Leafs Sign College Forward Brayden Irwin: Did Brian Burke Find Another Gem?
Various news sources are reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed University of Vermont forward Brayden Irwin to a two-year entry-level contract.
Irwin, stands 6’5” and weighs in at an impressive 215 pounds. Known as a tough, grinding player with average hands, Irwin led the Vermont Catamounts with 15 goals and 34 points in 39 games this season, while also racking up 72 penalty minutes.
A former teammate of current Toronto Maple Leaf forward Victor Stalberg, Irwin has an outside chance at cracking the Leafs lineup next year, perhaps bumping the likes of Colton Orr or Jay Rosehill (both of whom are very one-dimensional players) off the Leafs roster in 2010-11.
More likely, as is the case with many big power forwards, Irwin will need to work on his skating and his overall hockey IQ. Many scouts feel he will require some seasoning in the AHL with the Leafs affiliate Toronto Marlies where he can work on all aspects of his game and get acclimatized to the AHL/NHL.
In an effort to off-set the loss of draft picks and replenish a farm system that was void of many prospects, Leafs general manager Brian Burke has already brought the likes of Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson and Victor Stalberg, into the Leafs organization via college hockey.
Bozak, Hanson and Stalberg have all made decent contributions to the Leafs this season, with Bozak standing out as a legitimate NHL player and perhaps even a future star.
Like Bozak, Hanson and Stalberg before him, Irwin is raw. I would caution all Leaf fans not to get your hopes up too high for this kid. In the end, we are likely talking about a third line player at best, not a game breaker.
Anytime you can bring in a decent prospect for nothing but a bag of cash you are ahead of the game and for that Brian Burke should be applauded.
Time will only tell if this was money well spent, if he turns into a ten minute per game player Burke will have found a gem…at least in some people’s eyes. After all, something for nothing is always good, right?
Until next time,