Veteran and former New Jersey Devils center Stephen Gionta will now join the New York Islanders on a PTO deal.
Stephen Gionta has signed with the Isles on a PTO basis.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 12, 2016
In 270 career NHL games with the New Jersey Devils, Gionta has collected 15 goals and 50 points. Known more as a bottom six grinder-type of forward, the undrafted center hopes to prove his worth with the Islanders during their training camp.
Despite his determination, it is highly unlikely he cracks the opening roster given the depth the Islanders have in forwards, especially centers. This is almost certainly a depth signing for New York, similarly to what Steve Bernier was to the team last season.
He’s someone who would be able to sit on the bench the majority of the season, play about 30 games max and even have stints in the minors if need be.
The fact is that the Islanders are simply not in need of Gionta’s services in the big leagues. He would, however, be a catalyst in the AHL with the Sound Tigers.
Part of what helps make the Islanders depth so prominent is the leadership and experience that exists in Bridgeport. For instance, despite Ryan Strome’s struggles last season, he credited players like Eric Boulton and Matt Carkner in the AHL in helping get him back on the right track in his development.
Gionta would be a fantastic piece to that group of veterans, having been a part of a long playoff run with New Jersey in 2012 as champions of the Eastern Conference and six Stanley Cup Final games that were even closer than the overtime scores indicated.
Worst comes to worst, the Islanders release Gionta during or at the conclusion of training camp and move on. Best case scenario, Gionta accepts a role with Bridgeport and becomes a key leader in the locker room to help guide the Isles valuable prospects.