Update [March 29, 2010]: According to Tony Ambrogio, the Brayden Irwin signing is now official. It's for two years and the Toronto native will join the team for the rest of the season. Same deal as Christian Hanson got last year. That means that he'll be an RFA at the end of next season.
Contrary to reports from the CBC the Toronto Maple Leafs did not sign Brady Irwin. Rather, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Brayden Irwin from the University of Vermont Catamounts. The signing hasn't been made official by the Maple Leafs yet because Vermont was just eliminated from the NCAA tournament. The Globe and Mail reported just over a week ago that he was among Brian Burke's targets and it looks like he has once again gotten his man. He joins Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson as free agents that Burke has signed from the NCAA.
Brayden Irwin is a six foot, five inch 215 pound monster local boy from Toronto. He took a quantum leap in production during his last year which is not a surprise considering he was a senior and turned 23 on the 24th of March. Below is a table showing his production as well as their NHL Equivalencies over an 82 game season as well as a video of the newest Maple Leaf during a post-game presser:
The University of Vermont has more on his collegiate career and I've spoken to a couple of NCAA writers to share up their thoughts after the jump.
First up, Ryan Lambert, also known as Two-Line Pass, who writes about the NHL on his eponymous blog and the NHL and NCAA for Puck Daddy:
As I tweeted to you earlier, his name is Brayden Irwin, not Brady. He played for Vermont. Spent time on Viktor Stalberg's line last season, but was hampered by injuries a bit that year. He went 15-19-34 in 39 games this year and was UVM's scoring leader. He's a better-than-NHL-sized kid at 6'5, 215.
Not going to bowl you over with any performance in particular (think he had two multi-goal nights this year and none before that), but he's defensively responsible and everything. He's not a bad player, needs work obviously.
Chris Dilks runs SBN's lone NCAA hockey blog, Western College Hockey Blog,
Vermont was at the regional I was covering this weekend, so I'm a little familiar with him. This was the quote from his coach at their Thursday press conference. "He plays like a power forward, and he's got a great release on his shot. He's not a great skater, but he can get around the rink. His numbers don't show that he was one of the best players in Hockey East, but I think he was."
I pretty much agree with that. Good power forward with average skating. He'll need some time in the AHL, but he could make a push to play in the NHL at some point. Also, spelling on his first name is 'Brayden' not Brady.
So, aside from pointing out that the CBC could use a little bit more effort in their fact-checking they present the picture of a player that already knows how to use his body. That marks a difference from a player like Christian Hanson who spent the majority of this season working on that aspect of his game. I would expect Irwin to follow the same path as Bozak, Hanson, and Stalberg did this year. He will start with the Toronto Marlies in order to grow accustomed to the professional game and the move from playing only on weekends. He'll have a lot of time to work on his skating and learning the systems that Ron Wilson expects him to have mastered on a renewed Marlies squad that could be teeming with Leafs' forward prospects.
Brian Burke may not have a draft pick in the first two rounds this year but he's off to a good start in adding prospects to help fill that gap.