Capped: PTOs Paying Off

by Chris Pudsey on December 3, 2015
  • Capped
  • Capped: PTOs Paying Off

Stempniak is one of several guys signed to PTOs who are paying dividends in cap leagues.

NHL Free Agency is commonly referred to as the “silly season” for teams to over-spend on available talent to make their rosters better. God knows as hockey fans, we are glued to our TV’s, computers, tablets or any other form of media after July 1st that keeps us up to date on every signing that happens, as soon as it happens.

For some NHL players, especially the fringe or older guys, jobs and contracts can be scarce. There are only 540 NHL skating jobs available and there’s a fine line between holding out for the right contract (be it term or dollars) and simply missing out on a job.

This year there seemed to be a larger number of PTO (professional try-out) contracts handed out than one can remember. Many simply didn’t pan out and got released. Some walked out on their contract and went to a different league and some actually managed to turn a PTO into an actual NHL contract. 

It’s the salary cap era that is causing the star players to eat up a larger piece of the pie, leaving less money for the fringe players so teams aren’t handing out the contracts like they used to. This leads to teams trying to find that bargain gem or going with their youth on cheaper contracts. Some of those “gems” will turn out to be just that, some don’t.

In this weeks Capped, we are taking a look at a few guys who managed to turn a PTO into a fulltime contract and are having success this year after doing so.

In no particular order, here are a few guys having a pretty good year considering they started it scrambling for a job.

 

Jonas Gustavsson – Boston Bruins – G, $0.7M one-year contract

player

GP

Win

L

OTL

SO

GA

SHA

GAA

SV%

GUSTAVSSON, JONAS

6

5

1

0

0

13

162

2.15

0.9198

The 31-year-old Gustavsson has been nothing short of a godsend for the Bruins this year, spelling off Tuukka Rask six times this year, winning five of them.

Considering the Bruins questionable defense this year, Gustavsson has actually put up better numbers this year compared to his career high. His save percentage is up from his career average of 0.902 and his goals-against average is down from his career average of 2.86.

Gustavsson has always been a quality goalie but injuries have hurt his value. This year in a limited role, if he can stay healthy, may have proven that he isn’t done yet in the NHL. He’s been a great find for the Bruins.

 

Lee Stempniak – New Jersey Devils – RW, $0.85M one-year contract

player

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

STEMPNIAK, LEE

24

5

13

18

0.75

4

16

55

41

1

6

0

12

02:38

47.4

32.7

19:17

31.5

The 32-year-old Stempniak’s best offensive season came in 2006/07 with the St. Louis Blues when he scored 27 goals and added 25 assists for 52 points. Right now the veteran forward is on pace for 61 points. 

The Devils were short on top-six wingers this year and Stempniak couldn’t have found a better home. Playing on a line with Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique has been a combination that just works for the Devils.

Even if he doesn’t surpass his career high in points this year, how many of you at your draft table even thought Stempniak would get close to 50 points, let alone a handful of other Devils forwards too; not me. From PTO to top six, to a career high pace in points.  Not too shabby.

 

Tomas Fleischmann – Montreal Canadiens – LW, $0.75M one-year contract

player

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

FLEISCHMANN, TOMAS

26

7

8

15

0.58

6

14

46

11

0

0

1

10

00:28

8.2

24.1

15:34

25.7

The past three seasons have not been good ones for “The Flash” and probably played a big part in him not being able to secure a regular contract during the free agent frenzy.  His injuries the past couple of seasons have slowed down his offense but this year, he’s flying high.

Skating primarily with Dale Weise and David Desharnais, they have found chemistry that most didn’t see coming. While he’s not on a career pace like Stempniak, he’s still on pace for close to 50 points; his best year since 2011/12.

His shooting percentage is up a fair amount from his career high (his shooting percentage is just over 15% right now, his career average is just a hair over 10%) and he has a high PDO right now (1029) so there’s always a chance for a bit of regression but either way, he’s been a pleasant surprise for the Habs this year.

A few others who have made an impression after finally landing a NHL contract would be guys like Scott Gomez. I like to refer to Gomez as Boomerang because just as you think he’s gone, he continues to come back again. He still finds a way to contribute (1G, 7A in 16 games) so he continues to find his way in the line up for the St. Louis Blues.

Another guy the Blues found a home for this year is Scottie Upshall. In 19 games this year he has four goals and considering he only had eight goals in 63 games last year, so far so good for the 32-year-old.

Needless to say, there were a lot more who signed their PTO’s and weren’t lucky enough to land full time NHL employment. The market is flooded with guys who simply aren’t good enough to be guaranteed much of anything. It looks like the PTO is the way teams are willing to go when it comes to rounding out their line ups to find that last missing piece and hope he turns into something more. Some of these older guys still have something in the tank and are just looking for the chance to show it.

****

Thanks for reading. If you can think of any other players who were on a PTO to start the season and turned it into something, feel free to share in the comments sections.

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