TORONTO– Going all summer without a contract came down to only one real issue for Leafs prospect Brayden Irwin.
“Me and my agent had been in talks with the Leafs front office even before camp,” said Irwin. “The management just wanted to make sure I was healthy and that I could play a regular shift.”
The 24 year old was limited to just 45 games last year scoring seven goals and 15 points after missing much of the second half of the season with what was labelled an upper body injury; or more directly a concussion.
One of GM Brian Burkes college free agent signings, the graduate of the University of Vermont knows his first season of pro hockey only allowed him to get his feet wet and not show what he had to offer the club. That is why resigning with Toronto is something he is appreciative of.
“I was really excited to know I could come back to Toronto and I feel really fortunate to be given another chance,” said Irwin when asked about a chance to stay and play in his hometown.
Irwin’s deal is for one year and is a minor league contract; unlike his previous entry level deal. Although terms have not been disclosed it’s likely he took a pay cut to stay.
While adding some depth to the Marlies centre position, his success will be based on what he believes he can control.
“Being a big strong guy on the puck, I have to keep my feet moving to create space for myself and my line-mates and if I get an opportunity to shoot the puck, I think that’s one of my biggest assets so, I have to look to shoot the puck more.”
With Mike Zigomanis and Joe Colborne the only guaranteed Marlies players up the middle to start the season, the 6’5” Irwin will have to wait for Leafs camp to wrap up before he knows who else will be fighting for a bottom six role. Depending on what decisions are made and if Matthew Lombardi is healthy, Darryl Boyce and Philippe Dupuis could be back down in the AHL making it that much more difficult for Irwin to play.
Regardless of the potential clog at his position, Irwin is happy to have the season start at full health in the blue and white.
“I’m 100 percent healthy and looking forward to this year with the Marlies.”
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