Bruins Have 3 Good PTO Candidates to Consider

As we get closer to training camp, teams around the league are signing free agents to professional tryout (PTO) contracts. With the Boston Bruins dealing with a variety of injuries, they should consider inviting some players to camp because it will give them more potential options to start the season.

Although the Bruins are over the salary cap, players like Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk will be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) to start the season. This, in turn, means that they will not count against the cap, so they will have money to work with until they are back. Therefore, if general manager Don Sweeney wanted to add some depth pieces for insurance before the year begins, he could do just that. It just means that he would have to move out more salary once everyone is healthy. Let’s take a look at three PTO candidates who he should consider pursuing.

Sonny Milano

As we get closer to October, Sonny Milano is one of the top unrestricted free agents (UFA) without a contract. With this being so, I wonder if the 26-year-old winger would be open to the prospect of signing a PTO? If he were to, Sweeney would be smart to consider seeing what the Massapequa native can do at training camp. The Bruins could use a boost with their secondary scoring, and this is especially true with Marchand being out of the lineup for the beginning portion of the season.

Sonny Milano Anaheim Ducks
Sonny Milano, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Anaheim Ducks shockingly did not send Milano a qualifying offer this offseason even after he had a career year. In 66 games in 2021-22, he scored 14 goals and set a new career-high with 34 points. With numbers like these, it’s clear that he would provide the Bruins with a notable upgrade at left wing. He is a more suitable option to play third-line minutes over Trent Frederic, as he provides noticeably better offense.

If Milano were to impress at camp and earn himself a contract with the Bruins, he would fit under the cap when players like Marchand, McAvoy, and Grzelcyk are on LTIR. Once they come back, Boston will have to move out salary, and players like Craig Smith and Mike Reilly have come up as possible trade candidates. Yet, if they were to sign Milano, that would force Sweeney to trade a second player once the team is fully healthy. Perhaps Frederic could be the guy traded in this situation if Milano agrees to an identical contract as him ($1.05 million cap hit).

Anton Stralman

It has already been established that McAvoy and Grzelcyk will be missing the beginning of the season. That is already scary to think about, but it’s also important to note that Reilly had offseason surgery, while Jakub Zboril is coming back from a season-ending torn ACL injury. The Bruins’ defensive group is already looking weak enough to start the season, but if these two suffer any setbacks, the blue line will look even thinner. As a result, Sweeney would be wise to bring in a defenseman on a PTO, and Anton Stralman is an intriguing option.

Related: Bruins: 3 Players With Most to Prove in 2022-23

Surprisingly, Stralman has yet to get signed this offseason. The 36-year-old was a rare bright spot on the Arizona Coyotes last season and was praised for his excellent leadership. In 74 games in the desert, the veteran scored eight goals and recorded 23 points. Adding that kind of production to the Bruins’ blue line would be beneficial, so perhaps there could be a match here.

Truthfully, Stralman would be an upgrade over Connor Clifton on the bottom pair once the team is fully healthy, too. Thus, if he were to impress at camp and sign an identical deal to Clifton ($1 million cap hit), the Bruins could trade the latter to become cap compliant once everyone is back. They of course would also need to trade one of Smith or Reilly, but that’s expected to happen regardless.

Keith Yandle

Throughout Keith Yandle’s NHL career, many wondered if the 36-year-old would eventually join the Bruins. This is understandable, as the veteran defenseman is a Massachusetts native. At this juncture of the offseason, he has not decided on his playing future, but his agent Jerry Buckley told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski that Yandle is looking for “the right fit” and not “just an open job.” Due to this, perhaps he would be open to trying out for his hometown team.

Keith Yandle Philadelphia Flyers
Keith Yandle, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After the season Yandle just had, it would be understandable if Bruins fans feel hesitant about the idea of signing him to a PTO. In 77 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, he had one goal, 18 assists, and a league-worst minus-47 rating. From an offensive standpoint, he still produced, but he struggled immensely when it came to his defensive play. However, with the Bruins dealing with several injuries to their blue line, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to see what he can do at training camp.

Out of the three players on this list, Yandle is most likely to be open to signing a league-minimum contract. This would be easy for the Bruins to handle, so why shouldn’t they send the veteran a tryout? At worst, he simply wouldn’t make the team and they would be able to release him without any cap penalties.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that Sweeney has some pretty interesting PTO candidates worth considering before training camp officially begins. With the Bruins dealing with injury trouble, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to invite extra players to camp. Let’s see if any of these three get a call from Boston to do just that.

Sign up for our regular 'Bruins Newsletter' for all the latest.