Before last season the Islanders offered ex-New Jersey Devil and free agent Steve Bernier a professional tryout contract (PTO). Bernier didn’t even have to play a game on his tryout before being signed by the Isles as the Isles signed him on the same day the traded Michael Grabner to the Leafs. That was on September 17th, 2015. Today on September 12th, 2016 the Islanders have offered ex-Devil Stephen Gionta a PTO.
Who is Stephen Gionta?
Gionta is 32 years old and is coming off a season with the Devils in which he played all 82 games registering one goal and 10 assists. In his regular-season NHL career he has played 270 games and has scored 15 goals and 35 assists. During the 2012 playoffs Gionta had three goals and four assists in a 24 game run that saw the Devils lose to the Kings in the Stanley Cup finals. Gionta has killed penalties, can throw the body, and can come up clutch when it counts (Of Gionta’s 15 goals, three have been go-ahead or game winning goals).
What does this mean for the Isles?
What was the reasoning behind the Isles offering Gionta a PTO? I am not going to pretend like I know a lot about Gionta because I don’t. I’ve seen him play against the Isles, I’ve seen his stats, I’ve seen highlights of him via YouTube. From all of this however, I see a hard working guy. Perhaps the Isles need some players to sub in during preseason? Maybe they want him to serve as a mentor for the younger guys in Bridgeport (he does have 146 points, 63 goals and 83 assists, in 374 games in the AHL). Maybe if Strome doesn’t re-sign by the Isles deadline or maybe they feel Barzal isn’t ready to make the leap? PTOs don’t guarantee contracts. Derek Roy played very well for the Capitals in the preseason last year and didn’t get an offer from them. I for one would like to see Gionta in the Isles organization whether it is in Bridgeport or Brooklyn.