Ho-Sang Can’t Stick on NHL Roster Despite Talent

The hockey world was reminded once again that talent isn’t everything when Josh Ho-Sang was assigned to the AHL last week. The 23-year-old right-winger was disappointed to learn that his club to start the season isn’t the New York Islanders, but their affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

The reason behind the move by general manager Lou Lamoriello is speculated to have been Ho-Sang’s poor attitude. On the most recent episode of Coach’s Corner, Don Cherry brought this to light. Cherry explained, “This kid . . . was the best player in the GTHL I ever saw . . . and you know what, nobody wants him because of his attitude.” (Skip ahead to 6:10 in the video below to see his comments.)

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Ho-Sang has been a highly rated player his entire career. He was taken fifth overall by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection. It was the same year his Toronto Marlboros teammate, Connor McDavid, came off the board first.

Ho-Sang put up great numbers in junior. He scored 292 points with 82 goals and 210 assists in 256 games. That was an impressive 1.14 points per game, which was surpassed by his 1.41 points per game in the OHL playoffs. That success led to him being drafted 28th in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Islanders.

Josh Ho-Sang - Islanders
Josh Ho-Sang, New York Islanders, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Most scouts and analysts, including this site, predicted that Ho-Sang would be selected earlier in the draft, but rumours of his off-ice antics may have been what caused him to drop to close to the end of the first round. The Islanders recognized Ho-Sang’s potential and traded up to ensure that they secured their man.

Ho-Sang had a Reputation

ESPN profiled Ho-Sang ahead of the NHL draft and explained why some teams wanted nothing to do with the incredibly talented forward from Thornhill, Ontario.

When you start to add up the early struggles in school, the internal discipline in Windsor, Ho-Sang being left off Hockey Canada’s U18 team, his reputation as someone who questions authority and his flashy plays on the ice, then mix in how much is at stake with teams selecting in the first round, it’s easy to see why teams might be nervous.

It turns out that teams were right to pass on Ho-Sang. His NHL career output has not lived up to his potential. Through his three years as a pro, he has appeared in 53 NHL games and posted 24 points. He saw more success in his 156 AHL games where his point total reached 110 on 26 goals and 84 assists.

Ho-Sang’s Trade Demand

Ho-Sang isn’t interested in another season with the Sound Tigers. After it was announced that he was assigned to Bridgeport, Lamoriello stated pubically that Ho-Sang’s agent informed him that the winger had requested a trade.

Josh Ho-Sang
Joshua Ho-Sang (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lamoriello told Ho-Sang’s camp that he will try to fulfil their wishes. While he works the phones trying to find a trade partner, Ho-Sang was instructed by the organization to hold off on reporting to their AHL team.

The question will be what compensation the player who recently cleared waivers could get the Islanders. He may not have made the team out of camp, but perhaps there is a franchise in the league who believes his skill set and talents could be of value in their organization.

On Hockey Night in Canada this past Saturday, Elliotte Friedman explained that Ho-Sang has been sharing a message with multiple NHL teams. He let them know that “He will do whatever it takes to get a fresh start, including start in the American Hockey League.”

This should certainly help Ho-Sang ingratiate himself with other NHL general managers. Hopefully, for Ho-Sang, the Islanders manage to find a trading partner, which could allow him to reinvent himself and his off-ice character.