This afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that they had offered Michael Nylander to a Professional Tryout Contract (PTO). Which, basically means, he’s invited to Flyers training camp for a chance to win a job with the club. Some fans disagreed with the move, calling it a waste of time. They explained that Nylander has virtually no chance to make this team as is, and he is coming off of a serious spinal injury that sidelined him for most of last season. Dissenters also mentioned that a contracted player would have to be moved to fit under the 50 contract limit if Nylander gets a contract after training camp.
Since 2008, the Flyers have invited Bryan Berard, Blair Betts, Mark Bell, Bill Guerin and now Nylander to camp on PTOs. However, of the four who have been through camp, only Betts made the team. The year before his tryout with the Flyers, Berard was invited to training camp by Islanders and earned a one year contract by New York.
So the question remains, are PTOs just a waste of time?
For players, it gives them another shot at making an NHL club. Most are guys looking to stay in the NHL after being passed up in free agency. Some, like Guerin, are looking to get one last shot before calling it a career. Preseason can give them a chance to showcase their talents to teams in case they don’t make the team they are trying out for.
What does it mean for teams inviting these players to camp? It’s a low risk move for them. Best case scenario, a player shines in camp and wins a job, giving the team more depth. Worst case scenario, the player doesn’t make the team and the team doesn’t change. Bringing a veteran in can also help younger players in two ways. Firstly, it can give them someone to learn from and get advice. It can also push a young borderline player, giving him competition for a job in the NHL.
As for the Flyers’ move today? It gives newcomer Jaromir Jagr a familiar face in the locker room during training camp. Jagr and Nylander played together with Washington (2002-03) and the Rangers (2005-07). During their time with the Rangers, mainly playing together, Jagr had 84 goals and 219 points. Nylander tallied 49 goals and 162 points. Are the Flyers expecting those results? Absolutely not, but it may make Jagr’s transition back to the NHL a little easier.
Will Nylander actually make the Flyers? It’s tough to say now, but probably not. But with a strong preseason, who knows?