A professional tryout contract, or PTO, is a short-term agreement between a hockey player and a team in the American Hockey League (AHL) or National Hockey League (NHL). This type of contract allows a player to try out for a team, with the possibility of being signed to a longer-term contract if they perform well.

Players who sign a PTO are typically those who were not drafted by NHL teams or who have been released from their previous contracts. They may be young players who have yet to make their mark in professional hockey or veterans looking for another shot at the big time.

The terms of a PTO can vary depending on the team and the individual player. In general, a PTO contract lasts for a set period of time, often ranging from a few days to a few weeks. During that time, the player will participate in team practices and preseason games, giving the coaching staff a chance to evaluate their skills and potential fit with the team.

If a player impresses during their tryout, they may be offered a standard player contract (SPC) which is a more long-term deal. However, there is no guarantee that a player will be offered an SPC, even if they perform well during their PTO. Alternatively, the team may choose to sign the player to an AHL-only contract, meaning they will only play for the team`s AHL affiliate.

While a PTO is a chance for a player to prove themselves and potentially earn a more permanent spot, it also comes with its own risks. Since the contract is short-term, the player may only have a limited window of opportunity to impress the coaching staff. Additionally, since they are not yet under contract, the player is not entitled to the same benefits and protections as a standard player.

In conclusion, a professional tryout contract is a short-term agreement that allows a hockey player to try out for a team with the possibility of earning a longer-term contract. While the terms can vary, a PTO is often used by young or veteran players looking for a chance to prove themselves and earn a spot on a team. However, it also comes with its own risks, and there is no guarantee of a more permanent contract.