Hockey September 6, 2018

Who’s heading to camp with their sights set on landing a contract? As training camp nears, we dive into the PTOs and training camp invites that have been handed out.

Training camp is slated to begin across the NHL in little more than one week’s time, and with that has come the release of several training camp rosters that gives us a window into who will be attending and attempting to earn themselves a spot on a big league roster this coming campaign.

Last season, nine players entered training camps on professional tryout deals and managed to land work. The most notable among that group includes Roman Polak (Toronto Maple Leafs), Scottie Upshall (St. Louis Blues), Daniel Winnik (Minnesota Wild) and Alex Chiasson (Washington Capitals). This season brings with it a whole new crop of players seeking homes, including three of the four aforementioned players, as Polak, who inked a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars over the summer, is the only one with a concrete contract heading into camp.

So, either by way of a PTO or training camp invite, here are the players looking to impress enough to latch on with a club before the regular season begins:

Mark Fayne, D — Across his four-year pact with the Oilers, Fayne, 31, went from middle-pairing defender to buried and loaned out in the AHL. A veteran of nearly 400 NHL games, Fayne is likely a target for a minor league contract so he can act as an injury replacement, at best.

Marcel Noebels, LW — A fourth-round pick of the Flyers in 2011, Noebels, 26, has spent the past four campaigns in the German League and had his breakout season in 2017-18 with 11 goals and 30 points in 52 games. He appeared for Germany at the Olympics and has 95 games AHL experience.

Joel Messner, D — Captained University of Nebraska-Omaha last season, putting up a career-best five goals and 23 points in 36 games. The 24-year-old is likely eying up a minor league deal.

Jeff Glass, G — Glass, 32, waited a long time to get his first taste of NHL action, but his .898 SP and 3.36 GAA in 15 appearances with the Blackhawks last season all but ensures he’s coming into camp as a depth netminder and nothing else.

Brandon Davidson, D — Davidson has potential to be Cody Franson v 2.0, which is to say a training camp invite that turns into a part-time defender for the Blackhawks. The 27-year-old skated in 51 games between the Canadiens, Oilers and Islanders last season and has some offense to his game.

Ben Gleason, D — Set to become an overager in the OHL, Gleason, 20, is getting a chance to show he can translate his offensive acumen to the higher levels. The undrafted blueliner has 22 goals and 125 points in 236 OHL contests.

Jason Garrison, D — Originally brought in by the expansion Golden Knights to be a veteran stalwart and experienced leader, Garrison, 33, wound up spending the majority of last season in the AHL. He’s a stay-at-home depth defender and, with injuries on the blueline, he could be a fit for Edmonton.

Scottie Upshall, LW — Back to life on a PTO. Upshall, 34, has gone into camp and earned himself a spot twice before with nothing more than a training camp agreement, and now he’s got a shot to do it all over again. Seven goals and 19 points in 63 games last season with the Blues.

Mark Letestu, C — A power play specialist who can bring versatility to a bottom-six. That Letestu was given a PTO so early in the summer suggests there’s serious consideration from the Panthers, but he’ll have to prove he can beat out some of the younger depth talent to earn his spot.

Emerson Etem, LW — A once-promising first-round pick, Etem, 26, hasn’t been able to catch on in the NHL. Last season was spent primarily in the AHL, but Etem departed for the Swiss League in January. He has the speed, but he needs to put together the other parts of his game.

Simon Despres, D — An incredibly intriguing PTO given Despres, 27, had plenty of promise before injuries derailed his career. He appeared in 44 games for the KHL’s Slovan Bratislava last season, scoring four goals and 11 points. On a thin blueline, Despres has potential to find a fit.

Pius Suter, C — The Swiss standout is a familiar face on the international scene and caught the eye of onlookers at the 2018 Olympics with three goals and five points in four games. He could prove to be a sneaky addition if his 16 goals and 50 points across 54 total games in the Swiss League can translate to the smaller ice.

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