34 year old Steve Valiquette is attempting to prolong his pro hockey career with a professional try-out (PTO) with the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Valiquette played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1994-95 to 1997-98 and last played with CSKA Moscow of Russia’s KHL in 2010-11.
Steve played his first three and a half seasons in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves. He was traded to the Erie Otters during the 1997-98 season and finished out his OHL career there. In 1996-97, Valiquette played 61 of Sudbury’s 66 games with the team finishing last in the Central Division and out of the Robertson Cup playoffs. With Erie, he played all seven games of their opening round series against the London Knights in his final season. Steve posted an impressive 1.93 GAA with one shutout in a losing cause.
Valiquette was an eighth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, 190th overall. Steve never played for the Kings but has played a backup role with the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. With the Rangers affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, in 2004-05, he teamed up with Jason LaBarbera to win the Harry Holmes Trophy as the best goaltending duo on the AHL. Valiquette played 35 games and posted a 1.77 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
One of Steve’s best performances in pro hockey came in 2005-06 with the ill-fated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the then Russian Super League (RSL). Valiquette played 45 of the team’s 51 regular season games with a 1.95 GAA and .923 save percentage. Yaroslavl finished third overall in the league and lost in the semi-finals. Despite the numbers, the top goaltender award went to another Ontario Hockey League grad. Fred Brathwaite had a higher GAA, lower save percentage and played less games, yet the goalie who played for the Oshawa Generals, London Knights and Detroit Junior Red Wings between 1989-90 and 1992-93, took the prize as a member of Ak Bars Kazan.
This past season, Valiquette played in the KHL for CSKA Moscow. CSKA was dismal, finishing 19th overall in the 23 team league and out of the post season. Steve still recorded decent numbers, playing in 35 games with a 2.94 GAA and .897 save percentage.
Bridgeport hopes to find a spot for their original goaltender. Steve played with the Sound Tigers in their first two years of existence, 2001-02 and 2002-03. Bridgeport is the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders and currently sits tenth in the fifteen team Eastern Conference.