NHL Rumors: Top 20 UFA candidates for a training camp PTO

In today’s NHL Rumors, we start to take a closer look at some potential PTO (Professional Tryout) candidates teams may consider inviting to their training camps come September.

Let’s first start with explaining what is a PTO. It’s a contract that teams can offer unsigned free agents in order to participate at training camp. This gives them a closer look at a potential free agent they may want to sign.

Updated: August 11

NHL Rumors: Top UFA candidates

nhl recaps new jersey devils
Nov 21, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Tomas Tatar (90) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest unsigned free agent available is Patrick Kane, who is recovering from offseason hip surgery and will not be ready until December or January to return. Even if he was healthy, the 34 year-old future hall-of-fame player doesn’t fit the bill for a PTO.

Usually, PTO’s are for depth players and stars that are past their prime. However, this season we see several young players not given their qualifying offers on this list. Here are the top 20 candidates this offseason sorted by age.

Jaroslav Halák38G$1,500,000 
Paul Stastny37F$1,500,000 
Phil Kessel35F$1,500,000 
Wayne Simmonds34D$900,000 
Josh Bailey33F$5,000,000 
Martin Jones (signed with Leafs)33G$2,000,000 
Tomas Tatar32F$4,500,000 
Zack Kassian32F$3,200,000 
Austin Watson31F$1,500,000 
Nathan Beaulieu30D$850,000 
Adam Erne28F$2,100,000 
Tyler Motte28F$1,350,000 
Pius Suter (signed with Canucks)27F$3,250,000 
Nick Ritchie27F$2,500,000 
Anders Bjork26F$1,600,000 
Caleb Jones (signed with Hurricanes)26D$1,350,000 
Ethan Bear26D$2,200,000 
Colin White26F$1,200,000 
Maxime Comtois24F$2,037,500 
Cal Foote24D$850,000 
Salary Data via CapFriendly

A PTO Deep Dive

Immediately, several youngsters on that list stand out for teams looking to take a chance on a player with upside. Anyone looking to rebuild or improve their blue-line could take a long look at Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear. Up front, Maxime Comtois may be worth the risk as well.

A deeper dive into the more traditional names on this list includes two goalies that are sure to be playing next season in Jaroslav Halak and Martin Jones. As far as veterans that most certainly could help a contender’s bottom-six forward group on low-cost one-year deals are Phil Kessel, Wayne Simmonds, and Paul Stastny.

There are also three names I think could be signed to a standard contract before training camps open. Tomas Tatar, Josh Bailey, and Tyler Motte would be excellent additions for any team.

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