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Forwards James Sheppard & Antti Pihlstrom to attend training camp on PTO basis

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are bringing a pair of veteran forwards to training camp.

James Sheppard and Antti Pihlstrom were signed to professional tryout (PTO) agreements this week, accompanied by invitations to training camp. The PTO is a non-binding agreement, which means the players are free to leave at any point during camp to pursue other options.

While PTOs are hardly a guarantee of a full-time spot, both players are coming to Blue Jackets camp with something to prove.

Sheppard, 27, was a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) of the Minnesota Wild in 2007 and played 78 games during his rookie season. Sheppard was eventually traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2011, but due to a leg injury, appeared in only four games for the Sharks' AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass.

A deadline acquisition by the New York Rangers this past season, Sheppard saw fourth-line duty down the stretch and into the playoffs. Currently an unrestricted free agent, Sheppard comes to camp with the Blue Jackets looking to earn a contract.

Pihlstrom, 30, has spent the past four seasons with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa where he's carved out a solid career. The Vantaa, Finland native had only a cup of coffee in North America with the Nashville Predators, who signed him to a two-year deal in the summer of 2007.

Pihlstrom saw the majority of action with Nashville's AHL club in Milwaukee (he dressed for one NHL game) before returning to Europe two years later. He also represented Finland at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Blue Jackets are scheduled to open training camp on Friday, Sept. 18 at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

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