We’re not 100 per cent sure about this, but the 14 Newfoundland hockey players who will be attending National Hockey League and American Hockey League training camps could be an all-time high for this province.
Aside from the nine players returning to the pro ranks, there are three junior players — Clark Bishop, Cody Donaghey and Andrew Ryan — and one just-graduated junior — Marcus Power — attending NHL rookie camps.
So who is headed where?
Here’s a list of the players, followed by a more detailed rundown on each of them:
Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe New Jersey Devils
Dan Cleary Detroit Red Wings
Teddy Purcell Edmonton Oilers
Adam Pardy Winnipeg Jets
Colin Greening Ottawa Senators
Luke Adam Buffalo Sabres
James Melindy Phoenix Coyotes
Marcus Power Colorado Avalanche
Clark Bishop Carolina Hurricanes
Cody Donaghey Toronto Maple Leafs
Andrew Ryan Minnesota Wild
Zach O’Brien Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
Chris Owens St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Michael Ryder — Newfoundland’s all-time NHL point-getter with 465 over 10 seasons, Ryder is entering the final year of a two-year, $7 million deal with the Devils.
Ryder scored 18 goals last season for a New Jersey team that finished out of the playoffs. Not a bad total — he’s had 20 or more five times, and three times has netted 18 goals — but the Devils probably want more for $3.5 million as they look to get back in the playoff picture.
Chances are he will, but if Ryder fails to get another contract after this season, he’ll retire with well over $25 million in career earnings, a ring and six seasons spent with Original Six clubs (Boston and Montreal).
That’s a contract anyone would sign.
Ryane Clowe — The big question facing Clowe and the Devils is whether the rugged winger can play a full season.
A concussion all but wiped out his 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs after a trade from the San Jose Sharks to the New York Rangers, and last year — his first in a Devils’ uniform following a five-year, $24.25 million offer from New Jersey that shocked just about everyone, Clowe included — he missed 39 games because of a head injury.
When healthy, Clowe can be a dominant NHL force, a big, strong winger with a bit of finish. If he is healthy, good for Jersey. Thing is, given what we know about concussions, and the way Clowe plays the game, can he stay healthy?
Dan Cleary — Back in 2008, when the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, Cleary was one of the more popular Detroit players — a jack-of-all-trades type who could pop the odd goal, get some scattered power play minutes, be a reliable defensive player, kill penalties and take a faceoff right after Detroit scored or was scored against.
Fast forward a few years and today Cleary is getting killed on social media after the Wings signed the 35-year-old veteran to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
No doubt, it’s another sign of Detroit’s loyalty to its long-serving players. Cleary turned down a much more lucrative offer from Philadelphia last season to stay in Detroit, and this is Ken Holland’s way of saying thanks. You can be certain a job in the organization awaits Cleary when he’s done playing.
That will be at the end of this 2014-15 season, if Cleary makes it that far. He had a brutal 2013-14 season — four goals, eight points in 52 games — a year in which he tried to play with a shredded knee, was scratched and then finally shut down for the year.
Teddy Purcell — It will be a fresh, new start for Purcell, who arrives in Edmonton following a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, with whom he spent the past four seasons.
Purcell hopes to play on the Oilers’ second line this year as he looks to get to the 20-goal plateau once again.
After scoring 24 goals in 2011-12 — coming off a 19-point playoff run when the Lightning reached the NHL’s Final Four in 2011 — Purcell dipped to 11 and 12 goals.
Last season, Purcell found himself on the third line under new Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, and with a $4.5 million salary, that was too much for Tampa Bay to pay a third liner.
Adam Pardy — Pardy had other offers last month, when he became a free agent, and probably could have fetched more than the 700 grand the Winnipeg Jets are paying him this season. But Pardy felt the Jets were a safe bet.
The feeling is mutual.
The big Bonavista defenceman isn’t flashy, but he is a solid, low-maintenance blueliner, who won’t hurt you in the 15 or so minutes he plays, who will work hard and play when he’s banged up.
When it’s all said and done, Pardy will retire with 10 years and 500 games punched in the NHL.
Colin Greening — Greening’s new three-year, $8 million deal kicks in this season, and the pressure is on. One wag joked to me last winter at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre that Greening will have the dubious distinction of owning the NHL’s worst contract (from an organizational perspective).
After potting 17 goals in 2011-12, Greening has dropped to eight and six goals last year. Granted, there’s more to his game than points. A big rugged winger — kind of a poor man’s Clowe — Greening is best when he’s skating up and down his wing, working the corners and a presence in front of the net.
But he’ll need more than six goals to justify $2 million this season.
Luke Adam — A restricted free agent in July, Adam re-signed with Buffalo for one year after the Sabres qualified him.
It’s becoming increasingly evident Adam needs a fresh start in another organization. Despite producing at the American league level, Adam’s ice time in Buffalo has come in dribs and drabs after appearing in 52 NHL games in 2011-12 (10 goals, 10 assists).
However, that break could come under coach Teddy Nolan, who had the interim tag lifted from his name last spring.
James Melindy — After a rookie season spent getting his feet wet in the American league, the Goulds product should see some more ice time this season for the Portland Pirates, whose defence is coached by John Slaney.
Marcus Power — Funny how things work out. After finishing second to Anthony Mantha in QMJHL scoring last season, as an over-ager with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Power went much of the summer without any pro offers. There were a few sniffs from Buffalo and Pittsburgh, but the Sabres and Penguins ultimately decided to pass up on any undrafted free agents.
Then the Jets called, offering Power a tryout with the IceCaps. He was set to attend the St. John’s training camp, until Colorado rang this week, inviting Power to the Avalanche rookie camp. A chance at attending an NHL camp was more appealing than an AHL tryout, so Colorado it is.
No doubt, Avs assistant coach Andre Tourigny, who coached Power in Rouyn-Noranda, put in a word or two for the high-scoring forward.
Power will probably head to the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters camp after the Avalanche rookie camp. If he’s unable to crack Colorado’s AHL team lineup, he could end up with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets.
Clark Bishop — He’s over in Russia now with his junior team, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. In fact, in the past two years, Bishop’s been to Russia twice, the Czech Republic and Finland. That’s not including domestic trips to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Philadelphia and Carolina, after the Hurricanes selected him in the fifth round, 127th overall, in the draft last June.
Bishop will attend the Hurricanes’ rookie camp, and will play for Carolina’s team in the Detroit-sponsored, eight-team Traverse City, Mich. rookie tournament. From there, he could get an invite back to Carolina’s main camp, though it’s likely he’ll return to the Eagles.
Cody Donaghey — The defenceman might have been overlooked in the draft, but he hasn’t fallen off the radar entirely. He was invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp over the summer, and showed enough to be invited back to the Leafs’ rookie camp. Donaghey will play with Toronto’s entry in the four-team London, Ont., rookie tournament.
Regardless what happens at the Leafs’ practice facility in Mississauga, Ont., or in London, the 18-year-old Donaghey will be returned to his junior club, the Quebec Remparts.
And that’s fine, too. The Remparts will play host to this year’s Memorial Cup Canadian junior hockey championship.
“It’s going to be crazy,” he said. “The city is already gone crazy, and it’s, what, still nine months away.”
Andrew Ryan — Speaking of the Memorial Cup, the 2013 winner with the Nathan MacKinnon-led Halifax Mooseheads attended the Minnesota Wild’s development camp and has been invited back for the rookie camp. Like Bishop, Ryan will skate in the Traverse City rookie tournament.
Ryan registered 55 points in 56 games with the Mooseheads last season, and is set to play his overage year in Acadie-Bathurst, N.B., following a trade to the Titan.
Given his age, and depending on what he shows in camp, there is a chance Ryan could land an offer from the Wild to play in Iowa of the AHL, or Minnesota’s ECHL affiliate, the Quad City Mallards.
Zach O’Brien — After attending the IceCaps’ training camp last season as a walk-on, O’Brien was sent to the ECHL, but recalled shortly after by the Manchester Monarchs. He had 29 points in 49 AHL games with the Monarchs, good enough to land him a one-year AHL contract for 2014-15 and maybe a crack at going to the Los Angeles Kings’ main camp next month.
If not, O’Brien will head to Manchester and the Monarchs’ camp in late September.
O’Brien’s always been a little too small and a little too slow. Regardless, wherever he’s played, he’s always produced.
Chris Owens — Owens might arguably have been the best Newfoundland hockey player not playing pro last season.
From St. John’s, Owens just completed four years of university hockey with Acadia, where he made the conference all-rookie team, and was a three-time, first-team all-conference defenceman.
However, with six defencemen set to return to St. John’s — Ben Chiarot (if he doesn’t make Winnipeg), Will O’Neill, Julian Melchiori, Brenden Kichton, Jordan Hill and Kris Fredheim — along with veteran pro Julian Brouillette and maybe Latvian Ralfs Freibergs, Owens will be in tough.
If signed, he likely will start the season in Ontario, Calif., with the ECHL’s Reign.
Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor.
He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org