New York Rangers training camp is expected to open within the next six weeks. While there’s still plenty of time for Chris Drury to make some roster changes via trade, he could also consider some free agents to offer a professional tryout (PTO).
What is a PTO? It’s basically a contract that teams can offer unsigned free agents in order to invite them to training camp. This will give the club a closer look at a potential free agent they may want to sign.
The Blueshirts last did this with Micheal Haley back in 2019. After attending camp he played in 5 exhibition games leading to a contract for that season.
Here’s a look aT three possible candidate for a PTO from the Rangers.
NYR PTO candidate: James Neal
The 33 year-old LW is a big boy at 6-3 and 212 lbs. He was bought out by the Edmonton Oilers this summer and has not drawn much interest to date. Last season he had just five goals and five assists (10 points) in 29 games.
Neal was once considered one of the better forwards in the game. During a 7 season stretch from 2012 to 2018 he averaged 27 goals per season. His career totals include 294 goals and 261 assists (555 points) in 850 games played.
It should also be noted that in 2017-18, Neal played for the Vegas Golden Knights team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, the same team that Gerard Gallant coached. The Rangers may very well consider giving Neal a PTO as some insurance just in case Sammy Blais, Morgan Barron, or Dryden Hunt fail to impress at camp.
Eric Staal, a winning veteran
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 as his leadership and experience could help a young Rangers team.
The Habs hoped that a change of scenery would reignite his career, but he only managed 3 points in 21 contests. He followed that up with 3 more points in 21 playoff games. Staal being given a PTO is not a terrible idea as his recent run to the Cup could help mentor the young Blueshirts in the locker room along with Barclay Goodrow.
Staal is also a center and having extra depth down the middle never hurts.
Jordie Benn, a little more LD insurance
The Rangers are pretty set on defense after signing Patrik Nemeth and Jarred Tinordi. However; if they wanted a little more insurance that they made the right move in inking Tinordi they could give Jordie Benn a PTO.
At 34 years of age, Benn’s best days are behind him. He could still be valuable as a 7th defenseman. His 6-2, 200 lbs frame allows him to play a physical brand of hockey when called upon. Benn is a defensive rearguard that doesn’t take a lot a penalties.
Ultimately, the Blueshirts are unlikely to offer anyone a PTO. These three candidates are just worthy to consider.
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