Yesterday we debuted a new feature called Team to Watch. Well, another day and another new segment that will be repeated periodically during training camp, On the Radar. Basically, this will be a way to profile some of the guys who are fighting for roster spots during training camp (without a full-fledged story in the paper). First up is defenseman Tyler Sloan.
Tyler Sloan, D
Acquired: Undrafted free agent
2008-09: One goal, five points in 29 games for the Caps. Two goals, 12 points in 46 games for the Bears.
Sloan didn’t come out of nowhere to forge a chance in the NHL with Washington, but it was pretty close. Hershey needed a body during the 2005-06 playoff run, so Sloan got a call while on a golf course in Las Vegas (he had spent of that season playing there in the ECHL).
He turned an AHL contract into an NHL contract and then he played more games for the Caps last year than anyone who started the year in Hershey (counting playoff games, he edged out Karl Alzner, 31-30). So what does he do for an encore?
“I think there is probably a little bit more expectation,” Sloan said. “Last year there was no pressure, right? I don’t think I was expected to [play some much in the NHL]. I thought maybe I would get a couple of games, maybe later in the year. There is a little more expectation of me now, especially with the contract. I think it is good. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Yes, that new contract does change things. He was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Caps gave him a one-year, one-way contract. If he doesn’t make the Caps roster out of camp, he has to pass through waivers (and his play last year could tempt someone to put in a claim). If he does make it through waivers, he’ll be making the full daily portion of his $640,000 with the Bears.
What does Sloan need to do to earn a spot with the Caps?
“Just play it simple — nothing flashy. I am not a flashy player,” he said. “Play my game, be responsible defensively and make a good first pass. Maybe play with an edge, be a little more physical — maybe be more of a prick out there and be more physical. We might need a little bit of that, so that might give me a better chance.”
Not only is Sloan not a flashy player on the ice, he has stayed pretty grounded away from the rink despite possibly being on the cusp of being a consistent NHL player.
“You know what — I haven’t done anything,” he said when asked if he’d made any new purchases. “Everyone asks me, ‘Are you going to get a new car, new wheels? I’m not. I’m just going to keep my truck. Maybe I’ll save some money to buy a house in Calgary in a couple of years.”
As Bruce Boudreau pointed out yesterday, if the seven veterans play well enough there may not be room for any new faces on the blue line. If one falters or gets injured, it might seem like Karl Alzner or John Carlson should be the first choice, but they don’t have to pass through waivers and both would cost more than Sloan or Sean Collins.
This is certainly the first NHL training camp Sloan has taken part of where he has a legitimate chance to make the team, and it may not be his last.