Two 34-year-old forwards are trying to prove they can still play in the NHL at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp.
Brandon Sutter and Sam Gagner were both signed to professional tryout contracts on Aug. 28.
“I guess you never think you’re going to be in this situation when you’re used to having a contract every year,” said Sutter, who joked that it was just like peewee tryouts.
Sutter has missed the last two seasons because of long COVID.
“The last probably six-to-eight months was when I started noticing a difference. I started feeling like myself again. I got my breath back. I had horrible shortness of breath for two years,” explained Sutter.
“He did well on physical conditioning. He looked good in the skates,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “He’s in a legit area to make our team, right there in the mix.”
Gagner had surgery on both hips in the off-season.
“I had the one surgery, then five weeks later I had the other. I was essentially on crutches for two months,” explained Gagner. “I’m five months into a six-month rehab process.”
“We’re taking our time with him,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “He looked good. There were some things we held him back from.”
Gagner isn’t expected to play in the pre-season. He’s going after his third stint with the Oilers.
“I’m excited to be back. It’s a place that feels like home to me. I’ve had a lot of fun being an Oiler,” said Gagner.
Ryan McLeod didn’t skate Thursday with what Woodcroft called “a soft tissue tweak.”