The first in-and-out New York Islander in our top 25 under 25 countdown. His path to the crease is significantly blocked at the moment, but with the right play it might open up.
The New York Islanders have a ton of goaltenders on the books. They already have two goaltenders fighting for the top job this season. They have another that’s stopping just about everything in Russia.
They have a third string goaltender, in Jean-Francois Berube, whose seemingly along for the ride. Happily inserting himself into either the AHL or NHL lineup depending on what team can use him on any particular night.
Gibson came to the Islanders not by way of the draft like most in this countdown, but by trade. Gibson was one of five players that were shipped to the Islanders from the Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for Micheal Grabner.
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Gibson was never signed by the Kings. After the two-year window following his draft year, Gibson became a UFA and was snatched up by the Maple Leafs.
On a strong 2013-14 Toronto Marlies team, Gibson put up a .921 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average in 45 starts. After the Grabner trade, Gibson suited up for a weaker Sound Tigers team, where after a similar period of play he put up a .909 save percentage and a 2.70 goals against average.
At 22-years-old Gibson still has a number of years before he hits peak performance. His time in the AHL serves him well because he’s getting game time. He’s getting to see some pucks.
For goalies to improve they need to see the puck. Sit them on the bench or keep the puck away for any extended period of time and they start to go cold, both figuratively and literally.
His play is being noticed by the big club. Last season, after Halak went out with an injury. Gibson was able to step in as relief to defacto starter Thomas Greiss. Getting three starts in the month of April.
The path to a starting NHL position is blocked at the moment. With Halak on top of his game over at the World Cup of Hockey, he’s earned the right to keep his job. Even though Thomas Greiss is still waiting in the wings.
Greiss only has a year left on his two-year $3 million deal he signed back in 2015. He might not be back next season, no matter how fantastic he was in 2015-16. Meaning a backup spot might just open up. And who better to fill it than the guy who’s been stopping rubber down in Bridgeport for the last two years?