NHL Rumors: Blue Jackets sign Michael Del Zotto to a PTO, who will be next to get one?

NHL training camps are set to open on December 31 for teams that missed out on Return-To-Play action and January 3 for the rest of the league. Plenty of the top UFA’s have signed with Mike Hoffman still holding out for a multitude-year deal.

Obviously not all available free agents are going to get NHL contracts. Some would make great candidates for a PTO (professional tryout). With the creation of a 4-6 man taxi squad, these guys will certainly get a look.

The Columbus Blue Jackets got things started when they signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a PTO on December 25. Who will be next?

Derick Brassard, C (33 years-old)

Big game Brass will become Big Bargain Brass for the team willing to give him a 1 year deal at $1 million. He scored 32 points in 66 games last season but really showed something for the surprising Islanders in return to play.

NHL free agents still available
Brassard playing big again (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In 18 games this summer, Brassard notched two goals and eights points. He helped the Islanders get to the Eastern Conference Final. The latest rumors have the Isles still interested, but they still have to handle the Mat Barzal situation.

Corey Perry, RW (35 years-old)

Corey Perry a great PTO candidate (Bruce Bennet / Getty Images)

Perry showed he still had something left in the tank and helped the Dallas Stars get to the Stanley Cup Final. He did so on a one year deal for just $1.5 million and he likely will sign for something similar again.

The big power-forward scored 21 points in 57 games last season. He also added 9 points in 27 RTP games this summer. He would be a nice third line add for many teams but would need to prove himself at camp in this economy.

Latest rumors have him attached to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Trevor Lewis, F (33 years-old)

The two time Stanley Cup champ is still waiting for a job. He scored 12 points in 56 games last season with the L.A. Kings but their youth movement doesn’t see him as a fit anymore.

He certainly would add a solid veteran presence to a young team looking for bottom six help.

Craig Anderson, G (39 years-old)

nhl rumors capitals
Craig Anderson (AP)

Anderson has been the backbone for a very bad Ottawa Senators franchise for a long time. On most nights, the Senators would’ve been blow out of the water if not for this 17 year veteran.

If teams are looking for a solid net minder who can still stop the rubber, Anderson is your man. Should teams remain unsure, a PTO invite could be all they need to make up their minds.

The Capitals could be very interested in Anderson or the next goalie on this list now that Henrik Lundqvist is unable to play.

Jimmy Howard, G (36 years-old)

Poor Jimmy Howard. He was under assault last season for a terrible Red Wings team and managed a 2-23-2 record. However, in 543 NHL games Howard’s record is solid at 246-196-70 with a 2.62 GAA and .912 SV%.

He’s only played for one franchise, but is probably eager to get with a contender. I wouldn’t be surprised if his agent hasn’t already called the Caps.

Carl Soderberg, C (35 years-old)

NHL PTO candidates
Soderberg still available (CP)

Last season Soderberg put up decent numbers for the Arizona Coyotes. The 6-3″ pivot notched 35 points in 70 games while averaging 15 minutes a game.

Teams looking for a third or fourth line center that can be tough in the defensive zone should look at Carl. Any team looking for center depth should invite him to camp on a PTO.

That’s unless he opts to play in Europe first.

Brian Boyle, C (35 years-old)

Rangers PTO candidates
Brian Boyle, NYR

In 39 games for the Panthers last season he scored six goals and 15 points. Boyle would also be a vocal leader in the locker-room and help any 4th line and PK.

Ben Hutton, D (27 years old)

Any team looking for an option on the left side of the defense may want to start here. Young Ben Hutton could be the answer, at least on a tryout basis for a needy team. He notched 16 points in 65 games for the L.A. Kings last year but is now a UFA.

I suspect someone will lock up Hutton on a deal soon. However, if he is still around in January why not bring him in. Latest rumors suggests the Edmonton Oilers want to bring him on after losing Oscar Klefbom to injury.

Devin Shore, C (26 years-old)

new york rangers rumors
Devin Shore (Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch)

The 6’1″ center showed some promise early in his career with the Dallas Stars. In his first two full seasons he scored 33 and 32 points respectively. Since then he has bounced from Anaheim to Columbus and now to UFA.

This 2nd round pick, 61st overall could be someone to give a look at training camp for the 4th line. Certainly a good taxi squad pivot.