NHL Roundup: Wayne Gretzky NFT; jersey ads; and top PTO candidates

Wayne Gretzky NFT
Gretzky (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

Yesterday, Wayne Gretzky released his first ever set of Digital Cards in conjunction with Upper Deck and Autograph.io.

What do you get? Your own digital piece of history. Each Gretzky NFT will feature his photo and a digital autograph.

Gretzky NFT on sale now

“I’m thrilled to get into the NFT space with Autograph and expand into Canada, having fans engage with great moments from my hockey career in new, revolutionary ways,” hockey all-time leading scorer said in a statement. “I’ve been committed to sharing and developing the game further for all hockey fans, and I’m proud to work and advise with Autograph, making the space more accessible and streamlined for new and longtime collectors.”

There are different levels that can be purchased and since its release many have sold out. The lowest priced NFT for $12 went quickly as 5000 collector’s swooped into to purchase the Wayne Gretzky Carbon Premier NFT.

You can purchase your Gretzky NFT at the DraftKings Marketplace.

Wayne Gretzky NFT
Wayne Gretzky NFT (Autograph.io)

NHL approves ads on jerseys

Some big news for fans who love to buy authentic and pro jerseys. The NHL has approved placing an ad on the front of your favorite teams sweater for the 2022-23 season.

A memo distributed to all 32 teams this week. The clubs may begin negotiating potential ad deals, per the report.

The ads will be slightly bigger than the patches adorned by NBA players. The ad must fit inside a 3-by-3 1/2 inch rectangle.

To help stem revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL authorized the sale of ads on player helmets for the 2020-21 season, and commissioner Gary Bettman told Sports Business Journal in March that the teams made more than $100 million as a result. That program will return in the upcoming season.

The NBA began jersey ads in the 2017-18 season and teams take in approximately $150 million combined each year, per Sportico.

Top candidates for an NHL PTO

The free agent season kicked off on July 28th. Within days many of the best UFA’s came off the board. What remains are mostly veterans and reclamation projects that shrewd GMs may want to add at bargain prices.

As we continue to get deeper into August, the players remaining become more likely to sign 1 year deals or become candidates for a PTO (professional tryout). Here’s the top players that should get one.

James Neal (F): The 33 year-old had just five goals and five assists (10 points) in 29 games during his season with the Oilers. Overall, he has 294 goals and 261 assists (555 points) in 13 NHL seasons. To date there’s been little interest from teams in adding him. He is a prime candidate for a PTO.

Sami Vatanen (D): I am always shocked that a solid right-handed defender like Vatanen continues to be available. He certainly doesn’t put up the offensive numbers as he used to, but he can still help a defense out. He’s only 30 years-old so he should at least get a PTO. The Oilers are rumored to possibly give him one.

Jason Demers (D): He’s a right-handed defenseman that can still play third pair minutes. In 41 games, the 33 year-old veteran picked up just 4 helpers for the Coyotes. He’s a prime candidate for an invite to a training camp on a PTO.

Nikita Kusev (F): At 29 years of age, Kusev is already a reclamation project. Highly touted coming out of the KHL, the disappointed Devils terminated his contract. The Panthers signed him mid season, where he finished with 10 points in 31 games split between the two clubs. He could be worth a cheap flyer or at least an invite to camp on a PTO.

Eric Staal (C): Last season, the 36 year-old pivot split time between the Sabres and Canadiens but only managed a career low 13 points in 53 games. To make matters worse, he set a career high with a -30 plus/minus rating. Of course, Staal could bring value to a team’s fourth line next season at a bargain price. His leadership and experience would be worth a PTO.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report