The Minnesota Wild have signed forward Ryan Carter to a professional tryout agreement (PTO), according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
Carter remains a free agent, but will attend camp on a PTO barring any unexpected contract offer from another club. The Minnesota native has spent the last two seasons playing with the Wild after they signed him while he was at New Jersey Devils training camp on a PTO.
Last season, the 33-year-old came out of the gates strong and finished the year with seven goals (tying a career-high), 12 points and an -11.69% adjusted CF%Rel while taking some brutal zone starts on the team’s fourth line.
RELATED: The Hockey Writers’ 2016 PTO Tracker
Incoming coach Bruce Boudreau has made no secret of the fact that he hopes to get some more veteran forward talent for the team’s fourth line. Carter is a logical player to slot into that space, particularly with the lack of available free agents and the club’s familiarity with his game. The concern from Boudreau surrounded having to lean too heavily on too many untested younger players, particularly on the team’s fourth line.
He also mentioned that Chris Stewart will compete to be on Mikko Koivu’s second line — which makes sense in the context of Boudreau saying he sees Koivu’s line as something akin to how he used Ryan Kesler’s line in Anaheim. If he’s not on the second line, Boudreau sees him as a wing on the fourth line.
If Stewart starts on the second line, it could open the door to someone like Kurtis Gabriel taking a spot on the fourth line, which seems to run counter to Boudreau saying he’d like to have a fourth line he can give ice time and that could produce a credible offensive threat.
There are a lot of question marks about how the Wild’s forward group shakes out — Will Tyler Graovac come into camp ready to center the fourth line? Will Alex Tuch play well enough to earn an NHL roster spot? — but it’s not out of the question that the team grabs another veteran or two on a PTO. Especially since Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter will be absent at the start of training camp because of their participation in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.