Players on Tryouts Most Likely to Land NHL Contracts for 2015-16

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2015

Players on Tryouts Most Likely to Land NHL Contracts for 2015-16

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    The National Hockey League's summer salary squeeze has left a long list of serviceable talent willing to accept professional tryout offers. The players will arrive at training camps around the league with an eye toward proving they can still make valuable on-ice contributions.

    A smaller-than-expected rise in the salary cap for 2015-16 left general managers pinching their pennies over the summer. Now, teams that still need to fill roster holes can do so relatively inexpensively, with players who are well-suited to their specific circumstances.

    With training camps just a couple of days away from getting started, here's a look at the free agents with the best odds of parlaying their PTO contracts into full-time jobs for the upcoming season.

Jonas Gustavsson: Boston Bruins

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Age: 30 

    Previous Team: Detroit Red Wings 

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com7 GP, 3-3-1, 2.56 goals-against average, .911 save percentage

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    The Boston Bruins are in need of an experienced backup goalie. Starter Tuukka Rask appeared in 70 games last season—and the Bruins chose not to re-sign his primary backup, Niklas Svedberg.

    An excellent backup when he's healthy, Jonas Gustavsson missed most of last season—first with shoulder problems, then with a season-ending concussion in March, according to the Hockey News.

    If The Monster is fully recovered and shows well at training camp, he could provide stability in net that would reduce Rask's workload and give top prospect Malcolm Subban the time he needs to develop his game in the AHL.

David Booth: Florida Panthers

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    Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Previous Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com: 59 GP, 7-6-13

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    After a four-year Canadian detour, David Booth's NHL path has led him back to the team that drafted him 53rd overall in 2004: the Florida Panthers.

    Booth had the most success of his career with the Panthers, cracking the 20-goal plateau three times during his first stint in the Sunshine State. After the Vancouver Canucks bought him out, Booth showed brief flashes of his old scoring touch during his season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Panthers are coming into training camp with some roster spots open up front and have yet to come to terms with restricted free agent and left winger Jonathan Huberdeau.

    If Booth finds his old touch while he's playing Huberdeau's minutes during training camp, the Panthers shouldn't hesitate to offer him a one-year deal.

Tomas Fleischmann: Montreal Canadiens

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Age: 31

    Previous Teams: Anaheim Ducks; Florida Panthers

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com

    • Anaheim Ducks: 14 GP, 1-5-6; playoffs 6 GP, 0-1-1
    • Florida Panthers: 52 GP, 7-14-21

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    A two-time 20-goal scorer during his NHL career, Tomas Fleischmann is being brought in to help fill a hole during the Montreal Canadiens' training camp. First-line left wing Max Pacioretty is currently recovering from a summer knee injury, with no definite timetable for his return.

    The Habs are hoping to boost their offense after finishing 18th in scoring last season. Fleischmann's a versatile, responsible forward who can play both wing and center, and his setup instincts are as strong as his nose for the net.

    Knowing they have a gem on their hands with Carey Price in the prime of his career, the Canadiens are looking to contend for the Stanley Cup sooner rather than later. Fleischmann's a steady vet who can help with that quest.

Steve Bernier: New York Islanders

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    Adam Wiepert/Associated Press

    Age: 30

    Previous Team: New Jersey Devils

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com: 67 GP, 16-16-32

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    Steve Bernier started the 2014-15 season with the AHL Albany Devils. After New Jersey recalled him in early November, the big winger responded with 16 goals—the best total of his career.

    If the enigmatic Bernier has finally tapped into his full NHL potential, he could be a nice addition to a young, talented group of New York Islanders forwards. The move from Jersey to Brooklyn would do wonders for Bernier's chances at a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2015-16.

Ray Emery: Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    Previous Team: Philadelphia Flyers

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com31 GP, 10-11-7, 3.06 goals-against average, .894 save percentage

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    Many have lauded the Tampa Bay Lightning for their depth in net, but their situation changed abruptly on September 4 when the team announced on its website that backup Andrei Vasilevskiy would miss two to three months of action after removal of a blood clot.

    Enter Ray Emery—a veteran of 11 NHL campaigns and four different teams. Though he has shuffled around over the last few seasons, Emery posted a 17-1-0 record with the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

    Emery's chances of securing a contract with the Lightning may have improved even more on September 15, when third-stringer Kristers Gudlevskis left the Lightning's prospects game with what appeared to be an arm injury, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

    If the injury sidelines Gudlevskis for any length of time during training camp, the door swings wide open for Emery the opportunist.

Curtis Glencross: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Age: 32

    Previous Teams: Washington Capitals; Calgary Flames

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com

    • Washington Capitals: 18 GP, 4-3-7; playoffs 10 GP, 1-0-1
    • Calgary Flames: 53 GP, 9-19-28

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    Curtis Glencross plays the kind of game that fans of the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs will embrace—a fiery team player who chips in offensively and isn't afraid to drop the gloves.

    The Leafs had good success with PTO players last season, using Daniel Winnik, Mike Santorelli and David Booth in key roles and picking up assets for both Winnik and Santorelli at the trade deadline.

    Right wings Brad Boyes and Devin Setoguchi will also be competing for a spot on Mike Babcock's roster, but Glencross' hardworking determination makes him the best fit of the three for the Leafs.

Derek Roy: Washington Capitals

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Age: 32

    Previous Teams: Edmonton Oilers; Nashville Predators 

    2014-15 Stats from NHL.com

    • Edmonton Oilers: 46 GP, 11-11-22
    • Nashville Predators: 26 GP, 1-9-10

    Why He'd Be a Fit

    The Washington Capitals have an immediate need for some help down the middle. Nicklas Backstrom is recovering from offseason hip surgery and is expected to miss at least the preseason, according to Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post.

    Roy could stick around even after Backstrom returns to action—he proved to be an excellent mentor for Nail Yakupov after his December 2014 trade to the Edmonton Oilers. In Washington, Roy could find himself playing a similar role alongside an up-and-comer like Andre Burakovsky or even the quickly developing Tom Wilson or Marcus Johansson.

    In his prime, Roy was a reliable 20-plus-goal scorer with the Buffalo Sabres. For the first time in a few seasons, he showed signs of that level of play while he was in Edmonton. He'll try to bring the same effectiveness to Washington.

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