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Oilers Likely to Invite PTOs to Training Camp: Some Candidates

The Edmonton Oilers might take advantage of some players having not signed NHL deals yet and invite a couple of veterans to camp on a PTO.

The Edmonton Oilers have gone the professional tryout route before and signed a few contracts as a result. With so many skilled players still on the free agent market and more talent than their are jobs, this might be the season to use the PTO contract route again.

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Considering GM Ken Holland made so many astute signings with so little cap space this offseason, no one should be surprised to hear he’s looking for other cost-effective ways to find good roster players. As per a report by Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal, the Oilers have potentially keyed in on the option to invite players to camp as an inexpensive way to recruit more talent without attaching a commitment.

But, this isn’t just to see what other players are out there. After learning that some of their overseas prospects might not be ready thanks to injuries or virus-related postponements, this is another way to ensure Holland has a lot of options. McCurdy writes:

A final comment that this observer fully expects the Oilers to bring in at least one veteran NHL d-man on a Professional Tryout (PTO) once camp is finalized. As we saw with Jason Garrison in 2018-19, it is possible for such an invitee to earn a contract and a depth role with the team.

McCurdy called it a fallback plan for the Oilers general manager as the hope is players like William Lagesson, Theodor Lennstrom or even Evan Bouchard will beat out these veterans for a job and earn their spot on the team.

Drake Caggiula Edmonton Oilers
Drake Caggiula Edmonton Oilers

Who Will the Oilers Invite?

We’ll take it one step further than McCurdy and suggest the Oilers might do more than just invite a defenseman. This is a realistic option to create competition for jobs at all positions. As such, we’ll throw a few forwards in the mix as well.

There are a few free agents holding out for deals so don’t expect players like Erik Haula or Mike Hoffman to be on this list. It’s probably not even all that likely someone like Anthony Duclair or Carl Soderberg gets invited because they should land somewhere else first. What the Oilers will have access to are players who are more likely to not land a deal because of the tight salary cap. This could include former Oilers center Riley Sheahan and winger Drake Caggiula or even a player like Corey Perry if he fails to land a contract. The focus will be on penalty killers, grit or leadership.

But, if we focus on defense, the Oilers will likely want to explore creating competition for jobs on the blue line, especially for the young talent being asked to take the next step. That means veterans like Karl Alzner or Michael Del Zotto could get a look.

Remember, this isn’t necessarily about inviting players to “make the team”; although it would be nice if they had a shot. This is about forcing guys internally to win jobs and make the team because they’ve earned it, while giving veterans who are hoping to land employment a fair look.

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