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Simon Gagne and the impending wave of NHL veteran training camp tryout invitations

Greg Wyshynski
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Simon Gagne might get a tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers this month, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He had 16 points in 27 games for the Flyers last season and could be slotted as a third-line winger for Philly; yet he’d attending training camp without a contract.

Why? Sam Carchidi writes it’s cap space in Gagne’s case:

"The Flyers are about $1 million over the $64.3 million cap; they will gain $4.9 million of cap relief, however, when Chris Pronger is put on the long-term injured list when the season starts. That would give them more than enough room to sign Gagne, 33, who collected five goals and 11 points in 27 games after being acquired from Los Angeles last season."

Gagne’s one of the lucky ones. If he doesn’t latch on with the Flyers – and based on the numbers and Paul Holmgren’s affinity for him, one assumes he will – Gagne will find a home somewhere in the NHL.

Others aren’t so lucky. It’s going to be an interesting month at NHL training camps, as a number of familiar names might have to join teams on professional tryout contracts.

In fact, we're already seeing it. Guillaume Latendresse is headed to Coyotes camp on a PTO. Ditto Radek Dvorak with the Hurricanes.

Why? One look at Cap Geek should tell you why.

There are 18 teams with less than $3 million under the $64.3 million cap, and six teams currently over it. The teams with elephantine cap space are ones that aren’t necessarily looking to spend: The Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames are all in a palpable rebuild. (Even the Flames have stopped deluding themselves about it.)

But beyond cap space, the real issue: There are no jobs. Seven teams have less than 22 players on their projected roster, according to Cap Geek. The good news is that the Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Toronto Maple Leafs are among them; but in the latter two cases, they have RFAs left to sign. Factor in rookies on the rise, and an entire swath of veteran players are getting frozen out.

Where does this leave someone like Vinny Prospal? Or Brenden Morrow? Or Ryan Whitney? Or really any goaltender, being that there’s practically no room at the inn for all 30 teams?

Europe’s always an option, although those seasons are nearing their start and roster spots are scarce.

Maybe the Scott Gomez Plan with the San Jose Sharks might be in order: Hang around the team, practice and hope that a contract materializes.

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