The year that was…
Brian Gibbons finally earned his NHL chops last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And after fielding offers from several teams this July, Gibbons chose Columbus as his next destination to cement himself as an everyday NHLer.
The 26 year-old forward made his NHL debut after two full seasons in the AHL, and produced admirably for the Penguins, scoring five goals and 17 points in 41 games. He added 11 goals and 30 points in 28 games for Wilkes-Barre, as well, but it was Gibbons’ post-season play that drew more attention, when he scored two goals (both against the Blue Jackets) and was one of the more consistent role players for a Penguins team that had a few underachievers.
Where is he now?
Gibbons has speed and skill and has forced himself into consideration as a quality two-way player on the rise. With very limited ice time playing behind a roster stacked with star forwards, Gibbons asserted himself as a player to watch in the playoffs.
|Brian Gibbons joins the Blue Jackets hoping to earn a spot in the bottom six. Click the photo watch his spectacular end-to-end goal. |
He went on to add three points in 10 AHL playoff games, including a coast-to-coast highlight reel goal that won’t soon be forgotten by anyone touting Gibbons as a player with NHL skill to go with his proven NHL speed.
Gibbons’ age (26) leaves one with the impression that he is a journeyman project that hasn’t panned out, when in reality it is due to his time spent at Boston College. Gibbons played with Cam Atkinson for three seasons at BC, and will be in the mix for a spot on the Jackets’ roster once training camp begins.
On paper, Gibbons is in the mix to compete for a spot on the fourth line along with a group of players that includes another newcomer in Jerry D’Amigo. Gibbons has the most NHL experience amongst that group, has a versatile skill set, and also an effective checker and penalty killer. If the fourth line in Columbus is truly an open competition, then Gibbons should have the inside track on a spot.
Gibbons progressed nicely through minor pro hockey and proved a useful player when given the chance in the precise role the Jackets will need him to fill – and make no bones about it, he will need to impress in training camp to be on that plane to Buffalo for Game No. 1.