A couple days ago the Oilers announced that they had come to an agreement with Alex Chiasson to a PTO.
A PTO, or professional tryout is when an organization extends an invite to a player prior to or during training camp. There are no contractual obligations as far as pay for these players and they cannot play any actual regular season games until they sign a real contract.
I'm explaining PTO's my readers who may not know what it is because the word has popped up plenty of times over the summer in regards to the Oilers. Here are the players currently coming into camp on a PTO. Chiasson joins forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Jason Garrison as players who were have been offered PTO's.
Add to this mix the signing of Jakub Jerabek and Chiarelli has made a number of potential value depth additions that will compete for roster spots. I do not expect every single one of these players to make the roster; Garrison in particular I believe will be hard pressed to have an impact. Overall PTO's are a good way to encourage competition and potentially find a value diamond in the rough.
There are some issues to point out here though.
Adding three different PTO's within such a short period of time seems odd. Typically teams might offer one or maybe two PTO's. I cannot recall the last time a team extended three PTO's. There are a few theories and rumours as to why these players have been brought in. Time to put on our tinfoil hats and brainstorm this reasoning.
First off the Darnell Nurse contract negotiations clearly are not going well. Training camp is about to begin and Nurse remains unsigned. If the next few days of training camp continue with Nurse unsigned we will surely start to hear trade rumors.
By no means am I suggesting Jerabek and Garrison could replace Sekera and Nurse (I really hope not) but the two may be insurance and a bandaid fix if a trade is to happen in the next couple weeks.
The Upshall and Chiasson invites most likely have the likes of Aberg and Zack Kassian sweating bullets. One has to imagine if one or both of Upshall and Chiasson make the team they will be paid around the league minimum. Meanwhile Zack Kassian makes almost 2 million a season. The Oilers are tight against the cap and rightly should be looking for savings where they can.
The other very plausible option is much simpler. The Oilers are struggling to find players who can fit in with their top end players. Chiarelli traded Eberle partly because of cap space but also because he was banking that one of Strome, Puljujarvi or someone else would be able to fit in with the top two lines. That hasn’t happened.
I will not be surprised to see a plethora of line combinations through training camp and the pre-season. We could see Chiasson get time with Draisaitl or maybe Kassian gets a go. Plenty of stories to follow over the coming weeks.