Now, the New Jersey Devils are hoping the 5-foot-9, 180-pound center can elevate his game even more.
"Making the Devils is my long-term goal, and I know I'm going to have to work really hard to achieve that, so I'll take it week by week," said Burton, who has split his time this season between the franchise's American Hockey League (Lowell Devils) and the ECHL (Trenton Devils) affiliates.
Despite his stature, the 23-year-old Burton isn't afraid to go into the ugly areas to score goals. In fact, Burton was all smiles when he took his turn tipping home shots from the slot during the Devils' conditioning camp at the Prudential Center in July. He likes the dirty work and the results it produces.
"For as long as I've played, I've never been one of the bigger guys on the team," he said. "I've always had to fight through my size and those sort of issues. I just tried to play with a lot of heart. My mentality has always been to go out there, not be scared of anything and throw my body around when needed. I know I'm responsible for getting in front of the net and grinding it out in the corners and that style is nothing new to me. That's the way I've played my whole career and I enjoy it."
As a result, he's been an extremely productive offensive force.
In four seasons at Colgate University, Burton had 82 goals, 155 points and 158 penalty minutes in 158 games, establishing a school record for career games played. He led the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference with 23 goals and 41 points in 2007-08, while finishing with a plus-16 rating. He also was tied for third in the league with seven power-play goals and tied for second with five game-winners. He earned a spot on the ECAC's First-All Star Team in 2006 and Second All-Star Team in 2007 and 2008.
He signed as a free agent with the Devils on March 31, and had 2 points in six games with Lowell. He re-signed with Lowell on July 17.
"Tyler always has been a good player," said Devils Director of Scouting Dave Conte. "He was a leading scorer in college and a leading scorer in juniors (British Columbia Junior Hockey League) before he came here. He's always going to be 'too small,' but he always seems to be one of the better players out on the ice, so we're excited to see if he can take it to another level."
Prior to attending Colgate, Burton played for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCJHL. In his final season there, 2003-04, he led the club in scoring with 110 points, including 30 goals, in 60 games.
"I've been very fortunate to play with some great organizations," Burton said. "The Chilliwack Chiefs were phenomenal to me and I was able to develop there at a young age before heading to Colgate, where I spent the best four years of my life. I learned so much about the game from the players and coaching staff there and I feel I really developed into a better player.
"Moving forward is a great opportunity for me and I just want to take it all in, learn as much as I can from all the coaches and battle hard."
"As soon as I could walk, I could skate. I was playing competitive hockey when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I'm a big golfer and also played a lot of baseball growing up, but hockey is my real passion and I've worked hard many years to get to this point. Hopefully I'll be able to take it one step further."
-- Tyler Burton
"I think you continually have to get stronger and faster," he said. "As you move up a level everything kind of moves up a notch. At the end of the season last year, when I played some games with Lowell, that was the biggest difference. Everyone was kind of bigger and stronger, but I spent a lot of time in the weight room and with conditioning coaches this summer to get myself prepared."
Burton was a multi-sport athlete as a teenager, but realized his true calling at an earlier age.
"As soon as I could walk, I could skate," he said. "I was playing competitive hockey when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I'm a big golfer and also played a lot of baseball growing up, but hockey is my real passion and I've worked hard many years to get to this point. Hopefully I'll be able to take it one step further."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.