Dean McAmmond, Manny Legace, Anders Eriksson, Krys Kolanos and Joel Martin have all accepted invitations to Training Camp on Professional Tryouts.
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UPDATE: Monday a.m., the Isles also announced Nebraska native and former Pred/Shark Jed Ortmeyer receives a PTO.
While the major drama of the moment is just how devastating Mark Streit's fluke shoulder injury is, I was starting to wonder when this type of announcement would be coming. We all heard about the open invites for PTOs to agents of veteran NHLers over the summer, but in the recent blogger roundtable Garth Snow explained a little more about why it's particular necessary this year. As reported by Dee (7th Woman):
"There were a few reasons why we wanted to explore inviting players to the camp," [Snow said]. Long story short: Bodies. Veteran bodies. With the split squad schedule, looking at the roster in August he wanted to be sure he had enough bodies. "You have to have eight veterans to play in a pre-season game. So to keep up with that rule, we thought that injuries that could incur during camp, we may end up being in a position where we needed to invite some veterans and we wanted to fill out our roster."
The next question, of course is: Could any of these guys amount to anything more than convenient veteran bodies?
McAmmond, despite his advancing age, is still a useful (and speedy) player. We saw a flash of that two seasons ago after the trade deadline, but he was also a nice bottom-six guy for New Jersey last year after making the team on a similar tryout. McAmmond almost seems like the victim of age bias, as players his age normally slow down but for him that decline has been at least slowed if not postponed. I wouldn't have been sad to see him re-signed last year, nor if he made the team under injury fill-in circumstances this season.
Speaking of biases, hello small goalie syndrome. More accomplished than Wade Dubilewicz but also facing a similar "Hmmm...kind of small" rap all his career, Legace has bounced to Atlanta's camp and to Carolina as an emergency Cam Ward replacement since losing his starting gig in St. Louis two seasons ago. A critical recent moment in his career came in summer 2008: Legace (and/or his agent) misread the looming goalie market correction and pushed for a longer extension in St. Louis. Being denied, his play also suffered, he went into a funk, was eventually demoted to AHL Peoria and was not re-signed by the Blues.
Legace's numbers last year with Carolina (.907 sv% in 28 games) were actually closer to his career norm -- and far better than his miserable final year with the Blues (.885). And of course, .907 is actually what veteran Dwayne Roloson ultimately put up last season, although I'd have to say I was more impressed with Roloson's play last season than I've ever been with Legace's.
UPDATE: Seems Legace -- and Martin, below -- are brought in because Nate Lawson and Kevin Poulin are nursing injuries.
Here's a guy who's been around the block a time or three. Picked up some mop-up work with the Coyotes and Rangers last season. Has some size -- 6'3", 224, left-handed shot like Streit. Depth defenseman. Open only in case of emergency (like, I don't know, if your franchise defenseman goes down with a major shoulder injury and you don't want to rush a prospect).
Add another 1st-round pick to the stable! Well, okay, Phoenix's 1st...19th overall...in 2000. He's never found a fit in the NHL with Phoenix, Edmonton or Minnesota and has spent most recent seasons in the AHL. Chances of this mattering to the big club: Minimal.
I have no idea who this guy is and won't pretend to. Obviously he's a goalie with lots of ECHL experience, so he's another body in camp. Also: The Isles' new ECHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings, currently list only one goalie on their roster. [Update: Okay, snark aside, Martin was with CHL Odessa and already slated for some time at AHL Bridgeport camp.]
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In the end, all of this is 1) with the purpose of making sure the Isles have enough veterans for each split-squad preseason game, and 2) a few potential emergency veteran fill-ins in McAmmond and Eriksson. They are not under playing contracts for this season (just PTOs). They are not by any means in the fold (yet). But as we've seen each season and in fact each training camp the last few years, the depth chart you start with in early September inevitably gets some injury holes before you've played your first meaningful game.
You may commence agonizing over the crushing cruelty of losing Mark Streit now...