The New York Islanders announced a minor but potentially useful move in reaching terms with forward Travis St. Denis on his first NHL contract.
It’s a two-year, two-way deal for a center who will be 26 in September after two steadily improving years at AHL Bridgeport. On the surface, such deals are common. But St. Denis is a little more interesting in that he became the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ leading scorer (23 goals, 44 points) last season as his role grew.
He was undrafted after four years at NCAA Quinnipiac (where they reached the the NCAA tournament each year, making the final Frozen Four twice) and before that in the BCHL. The most obvious reason: He’s 5’7”, 170 lbs.
So, that frame is much smaller than what you expect out of an NHL center, not something you could regularly line up against the league’s top physical specimens. But the league is becoming more and more amenable to trying smaller-frame forwards who can score, and if he can translate any of that — especially if he’s not saddled with grinders a la Tanner Fritz’s initial weeks with the Isles — then it could be useful depth for the Isles.
In his year-end wrap, Sound Tigers beatwriter Michael Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post had this from St. Denis, on what he took from his year:
“It’s tough to say. I kind of struggled a bit early on. It was nice to reach that 20-plus goal mark. That was big for me. That gives me confidence going to next year. It’s a big summer for me, training.”
As telling, perhaps, is a tweet about undrafted and undersized Lightning star Tyler Johnson that St. Denis has pinned to the top of his Twitter timeline:
"Some teams actually forfeited their picks before I was drafted. They literally figured that picking nobody was better than taking me.”@tjohnny09’s fallback career was as a nurse anesthetist.— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) April 11, 2018
Now his only focus is @TBLightning’s playoff run.https://t.co/pQJYLyaQaV