I mentioned Jon Landry last week as one of the Islanders’ depth signings, but the organization added two other new faces to their farm system during this free agency period.
Brandon DeFazio and Colin McDonald each agreed to one-year, two-way deals with the Isles on July 2. Both have spent time mainly in the minor leagues (and within the Penguins’ organization) before coming to the Islanders.
DeFazio, a 23-year-old left wing from Oakville, Ont., went undrafted and attended Clarkson University, where he played D1 hockey. He then joined the Pens’ organization, where his father Dean also played, and spent time with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He attended training camp in Pittsburgh prior to the 2011-12 season but was sent to WBS.
It’s said Brandon takes after his father in more ways than just playing location. Like Dean, Brandon DeFazio plays a gritty, fourth-line style of hockey, although he apparently has good skills. He’s only ever been a 10-15 goal scorer at best from what I can tell, so don’t expect too much out of the forward.
Meanwhile, McDonald also went the four-year route at Providence College, although he was drafted 51st overall by the Oilers in 2003. The Wethersfield, CT native is a right wing and a bigger goal scorer than DeFazio, his best season coming in 2010-11 with Oklahoma City of the AHL (42 G, 16 A). Hockey’s Future calls him “Jarret Stoll-like” as far as character goes, with shot accuracy and physicality as some of his other strengths.
However, that didn’t stop him from becoming frustrated during his time in the Oilers’ organization. This article from The Hockey Writers expresses that pretty clearly, and also details his progress so far from Providence to his then-new opportunity with the Pens’ system. Although he showed some good things to Dan Bylsma in the five games he played with the Penguins, it’s definitely tough to compete with the kind of depth Pittsburgh has, hence his final destination (for now) on Long Island, where things aren’t quite as tight. Overall, McDonald believes he has what it takes to get to the next level, and he’s certainly willing to prove it. Time will tell if the Islanders will be the ones to really give him that shot.
Since these signings, GM Garth Snow has been fairly quiet regarding anyone else in the FA pool. Perhaps it’s to be expected, seeing as it’s slim pickings from here on out. As for these two guys… maybe we’ll see them on the Island for a couple of games, maybe we won’t. Right now, I can see McDonald having more of an opportunity than DeFazio, seeing as Bylsma spoke highly of McDonald’s versatility (and we could use some of that in the lineup, depending on how our offense pans out this coming season). Both of these guys have a physical element to their game, which is something of a theme at this point considering the number of tough customers we’ve signed lately. But we shall see.
Until next time.