Similar to #17 voted J.C. Lipon, Winnipeg Jets 22nd best under 25 has gone through three separate NHL drafts, although under very different circumstances. Also like Lipon, Kichton's votes have come to a tie, although this time Kichton is the one who wins the tie breaker.
Kichton was an elite offensive defensemen in junior who will need to prove he has what it takes to do the same at the pro-level in-spite of his smaller than the average NHL defensemen frame.
||#127, 2011 and #190, 2013||23||25||23||20||24||21||23||10||21|
Melissa Martin tie breaking vote: Brenden Kichton
Previous Rank: NR
Probably not a huge fan of the NHL draft
We start off at 16 in the WHL where Kichton put up a measly nine points in 57 games. His points was the second lowest of the eight regular defensemen on the Spokane Chiefs; however, he was still 5th in the WHL for defensemen in his age group, again showing how usage is a large determiner of production statistics.
The next season, Kichton's role only increased by a minor amount as shown with him having the fourth highest points on the team for defensemen and his points per game played only raising to 0.27 in his draft season. Although Kichton's point totals were 12th in the WHL for U18 defensemen, he was passed for his first eligible draft. Many scouts have noted that the tools were there at the time but that he was predominately missed due to lack of exposure.
With those ahead of him graduating, Kichton was thrust into a more prominent role, taking over the main power play and being the anchor of the 1st pairing, and he ran away with it. Brenden amassed over a point per game, finishing third overall on his team for points. He was also first for under 19 defensemen in point totals and points per game. In fact, he tied for the lead in WHL defensemen point totals and was clear leader in points pre game. Kichton's Draft+1 production that season is similar to what Joshua Morrissey is currently trending for Draft+1 and what Postma accomplished in his Draft+2 season. He was named to WHL West 2nd All-Star Team and was selected in the 5th round by the New York Islanders, oddly enough by a pick that was traded to the Islanders from the Atlanta Thrashers organization.
The next season didn't prove to be too significantly different, as Kichton once again lead the WHL for defensmen points, assists and points per game. While Kichton's points per game dropped from the previous season, he still managed to stay above a point per game. Some of his drop could be explained by team effects, as Kichton actually led his team in points that year instead of placing third like the previous season. He was named to the WHL West 1st All-Star Team for his accomplishments.
Kichton was looking to go pro his next year, but was unable to come to terms with the Islanders organization, with many concerns over the defensive side of his game. It may be simply anecdotal circumstances, but the Islanders also drafted seven players in 2012, with all seven being defensemen, thus raising the organizational competition for spots in the depth charts.
Brenden took the demotion in stride, hoping to prove his organization that he could improve his defensive game. His coach noted at the end of the season that the team leaned on Kichton defensively, lining him up against the other teams top lines and in all situations. Kichton still ended up leading his team in points, assists, and plus/minus. He lead the league in defensemen points and points per game once again. Kichton finished the season 19th overall in league scoring, with only 4 less points than J.C. Lipon and 3 less than Adam Lowry. Corey Pronman noted Kichton's defensive game had improved much throughout the year, although still left some to be desired.
The Islanders extended a contract to Kichton's camp, although --according to Kichton's agents-- the contract was near bare minimum. Again according to Kichton's agents, they countered requesting for more but never received a response from the Islanders organization to their counter. What we do know for certain is the two camps ultimately failed to come to terms and Kichton re-entered the NHL Draft, only to be picked up by the Jets in the seventh round with the pick returned from the Alexei Ponikarovsky trade.
Brenden Kichton earned himself an Entry Level Contract out of training camp, even though the Jets did not need to sign Kichton to a NHL contract for him to play in the AHL, with the Jets reserving Kichton's rights from the 2013 draft. It should be noted that the Jets did not use an overly large ELC to sign Kichton, with Capgeek showing his contract to AHL component being larger than Cody Sol and Austen Brassard but less so than Julian Melchiori and Ben Chiarot. His signing bonus falls one of the lower of the five as well.
It looks like New York Islanders lost a potential NHL player over about 10-30 grand a year, although in their defense (ha pun!) they do have one of the deepest defensemen prospect pools in the league and Kichton is no guaranteed NHL player.
Top four or specialist (or bust)?
Brenden Kichton has already started off the year strong, scoring 3 points in his first two AHL hockey games. His historical development should be familiar to Jets fans as his progress mirrors that of Paul Postma. Like Postma, Kichton has the upside to become either a top four defensemen or a 3rd pairing power play specialist. Where either one falls mostly depends on how they develop in their own zone.