Kevin SchultzNHL teams have two years to sign junior hockey players after drafting them, and this year for the Islanders that means Mitchell Theoret and Brenden Kichton. Both players were drafted in 2011, and if left un-signed by June 1st, they can both re-enter the draft.
The rest of the Islanders 2011 draft class is signed with the exception Robbie Russo who still has time left at Notre Dame (college players don’t need to be signed until they leave school). The other five players from ’11 all spent time in Bridgeport this year: Ryan Strome, Scott Mayfield, Johan Sundstrom, Andrey Pedan and John Persson.
For Kichton, the road to this point has been an odd one. When he was originally drafted by the Islanders in 2011, it was because he had re-entered the draft after being passed on by everyone in 2010. Kichton was the captain for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, totaling a career-high 85 points and 22 goals in 71 games this past season.
According to Newsday, Kichton passed on a contract offer from the Islanders in March, which was around the time the team signed a number of players including a few of Kichton’s draft classmates. A few days later on Twitter, Kichton responded by saying “don’t believe everything you hear,” which didn’t really clear anything up except to point out that there are two sides to every story.
With time ticking down and literally no news on the Kichton front — the Twitter dustup happened two months ago — it seems as though he is as good as gone and headed back to the draft. Kichton’s numbers plateaued over the last few years. The year prior to the Isles drafting them he had 81 points in 64 games, and totaled 74 and 85 points in the two following seasons (71 games each). That said, that’s an awful lot of production from a defenseman and one that was a fifth-round, second go-around draft pick, no less.
With a number of defenders already in Bridgeport, plus a few more from the 2011 draft class signed this year (Pedan and Mayfield), and the seven defenders from the 2012 draft, maybe the Islanders feel that there are enough defenders in the system and Kichton is one that can be let go. Or maybe it has to do more with the terms Kichton required — we don’t know. Whatever the reason, it looks like the Islanders will part with Kichton.
As for Mitchell Theoret, it’s quite a different story. Theoret’s junior team, the Barrie Colts, didn’t get knocked out of the OHL playoffs until May 13th. News doesn’t usually break about future plans until the junior season ends for the player, for obvious reasons, so it’s only been two weeks since Theoret’s season ended.
Theoret has always been a longshot, drafted in the seventh round back in 2011 and plays with a bit of an edge. Before being traded to Barrie this season, Theoret played on Ryan Strome’s team, the Niagara IceDogs, and even spending a little time on a line with Strome. This year, he ended up with 60 points in 60 games split between the two teams, a heck of a jump up from the 21 in 62 he had the season prior.
Theoret is a center, but has spent some time on the wing, so he may simply be a casualty of a deep roster. The Islanders are knee deep in centers, with Strome and Nelson in the system along with Casey Cizikas stepping up this season on the Island.
We’ll find out for sure what the team’s plans are for both players by the end of the week. Sometimes, players just have to be passed up on due to depth at the position or how many contracts they have. Teams are limited to having 50 players signed for a given season. The Islanders have 33 signed for next season.
By my count, the Islanders already have 41 with a number of free agents who may or may not return still to go (Brad Boyes, Marty Reasoner, Keith Aucoin, Jesse Joesnuu, Mark Streit, Radek Martinek, Evgeni Nabokov and six minor leaguers).