The New Jersey Devils didn’t stop after signing Brian Boyle to a two-year contract; Saturday evening, they announced that they also signed forwards Brian Gibbons and Bracken Kearns, and defenseman Brian Strait to one-year, two-way contracts. These aren’t major moves; they’re likely just for AHL-depth, which they do need, especially for defensemen. They’ve lost Vojtech Mozik to the KHL and Seth Helgeson to free agency. But don’t think these moves are anything other than just AHL-depth because they’re not.
Gibbons should sound somewhat familiar to Devils fans. He’s played 66 NHL games (with Pittsburgh and Columbus) but has played most of the last few years in various AHL affiliates. Last year, he played with the Albany Devils, New Jersey’s AHL team, and picked up 36 points in 72 regular season games played; he had one in four playoff games.
Strait is a defenseman; he’s played 187 NHL games and has 29 points. He played three seasons with Pittsburgh (the team that drafted him), three seasons with the Islanders, and last season with the Jets. He played just five games with Winnipeg, picking up two points, and spent the rest of the season with their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, where had 14 points in 58 games. He’s 6′ 1″ and 209 pounds, so he’s a decent-sized defenseman.
Kearns has played just 35 NHL games and in his five-year career thus far, he’s played for three different teams: the Panthers, the Sharks, and the Islanders. He has just six points. He played just four NHL games the past two seasons with New York and spent most of his time with their AHL team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He had 51 points in 74 games this past season, and 53 points in 73 games the year before (and two in three playoff games). He’s 6′ 0″ and 196 pounds. Again, another depth move.
They’re all depth moves and with the flexibility of a two-way contract, the Devils can do with them as they please. However, I wouldn’t expect any of them to get NHL time this upcoming season.
On a side note, I know it’s disappointing that the Devils didn’t get Kevin Shattenkirk but I’m sure GM Ray Shero has something big planned. He’s made some strategic moves and the Devils have a ton of cap space. They’ll do something big; it’s just a matter of time.