There aren’t too many seventh-round draft picks who have put up three 70-plus point seasons consecutively, from the blueline. Brenden Kichton is one of them, and he wears a Winnipeg Jets jersey along with his new three-year, entry-level contract.
The Spruce Grove, AB native played five seasons with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League for 333 career games, 268 points (67g, 201a) and 143 career penalty minutes. The 6’0 190-pound defenceman not only led the Chiefs in points in 2012-13, but also won the WHL Defenceman of the Year award after leading all defenceman in scoring with 74 points, including 57 assists. In 71 games, Kichton scored 17 goals with a plus-minus 25.
“It was a great season,” said Kichton. “We lost to a pretty good Portland team in the second round but overall I was happy with how my season went. For me, I just did what I was able to do over the last two years. I’ve had a really good coach, Don Nachbaur, who allowed me to do what I can do. That’s really helped me a lot through the years.”
Nachbaur was quick to attest to Kichton’s strengths and attributes as a player.
"Brenden was an excellent player to coach,” said Nachbaur. “He was a very driven athlete who continued to get better year after year. Kich was extremely dedicated to the game of hockey and took very good care of himself. There is no question he obtained his success from his dedication and hard work, but he never accepted being average or having an off night.
“Although Brenden is not an overly big player, he was extremely competitive, possessed excellent skills and was an elite player in Major Junior Hockey. He worked his way into becoming one of the best two-way defensemen in the Western Hockey League, and this is a credit to his character and drive. This is why he was selected to lead our club as Team Captain."
General Manager of the Spokane Chiefs, Tim Speltz, will remember the captain for his strong leadership skills and dedication to the club.
“Brenden was a great player during his time with our organization,” said Speltz. “He was patient as a young player and waited for his chance to contribute. He quickly flourished when presented the opportunity because of his off-ice commitment and dedication. Brenden was a great example for our younger players with his work ethic and professional approach to the game. He was a great leader offensively while never compromising the defensive side of the game.”
Last June wasn’t the first time Kichton heard his name called at the NHL Draft, he was originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the fifth round, 127th overall, in 2011. When the Isles’ failed to close a deal with Kichton, he was placed back into the draft class for 2013. The Winnipeg Jets were happy to see his name available in the seventh round and selected him 190th overall. The 21-year-old inked a three-year contract with the Jets on August 28th, 2013.
“On draft day, I really didn’t know if I was going to get drafted or not, or whether it was the best thing for me,” said Kichton. “When the Jets picked me I was really excited and happy to come to a hockey market. It was a great feeling.”
Kichton attended the Winnipeg Jets Development Camp in July, as well as the Young Stars Classic rookie tournament in Penticton, BC in September. He went in looking to make an impression and did just that, recording a pair of goals in the first game and finished with four points in the three-game tournament.
“We knew that he had a real offensive upside,” said Jets’ prospects, and St. John’s IceCaps head coach, Keith McCambridge. “That was obviously there with a real good presence in the first game, but I also thought defensively, he made some good reads. I thought he moved the puck up the ice efficiently, so good first impression for me. I know we saw him in development camp but from a coaching side of things, this is different as they are getting ready for training camp and the season.”