Looking for depth on the forward line, the Vancouver Canucks have extended tryout offers to two unrestricted free agents.
By J.J. Adams September 13, 2016
In 2006, James Sheppard was taken ninth overall by the Minnesota Wild in the NHL Draft in at the-then GM Place.
Fast-forward 10 years, and he’s back in in the same building, this time trying to resurrect a hockey career that began with so much promise.
The Vancouver Canucks signed James Sheppard, late of the Kloten Flyers in the Swiss A-League, to a PTO (Professional Try Out) contract on Wednesday, along with fellow unrestricted free agent Tuomo Ruutu.
Sheppard, a centre, has been in Vancouver all summer skating with Canucks vets as he tried to earn an invite to training camp in Whistler. The 28-year-old Halifax native been playing with Kloten in Europe, recording 11 goals and 14 assists in 37 games. He has career NHL totals of 23 goals and 68 assists across 394 games spent with New York, San Jose and Minnesota prior to that.
“I still think I can play here (the NHL) and I want to play here and I’m going to work hard to prove that I can play here,” Sheppard told Province Canucks columnist Jeff Paterson over at Canucks Army.
“I’m kind of open-minded right now. As you get older, things become more important to you, and my goal is to play in the NHL right now. I think I have what it takes, and hopefully someone can see that.”
Ruutu, is a name that has been mentioned with several teams looking for forward depth over the off-season. The left winger had a single assist in 33 games with the Devils last season. It continued the death spiral his production has seen after signing a four-year, $19M contract with Carolina in 2011-12, as he saw his goal-scoring output drop from 18 to consecutive years of four, five, three, seven, and last year’s zero.
More to come on the story as it develops.