|Former captain, former Memorial Cup Champion.|
Well, Isles fans - good news! The New York Islanders made a small transaction today. It may be another name that you never heard of, but Chris Bruton, a forward, signed with the Isles on a one-year, two-way contract.
It's not a move that's going to change the organization. Chris Bruton is more of a fighter than a scorer. At 26-years-old Bruton is still looking for his first shot at the NHL. Stranger things have happened on the Island, though, and Bruton's player fits the Islanders' recent structure under Garth Snow.
Where should we begin with this kid? Well, when you look at the score-sheet, it may surprise you that Bruton stands at 5'11. It may be a bit small for the typical fighter, but Bruton never fails to rack up the penalty minutes. In his first full season at the AHL-level, Bruton registered 134 penalty minutes with the Peoria Rivermen. It's a trend that you would notice if you followed Chris Bruton throughout his hockey-career. Bruton has never been shy to drop the gloves, and I don't think that's going to stop as he continues to chase his dream of playing in the NHL.
Chris Bruton's career, like many of the recent additions to the Islanders organization, has seen some interesting travels over the years. He finished junior hockey to play for Acadia University, which explains why he never reached the pro-level until he was 24-years old. From there, Bruton joined the ECHL, where he played for Brent Thompson's former team, the Alaska Aces. During that first season with Alaska, Bruton caught the eye of the St. Louis Blues, who signed him and placed him with their AHL-affiliate Peoria Rivermen, where he would have nine fighting majors in 38 games.
What interests me most about Bruton, though, is his junior hockey career. Although it ended five years ago, Bruton never scored more than 28 points until his fourth season with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. During his fourth and final season of junior hockey, Chris Bruton was named captain of the Chiefs, scored a career-high 63 points, and led Spokane to a Memorial Cup.
It's not so much the points that catches my eyes (Bruton isn't going to produce at a high-level in the NHL), but the leadership intangibles that Bruton may possess. Over the years, the Islanders have done a good job bringing players on board (via draft and free agency) that have held leadership roles, and/or knew how to win/have won. Chris Bruton has captained his team to a championship, and has now been added to the Islanders organization.
Sure, it's possible that Bruton never sees the ice as a member of the New York Islanders. As Bridgeport continues its infusion of prospects, though, Bruton's on-ice and off-ice leadership may prove to be invaluable. If you don't believe me, see Colin McDonald, who was a "nobody" before the Islanders signed him. McDonald ended up captaining the Sound Tigers for a few months before receiving his shot on the Island, where he played an integral role during the Islanders recent playoff run.
A team can never have enough depth within its organization, especially in a leadership capacity. The Chris Bruton signing may not be a deal-breaker, but it's a strong depth move for the Islanders and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Garth Snow's doing his homework with this signing, that's for sure.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!