With Isles Signing Prospects Recently, Where Is Brendon Kichton?
Recently, the New York Islanders have had some good luck when it comes to their prospects. More so than the prospects themselves, in certain regards. See, as their junior or college seasons have ended without huge playoff success, their professional careers have taken off.
Player such as Anders Lee, who was not a lock to sign with the Isles, defensemen Andrey Pedan and Scott Mayfield recently signed their entry level contracts or ELCs and have joined the professional ranks; dressing for the Isles American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, except for Lee who took David Ullstrom's spot on Long Island's roster.
That's great for the Islanders, but among that silver lining there is hint of a dark cloud.
Kichton, a native of Spruce Grove, Alberta, has been playing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. And, quite frankly, he's been pretty amazing the last three seasons. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)
You're probably thinking, what's the problem?
The problem is, he is unsigned and he has rejected at least one contract offer from the Isles.
The 6'0" 190lb offensive defenseman, who is in his fifth season of junior hockey, was a fifth round draft pick of the Islanders in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He had been passed over in the 2010 NHL draft but earned a preseason camp invite from the Detroit Red Wings but didn't make the squad.
Maybe it Kichton was motivated by Detroit's rejection, or maybe he was just finally coming into his own, but the heady defender turned it up and had a breakout season scoring 23 goals and 81 points while earning a +/- of +55. That lead to his selection by New York.
He followed up that season with a year of 17 goals and 74 points. That offseason, the Islanders declined to sign the skilled but still developing defenseman and he returned to Spokane where he had another great season this year. He notched 22 goals and 85 points with a +39.
His team was eliminated in the second round of this year's playoffs while Kichton was second on his team with seven points in nine playoff contests.
In a perfect New York Islanders world, he would have joined the Lee, Pedan and Mayfield in Bridgeport, but alas, it was not to be.
So, where does that leave Kichton? Where does that leave the Isles?
It really is hard to say. Shortly after it was reported that he had not signed the Isles' ELC offer, Kichton went on Twitter and said words to the effect "don't believe all of what the media reports." Of course, that's not a direct quote, but the somewhat enigmatic statement could lead one to believe that he has not closed the door on signing with the Islanders.
In fact, it could very well be a negotiating tactic. A few seasons ago, a similar strategy was employed by another fifth round Isles selection. Matt Martin, who had a breakout junior career after being a fifth round pick, initially balked at his ELC. Later he signed after the Isles upped the sum. It's possible, even likely, that Kichton is trying to do the same. (Photo credit: clydeorama/flikr)
If he doesn't sign an ELC with the Isles, he will re-enter the draft. That is another avenue open to him, but one wonders why he would do that. Even with it likely, there is no guarantee he would be picked higher in the draft. Also, he would still be beholden to one team's contract offers.
Also, the Isles need to be careful here. There are only a limited number of contracts a team can sign and the Isles near their limit. This offseason will see some go off the books, and that might open the door to a Kichton signing, or the Islanders may simply save their dollars, and contract allotment, to use for other players, possibly veterans.
It would be a shame, for Islanders faithful anyway, to see Kichton go back in the draft. The young man has a lot of skill, is a smart player and is a puck moving defenseman. He still has some development to do to round out his game, but the tools are there.
Time will tell what New York General Manager Garth Snow will do. So far, Snow has done an admirable job analyzing, selecting, and signing amateur talent. While declining to sign Kichton might seem a gamble to fans, and possibly the Isles GM, his track record with youth might bear him out to be the wise one.
Isles fans need to keep the faith, regardless of what happens to Kichton.
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