The Oklahoma City Barons signed Jonathan Cheechoo to a professional tryout contract on Sunday, adding yet another NHL veteran to the AHL’s ranks. Similar to the Grand Rapids Griffins’ signing of Mike Knuble earlier this week, the tryout gives Cheechoo a chance to play for the Barons while trying to catch the eye of an NHL team.
Cheechoo spent last season with the Peoria Rivermen, where he led the team in goals with 25 and was second on the team with 56 points. His last NHL time came during the 2009-10 season with the Ottawa Senators (five goals, 14 points in 61 games). The skill he showed last season may be enough to catch the eye of an NHL team, but it’s a long way from showing he is still capable of being the same 90-point scorer he once was. Cheechoo’s 2005-06 season saw him score 56 goals for the San Jose Sharks, winning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. He still managed 37 goals and 69 points the following season, but declined in production every season that followed. In just over 500 career NHL games Cheechoo has scored 170 goals; he has also scored over 100 goals in the AHL while appearing for five different teams.
The Barons are in need of a veteran presence as well, after seeing Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins head back to the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. After a hot start, they now find themselves fourth in the South Division with 43 points. Their next game is Wednesday against the Griffins – a game that could now be the AHL season debuts for both Cheechoo and Knuble.