Ryan Lambert

What We Learned: Your guide to awkward training camp invitees

Ryan Lambert
Puck Daddy

View gallery

.

Hello, this is a feature that aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

Now that we've all had a chance to chuckle ourselves silly over that whole Dan Cloutier(notes) getting an invite to Detroit Red Wings training camp thing, I figure it's time to look around the league and see who else is getting an invite to some other training camps.

I won't cover everyone, of course ("But what about that rookie goalie that'll be among first cuts?!"), but some of the more notable ex-NHLers are worth a gander, if only because you recognize the name but cannot imagine why they'd get invited to a professional hockey team's tryout camp.

Also, some of these are just funny.

You never know, though. The Bruins invited a 33-year old Glen Metropolit(notes), who had played in three different countries in the prior three seasons, to camp a few years ago. He made the team, somehow scored 33 points, then milked a two-year contract worth $2 million from the Philadelphia Flyers out of it, so what the hell, right? Anything's possible.

(Coming up: The Maple Leafs invited WHO?; why Atlanta's thinner at center than an hour glass; who's the scapegoat when the Habs are baaaaa-d; the run on Kessel will last considerably longer than 12 parsecs; the Wild try to Maxim-ize their offense before they Petr out; and why the latest plan from the NHL Net- doesn't -work.)

Anaheim Ducks

The invitee: Kyle Calder(notes)
Really?: Yes.
Last year: He was actually on an NHL team. Well, kinda. He was on the Los Angeles Kings, and scored 8-19-27 in 74 games, despite most often playing with Dustin Brown(notes) (24-29-53) and one of either Jarret Stoll(notes) (18-23-41) or Anze Kopitar(notes) (27-39-66).
Why he might make the team: He's a left wing and the Ducks have like two of those under contract, and can also play center (though the Ducks have about 50 of those).
Why he won't make the team: Even the Kings didn't want him. He only scored 27 points despite playing more shifts than just about anyone on the team and with good-to-great linemates who all outscored him significantly.
Is there somewhere else I can get some details on this?: There sure is.

Atlanta Thrashers

The invitee: Manny Legace(notes)
Really?: Why not, I guess.
Last year: He got fairly significant minutes when Chris Mason(notes) got hurt early in the season, but his numbers were not so good; a big 3.18 GAA and a too-small .885 save percentage. Your average AHL call-up could do that.
Why he might make the team: Kari Lehtonen(notes) could explode at any second, and might be standing near another goalie (who is also better than Legace) when he does. Also, the Blues didn't suffer too mightily despite his poor stats, going 13-9-2 in games in which Legace got a decision.
Why he won't make the team: He's more than a bit past it, Ondrej Pavelec(notes) still has upside (allegedly) and Johan Hedberg(notes), whose stats were somehow worse than Legace's, is still under contract.
Where can I possibly hear more about this pressing issue? Birdwatchers Anonymous, of course.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The invitee: Jared Aulin(notes)
Really?: Really.
Last year: He appears to have not played hockey, but Wikipedia says he was a bartender at popular Calgary Flames postgame hangout "Cowboys." So there's that.
Why he might make the team: He was a fairly high pick and positively lit up the CIS in his last year of organized play, scoring 14-20-34 for the U of Calgary in 2007-08. Plus it's not like Columbus' cup runneth over with centers; Manny Malhotra(notes) and Jason Chimera(notes) were their most-used pivots last year.
Why he won't make the team: Come on, he hasn't played pro hockey since 2007, and even then went 2-2-4 in 13 games in the AHL.
Where can I possibly get the scoop on this?: Right here, buddy.

View gallery

.

New York Rangers

The invitee: Kyle McLaren(notes)
Really?: Yup.
Last year: He clearly pissed off someone in the Sharks front office. They sent him to Worcester, where he still only played 22 games, picking up 1-6-7.
Why he might make the team: The Rangers could be demoted to the AHL any second now, and McLaren might be a decent second-pairing defenseman in that league if he can stay healthy.
Why he won't make the team: His injury-prone, there are lots of young d-men in the system that could use a shot, the Rangers don't care about defense, etc. etc. etc.
What further info could I possibly want?: This info, my man.

St. Louis Blues

The invitee: Darryl Sydor(notes)
Really?: So it would appear.
Last year: He played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars, and was not out-and-out terrible as an NHLer like most of the other guys on this list would have been or were. The offensive numbers weren't great (just 3-12-15 in 73 games), but he was only a minus-2 in 65 games for that Dallas team while playing 18:42 a night. You make that deal any time.
Why he might make the team: He probably has a hell of a chance to do it, actually. Eric Brewer's(notes) gonna be out for a few weeks (though not for the whole season like everyone thought for a while), they need some veteran defensemen that aren't Mike Weaver(notes), and so forth. Plus he'll be cheap, which is always nice.
Why he won't make the team: The Blues have a few young defenseman to whom they'd probably like to give minutes, and Sydor ain't exactly a spring chicken at 37. I think he'll make the cut though.
Further deets?: You got it, big fella.

And of course...

Detroit Red Wings

The invitee: Dan Cloutier
Really?: Somehow, yes.
Last year: He lived with his brother in Corpus Christie, Texas, I've heard.
Why he might make the team: Red Wings management clearly hates Jimmy Howard(notes) and will do anything to make him cry.
Why he won't make the team: I think the answer's obvious.
Is there anyone that didn't laugh out loud at this announcement?: No.

What We Learned SVE

Because it's summer and hockey is a sport typically played on ice and toward which the media is traditionally apathetic, there's not a ton of actual news on every team floating around out there (shocking I know!). So here's a shortened version of WWL, where if I couldn't find a decent story within three blogs or news sites, I stopped looking. I'm on vacation too, dammit. Be warned: there's nothing going on.

Anaheim Ducks: Word on the street is that Luca Sbisa's(notes) turning heads at prospect camp, to the point that some Ducks bloggers consider it a foregone conclusion that the kid's gonna make the team outright. Randy Carlyle seems to have him pegged for that much.

Atlanta Thrashers: How you know things are bad in Atlanta, Part 192 -- I can't guarantee that the poll will still be there by the time you read this, but the poll on the AJC's Thrashers page asks "Who should center the Thrashers' top line?" The choices: Rich Peverly, Marty Reasoner(notes), Todd White(notes). Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyikes. For the record, at the time I voted, Peverly was the runaway favorite with 69 percent.

An NHL general manager (I forget which, Darryl Sutter maybe) once said that there are only 10 or 15 bonafide No. 1 centers in the league. The Thrashers might not even have a bonafide No. 2.

View gallery

.
Boston Bruins: If you ever wondered who, exactly, is Blake Wheeler's(notes) spiritual mentor, we now have our answer. It's Keith Tkachuk(notes).

"The difference was eating. I ate a lot,'' Wheeler said. "I did a little bit more running and conditioning to help out later in games. But for the most part, it was just eating good and eating a lot. That was the difference.'' That's breakfast, two lunches, and dinner.

Calgary Flames: The Flames are actually considering re-signing Olli Jokinen(notes) after this season, says Jokinen's agent. Not sure how I feel about that. Probably bad.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Puck Rakers talked to Manny Malhotra, the Blue Jackets' PA rep even though he's not under contract with the team, about the whole Paul Kelly thing, and Malhotra revealed very little. However, here's a part I found real interesting:

Q: Have you informed the rest of the Blue Jackets players of what has gone on?

A: Not entirely. We'll sit down as a group when all the guys are in town, probably in the next few days. I've talked to guys individually, and answered some of their questions. But we'll get more into when the whole group is back.

Yeah, not consulting the players you purport to represent before making a major, aggressive move like that. It doesn't strike me as them railroading the guy at all.

Detroit Red Wings: Nicklas Lidstrom's(notes) elbow rehabbed just fine. He says it's only his health (and not the rapidly-growing rate at which his skills are understandably diminishing) that will determine how much longer he stays in the game. Meaning he'll be the next Chris Chelios(notes)-type "lol he's old" punchline if, in fact, Mr. Chelios has retired by the time Lidstrom turns 40, which isn't a guarantee.

Edmonton Oilers: Here we have a heartfelt plea for the Oilers to get someone, ANYone, that's not a 5-foot-9 skill player to eat significant minutes before the season starts so these little fellas don't get steamrolled by every team in the West come October.

Minnesota Wild: Not content to merely be a poor offensive team, Minnesota is considering becoming a slightly-better-than-poor-but-noticeably-lazier offensive team. Max Afinogenov and Petr Sykora(notes)? I bet that'll work out!

Montreal Canadiens: Habsworld has a look at the top five potential scapegoats of the season when if the Habs are in 10th place in mid-January. I was shocked to see Scott Gomez(notes) so far down on the list. I put him even above Hal Gill(notes), whose signing still makes zero sense.

Nashville Predators: The Preds feel like they're going to improve in power play situations. 'Course, they were fifth-worst in the league with an efficiency of 15.7 percent last year. So it's almost mathematically impossible to be worse, isn't it?

New Jersey Devils: I hadn't thought about it much until I saw this article, but the Devs really did turn over a LOT of players this offseason. Brian Gionta(notes), John Madden(notes), Mike Rupp, Scott Clemmensen(notes), Kevin Weekes(notes) and Bobby Holik(notes) are all out, and replaced, at least partially, with kids. You'd almost say they won't be that good this year, but then you'd be forgetting they're the Devils and they're always good somehow.

View gallery

.

New York Islanders: I guess I get why guys like Doug Weight(notes) will always say that the Islanders are going to play to win every game and how important it is to not have too many injuries so as to not slip too much in terms of quality. It's just dishonest. What he should say: "We're playing not to get blown out every game, and injuries suck but we're just starting a rebuild, so I don't see them making a huge difference."

New York Rangers: Oh hey, were you excited that the Traverse City prospects tournament started yesterday? I sure was. The NHL's Twitter page was pushing it the last few days, and it was fun to watch on the NHL Network last year as somewhat of an appetizer to preseason hockey and the season itself. Which is why, I assume, the NHL Network decided not to carry it this year. What a brilliant league. I'd much rather watch highlights from Capitals/Lightning Game 5 from 2003 that's running on NHLNet as I type this.

The league really needs to stop trying to frustrate, anger and alienate its few fans at every turn. But maybe that's just me talking crazy.

Ottawa Senators: Erin Nicks makes a good point (as per usual) regarding Dany Alfredsson's supposedly-harsh comments about The Heatley Affair: what did you want the guy to say? Heatley's an idiot and he's creating nothing but negative attention, so why wouldn't the team's captain, longest-tenured player and best forward for many years now, say the guy's an idiot?

Philadelphia Flyers: It seems Ray Emery(notes) is, not surprisingly, not going to get away from Ray Emery's reputation, even with the year in Mother Russia.

Phoenix Coyotes: So you want to move an NHL franchise? That'll be $101-195 million for a relocation fee. Or, if you prefer, a "give us this much money Balsillie you jerk" fee.

Pittsburgh Penguins: That same LeBrun article linked in the Calgary section also mentions that the Pens have begun negotiations with Sergei Gonchar(notes) on a contract extension. I remember that us internet hockey nerds thought the contract he's just finishing now was laughable. "Five years," we scoffed. "They're gonna regret that." Not so much.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Want to feel even more worthless than you currently do on a Labor Day morning? Pop your salary into this handy tool and find out how infinitesimally tiny your paycheck is in comparison to Vinny Lecavalier's. Then try not to kill yourself.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Said TSN's Darren Dreger on Twitter last night: "Bruins say they've told Burke if he goes after Kessel, they will match. This may be fun to watch. :)" Emoticons aside, I have a feeling that if Burke wasn't going after Kessel with this allegedly-forthcoming offer sheet before (I like Brandon Dubinsky's(notes) truculence for the Leafs, really), he sure will now. Nothin' Burke likes better than irritating people and putting division rivals in uncomfortable situations.

Vancouver Canucks: If Mathieu Schneider(notes) stays healthy, he could pull down $1.2 million in bonuses. Yeesh.

Took the week off: Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals.

View gallery

.

Thing of the Week

Sure, Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets is going to IM me later to laugh at my apparently lame taste in hip hop (hopefully the plug should help smooth things), but I urge you to pick up Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 when it drops tomorrow.

See? "Drops." I'm hip.

Anyway, the album's excellent.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "DarkForest91" has a cracker of a trade between Calgary and Nashville.

Mark Giordano(notes) (0.891) 2011 UFA

Brett Palin(notes) (0.497) 2010 RFA 2 way

Kris Chucko(notes) (0.650) 2010 RFA 2 way

For

Joel Ward(notes) (1.5) 2011 UFA

The Flames' dumping unwanted players for one of the Preds' most effective wings last year. Sounds great.

Signoff

Bye.

The Two-Line Pass publishes hockey awesomeness occasionally. Please do check it out. Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

View Comments