11 potential PTO players still available for the Vancouver Canucks to invite to training camp
Photo credit:© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
At this point, we are just a little more than a month away from the opening of Vancouver Canucks Training Camp 2023.
Some may look at the current shape of the Canucks’ roster and think that it’s mostly complete for the time being. But is it ever, really?
Every year, it seems, the Canucks find a reason to bring in at least one additional player on a professional tryout deal, otherwise known as a PTO. It was Danny Dekeyser last year. The year before it was Alex Chiasson. Other past highlights include Tuomo Ruutu, Jack Skille, and, of course, Owen Nolan.
Chances are very good that the Canucks will add at least one player to a PTO before Training Camp kicks off in September. Even if they don’t foresee a roster spot opening up for said player, there’s still plenty of reason for GM Patrik Allvin and Co. to make the offer anyway: hitting preseason veteran minimums, filling rosters for split-squad game, upping the competitive atmosphere, and so on. Plus, it’s practically free.
Below, we’ve collected 11 players that are still available on the open UFA market, and who we believe might be amenable to a PTO offer from the Canucks. They won’t invite all of them, naturally, but one or two quite literally could not hurt.
LHD, 24, 6’3”, 203lb
Some have made comments about the Canucks lacking a little in toughness heading into the 2023/24 campaign. That’s up for debate, but it is typically true that more goons come out to play in the preseason than at any time of the year, so some exhibition muscle may be desired.
Benoit is a borderline NHL-adequate defender who has spent the last couple of years breaking onto the Anaheim roster, in part due to his fists. Don’t think too hard about that high average ice-time, that’s mostly just a consequence of Benoit being on one of the worst teams in the NHL last year. He’s not built for those minutes, but he is built for the rough stuff. Benoit has scrapped with the feared Tom Wilson twice in his short career already, and while he lost both those bouts, even the fact that he was willing to try speaks volumes.
G, 34, 6’0”, 209lb
The Canucks are probably good on goaltenders. But if they do want to bring another one to camp, the only one left with real NHL qualifications (who isn’t injured) is Dell. Despite bouncing around, in, and out of the league his entire career, Dell’s overall stats are still quite respectable, and he remains a fine third-string option.
If the Canucks are sure they want to keep Arturs Silovs in Abbotsford, and are at all worried about Spencer Martin repeating his league-worst performance of last year, then handing a PTO to Dell is a fine backup backup plan.
Plus, his name sounds like the setting of Frozen, so if he doesn’t impress, the Canucks can just let him go.
LHD, 37, 6’4”, 210lb
Come onnnn. Wouldn’t this be fun?
Edler is probably considering retirement, but if there’s anyone out there who deserves one last chance to put on a Vancouver jersey, it’s him.
Inviting Edler to camp so that he can potentially retire as a Canuck at the end of preseason sounds like a fine way to put a bow on his career. That said, if one of Ian Cole or Carson Soucy moves to the right side full-time, there’s an opening at 3LD that Edler could theoretically help fill. He did play a fine bottom-pairing role for Los Angeles right into the playoffs last year, so the odds of him beating out the likes of Christian Wolanin and Jack Rathbone aren’t that long.
The Canucks did this for Brendan Morrison back in 2010. Why not Edler?
LW/C, 28, 6’4”, 212lb
There once was a time when bringing home the Surrey-born Khaira was a much more popular idea. Unfortunately, the last couple of seasons have not been kind to him, and head injuries have forced the burly forward to adjust his game accordingly.
But while Khaira doe have to play a safer game these days, he’s still got plenty of jam to offer, and he did manage to stay mostly healthy in 2022/23. His presence in Training Camp would up the competitive spirit at the very least, and he could be in the running as a valuable extra forward who can play all positions. He’d also bring a little bit of that necessary preseason toughness. Khaira still drops the mitts on occasion, and he’s still a lot to handle when he does.
LW, 28, 5’10”, 192lb
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It’s another summer of Motte waiting around for a contract, and it’s a bit of a headscratcher. Fans in Vancouver were enamoured with Motte’s hustle, as were fans in New York, who were more than happy to reacquire him at the Trade Deadline last year.
Once again, Motte produced at a better-than-decent pace for a fourth liner and gave it his all out on the ice. And yet, here he remains, on the open market without a deal. We like to think that Motte is just waiting to sign another one-year deal with a team of his choice, but if that doesn’t materialize, it’s hard to imagine a PTO that would bust his hump more to make a roster.
The Canucks already have some players lined up to play on their fourth line, but one never wants to make such spots a guarantee. Having to outwork Motte to earn a job is a high bar to set for the preseason, but a good one.
LHD, 29, 6’1”, 206lb
With Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk out of the league, Murray has the distinction of being the best player drafted in the top-three of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
To the surprise of no one, he had an injury-plagued campaign last year, and didn’t play an NHL game past November. But he did go on a conditioning stint to the AHL in April, and was theoretically available for playoff action with the Oilers if the call ever came.
Murray is what he is at this point: a steady, no-frills, bottom-end defender whose upside will forever remain untapped. Again, if the Canucks anticipate an opening at 3LD, bringing in someone with this much experience to compete against the Wolanins and Briseboises of the world isn’t a bad idea.
RW, 25, 6’4”, 201lb
What happened to this guy?
The ultimate example of “all the tools but no toolkit,” Puljujarvi has all but played his way out of the league. But all that talent remains, and if anyone could ever manage to unlock it, they might just have a considerable NHL player on their hands.
There’s little harm in inviting someone like Puljujarvi to camp to see what he’s got. Maybe the knowledge that this is his last shot can motivate him. Maybe having to fight for a contract for the first time in his life will light a fire.
Probably not. But maybe. It’s hard to see where Puljujarvi might fit into the Canucks lineup, but if another winger does end up moving, it starts to make more sense.
C, 24, 5’10”, 184lb
If Shaw just had a bit more size to offer, he’d definitely have an NHL contract. Known as a buzzsaw, Shaw is an energy-bringer that generally manages to contribute from the bottom-end of the lineup when kept within his limits.
The Canucks have a couple of centers lined up to man their bottom-six in Teddy Blueger and Nils Åman. Prospect Aatu Raty is also expected to get a shot there. Bringing in someone like Shaw ups the competition, and at least ensures that those other centers go into the season having earned their spot, as opposed to just being handed it.
If he performs well, he’s not the worst option as an extra forward, either, thanks to his versatility.
C/LW, 27, 5’11”, 179lb
Of all the players on this list, the one that probably should have a contract by now is Suter. He had a bit of a down year, sure, but it was only his third in the NHL, and he was coming off a 36-point campaign the year before.
In addition to offence from the bottom-six, Suter also boasts solid two-way and defensive play, including some success on the penalty kill. There’s nothing overly exciting about his game, but there aren’t any obvious holes, either, which is what one typically wants in a fourth line center.
Take what we said about Shaw above and apply it here, with the major difference being that Suter would have every chance in the world to beat out an Åman or a Raty for an NHL job, at least for the time being.
LW, 31, 6’4”, 204lb
We won’t waste too much digital ink here. Watson is a veteran tough guy who can and will throw down with the best and biggest of them, even if he doesn’t win particularly often. He’s the kind of player that teams bring in for added truculence during the preseason and then, if they prove popular enough, stash in the AHL for safekeeping. The Abbotsford Canucks may need a Vinny Arseneau replacement, and Watson could be it.
C, 26, 6’1”, 194lb
Aside from Suter, White is next on the list of “why isn’t he signed yet?”
White has fallen a fair bit from his 41-point season with the Ottawa Senators in 2018/19, his first full year in the league. But he remains a capable bottom-line center with size and tremendous skating ability.
White not only made the Panthers full-time last year, he wound up playing in 21 playoff games for them on route to the Stanley Cup Finals. How is someone good enough for a Cup finalist not good enough for another NHL contract?
We’re not sure, but if he doesn’t get one, there will be at least a handful of PTO offers thrown his way. As mentioned above, there’s room to compete for one of the Canucks’ bottom-six center jobs, and that could entice White to chose Vancouver over other PTOs.
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