One of the reasons NHL teams sign veteran players to Professional Tryout Offers (PTOs) is to give an unsigned free agent a chance to make the team, but this is not the only reason. For Mike Gillis, it’s likely not even the primary reason. Coming off the shortest off-season in team history, Gillis and Vigneault clearly had no interest in icing a lineup in either Calgary or Vancouver last night that bore any resemblance to the actual Canucks.
The only players on the ice in either game that saw action in the playoffs were Cory Schneider, Keith Ballard, Chris Tanev, Cody Hodgson, Victor Oreskovich, Aaron Rome, Andrew Alberts, and Maxim Lapierre. Heck, Lapierre was only in the lineup because Stefan Schneider broke his hand.
But if Gillis wanted to keep his veterans off the ice, why not just keep around more of the players from the Young Stars tournament? Why so many tryout contracts? Because NHL teams must dress a minimum number of NHL “veterans” in the pre-season. From the CBA:
15.3 (d) A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of eight (8) veterans for any Exhibition Game. For purposes of this Section, a veteran shall constitute either: (1) a forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season, (2) a goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season, (3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year’s Entry Draft or(4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games.
The minimum number allowed is eight. Suddenly the tryout offers for Anders Eriksson (572 NHL games played), Niko Dimitrakos (158 NHL games played), Manny Legace (365 NHL games played), and Todd Fedoruk (545 NHL games played) make a lot more sense. Sure, tryout players Steve Begin and Owen Nolan do have an outside shot at cracking the Canucks lineup in a bottom-six role, but they also provide the team with the requisite number of veterans for these preseason games.
In Vancouver, the Canucks actually had 10 players who qualify as veterans: Ryan Parent, Keith Ballard, Marco Sturm, Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Rome, Maxim Lapierre, Cory Schneider, Nolan, Tanev, and even Nicklas Jensen, who qualifies by virtue of being the Canucks’ 2011 first-round draft choice. That group of veterans almost looks legitimate, with only one player on a tryout deal.
Where it really comes into focus is when you look at the lineup that played in Calgary. The veterans in that lineup were Andrew Alberts, Victor Oreskovich, Alexander Sulzer, Anders Eriksson, Steve Begin, Manny Legace, Niko Dimitrakos, and Todd Fedoruk. Five of the eight veterans in the lineup were on tryout deals.
By inviting so many players to training camp, Gillis and Vigneault were able to keep their veterans like Luongo, the Sedins, Burrows, and their entire top-four defence corps out of meaningless pre-season games. And Vigneault has indicated that the same will be the case on Thursday against the Oilers and that Luongo likely won’t get a start until next week.Tags: featured, It's Possible Gillis is Smarter Than Us, Mike Gillis, Owen Nolan, Preseason, PTOs, spotlight, Todd Fedoruk, tryout