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Preseason hockey begins in less than two weeks and, as always, there are a lot of fringe NHL players without contracts.
This, of course, means many are accepting camp invites in order to try and earn a job for the upcoming season. So far the Calgary Flames have extended PTOs to five players (four forwards, one defenseman).
Let's take a closer look at each one.
LW/RW - Tobias Rieder
Rieder had a really tough season with the Edmonton Oilers. The 26-year-old, who entered 2018-19 having averaged 32 points per 82 games over three seasons prior, mustered up just 11 points, zero(!) of which were goals. Yes, you read that correctly. Zero goals in 67 games. Zero goals on 92 shots. Zero goals on 42 high-danger chances. His on-ice numbers were bad as well.
A little known fact: Rieder was actually the reason the 79 point Edmonton Oilers missed the playoffs!
On a serious note, he dealt with the worst luck imaginable. He is usually a pretty good bottom-6 point producer. He can also really skate and has experience killing penalties. The Flames were interested in him a year ago so it's hardly surprising they're giving him a look in camp.
RW - Devante Smith-Pelly
I don't see Smith-Pelly as someone who can help the Flames. He has averaged 14.8 points per 82 games over the last three seasons and he's extremely inefficient at 5v5. You're not getting production from him. What you're getting is a big time anchor. Last season he posted a -9.5 CF% Rel, -10.27 xGF% Rel, and -24.11 GF% Rel at 5v5.
In other words, the Capitals controlled a significantly smaller portion of the attempts, expected goals, and actual goals with Smith-Pelly on the ice. Does he play with some bite? Sure, but so does Sam Bennett. So does Milan Lucic. So does Matthew Tkachuk. There's not a need for it.
LW - Zac Rinaldo
Rinaldo has averaged fewer than nine points per 82 games throughout his career and his underlying numbers have always been absolutely horrendous. He draws a lot of penalties but takes just about as many. I don't think he has a place in today's NHL; especially not on a team that wants to contend for a Stanley Cup. I'm guessing he'll be cut fairly early.
RW - Alex Grenier
Grenier is a 28-year-old journeymen who put up just 27 points in 68 AHL games last season, good for 8th on Laval in scoring. I very much doubt he'll seriously contend for a spot on the Flames. Perhaps he could earn himself a job in Stockton, though.
LD - Andrew MacDonald
MacDonald is probably the most likely of the bunch to earn a roster spot. GM Brad Treliving made it no secret he'd like to add another veteran, left-handed defender to the mix. MacDonald is just that. He was significantly overpaid during his tenure in Philadelphia, and understandably took a lot of heat for not living up to the deal, but he wasn't a disaster this past season. The Flyers actually posted a slightly better CF% with MacDonald on the ice and his xGF% was in line with the team's average. Would I prefer Oliver Kylington in the LD3 spot? Absolutely. He might be better already and there is still a lot of room for growth. Would it be the end of the world if MacDonald holds his own in preseason and signs a cheap, one-year deal to be the 6th or 7th defenseman? I don't think so.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com
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