The Vancouver Canucks are bringing James Sheppard and Tuomo Ruutu into training camp on professional tryout contracts (PTO), the team confirmed Tuesday.
After a season where he was moved to the New York Rangers and failed to produce, Sheppard spent last season in Switzerland’s National League A (NLA) playing for the Kloten Flyers. There he played 37 games, scoring 11 goals and 25 points.
He went to Columbus Blue Jackets training camp on a PTO last season, but the trip didn’t produce a contract. Sheppard was the ninth overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft.
Last year, Ruutu had a tough season in New Jersey. He was injured early in the season and never seemed to fully bounce back. The 33-year-old former 26-goal scorer played just 33 games, scoring no goals and a single assist while averaging only 11:30 of ice time per game, the second-lowest total of his career.
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The Canucks currently have $3.478 million of remaining cap space heading into a training camp where they’ll be without their presumptive top line — Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson — because of the World Cup. It’s possible the tryouts are the result of the team looking for more veterans, with their bottom nine mostly comprised of players 23 and younger. They could also, in the case of Ruutu, be looking to bring in someone with a little more edge to their game for a depth line.
But it’s also possible the team is in need of warm bodies to fill out camp while they’re down three key players.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.