The Vancouver Canucks have a lot of forward positions up in the air this season – and two of those could be filled by players the team has extended professional tryout contracts to as training camp grows closer.
The Canucks agreed to PTOs with both Tuomo Ruutu, who most recently played with the New Jersey Devils, and Jimmy Sheppard, a former San Jose Sharks forward who skated in Switzerland last season with Kloten HC. Both former NHLers will get a chance, during training camp, to earn standard player contracts with the Pacific Division club.
Ruutu, at 33, is likely nearing the end of his pro hockey career. Initially drafted ninth overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2001, the Finnish skater spent time with the Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, and New Jersey Devils throughout his pro career, racking up 148 goals and 346 points through 735 career NHL games in the process.
Last season, though, his numbers – which once saw him put up 26 goals in a single season – took a sharp decline. Through just 33 regular season games played, Ruutu failed to record a goal and finished with just one assist.
Sheppard, like Ruutu, is a former top pick from the NHL Draft; he went ninth overall as well, heading to the Minnesota Wild in 2006.
Despite putting up strong numbers with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL during his major junior hockey career, though, the Nova Scotia native failed to stick at the NHL level for very long. He bounced around from the Wild to the San Jose Sharks, then the New York Rangers at the end of the 2014-15 season. With just 23 goals and 91 points in 394 career NHL games between the three clubs, he opted to head overseas for his last season.
Now, though, he could be back – depending on whether or not the Canucks find room for him.