Jeff O'Neill is coming back to Raleigh.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday that the former Canes forward, who did not play in the NHL last season, has been invited to the team's preseason camp next month. O'Neill, 32, has not signed a free-agent contract.
"In training camp, the door is open for players to make the team," Rutherford said. "That's the opportunity we'll give him. He said he plans to come in early and work out with the guys. He has the right mindset.
"We have talked about a contract, but it makes sense for him to come to training camp for the tryout and then us talk about a contract."
O'Neill was the first-round pick of the Hartford Whalers in the 1994 NHL draft — and Rutherford's first pick as GM of the team.
O'Neill ranks third in franchise history in points (416), fourth in games played (673) and goals (198) and fifth in assists (218).
His 41-goal season in 2000-01 has only been exceeded once since, by Eric Staal in 2005-06.
Carolina traded him to Toronto in August 2005, a few months after O'Neill's brother, Donny, died in a car accident. O'Neill seriously considered retiring at the time.
After scoring 19 and 20 goals for the Maple Leafs, he did retire.
"Jeff took a year off," Rutherford said. "When a player takes a year off, you need to see how he recovers. We'll see how he does at camp."
Rutherford said it's possible O'Neill could have a good camp, sign a contract, then play in Albany (AHL) for a few games.
"Get his timing back, work on his conditioning," he said.
And if that works out?
"Jeff's been a good player over the course of his career," Rutherford said.