished as Hunter had a great camp and beat out other hopefuls like Scott Parse for a job. Proper motivation can be a powerful thing and for Hunter the motivation to earn a contract got him to win a job.

Hunter will join another veteran in Ethan Moreau as older guys with experience to give L.A. the depth they need to be a major contender in the Western Conference. Instead of filling out ranks with guys from their AHL team that may not have been ready, guys like Moreau and Hunter give them NHL-experienced players to get the job done. The time is now to win in L.A. and having those kinds of players on the team help push that issue.