Islanders’ Fasching Exceeding Expectations

Although this season has been a struggle for the New York Islanders, one player has excelled since his call-up, and is making his case to become a regular in the lineup. The 27-year-old winger, Hudson Fasching, signed with the Islanders over the summer with the intent of playing for their affiliate the Bridgeport Islanders. Plans changed after a series of injuries to the Islanders’ forward group, and Fasching got the call.

Through 19 games, he has found success playing on a line with Zach Parise and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, with three goals and two assists. The jury is still out on whether Fasching will be a regular when the team gets healthy, but he is making sure it will be a difficult decision for head coach Lane Lambert.

Fasching’s Journey

It certainly hasn’t been an easy road for Fasching. He was drafted in the fourth round, 118th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and was included in a trade in March 2014 when the Kings dealt him to the Buffalo Sabres as part of a larger deal for Brayden McNabb. He signed his first pro deal with the Sabres on March 21, 2016.

Related: Islanders’ Injuries Highlight Lack of Depth

While the young winger did not see much NHL action in his first five pro seasons, he scored his first NHL goal on his first-ever shot and recorded his first assist against on April 9, 2016. In June 2018, he signed a two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes but played only 16 games in the NHL, with over 150 games in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 2014, he was selected to play for the USA World Junior team.

Playing the Right Way

In his time with the Islanders, Fasching has become a regular who continues to gain the trust of the coaching staff. “I thought he was very good tonight,” is what Islanders coach Lane Lambert told Kevin Kurz of The Athletic after Monday’s overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. We had many opportunities to either put the game out of reach or take the lead back over late in the game. He was responsible for some of those opportunities.” (from “Islanders’ Hudson Fasching proving to be a bright spot as losses mount,” The Athletic, 1/16/23)

What sets him apart is his big 6-foot-4 frame, and being one of the more complete power forwards on the roster. He is a strong and physical winger who has offensive ability as well. He even spent some recent time playing on the Islanders’ first line with Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal. He also has a strong two-way game, which fits into the culture that general manager Lou Lamoriello and former head coach Barry Trotz brought to the Island when they arrived almost five years ago. Fasching has proven he can play any role in the lineup and that is a very valuable asset to a team who lacks depth on the wing. Given the long list of injuries and the team’s well-known offensive struggles, he is getting every opportunity to showcase his talent and has succeeded. He provides that valuable asset of his strong play away from the puck, which is something the coaching staff is keen on.

Hudson Fasching
Hudson Fasching [photo: Tom Sorensen]

With injured forward Kyle Palmieri nearing his return, Lambert faces a very tough lineup decision. Although Fasching has played well in his brief stint on the Island, Palmieri is likely to return to his regular role in the lineup when he comes back. If that is the case, there is currently no available spot in the lineup for Fasching to play. He could stay on the roster as the extra forward and jump in the lineup when needed or he could take a spot away from a struggling veteran such as Bailey or Anthony Beauvillier.

One thing that is certain is that the Islanders severely lack is youth and speed, especially with this aging forward group. If Fasching continues to prove to the coaching staff that he belongs, there won’t be a very hard decision to make. He has done more than enough to earn a full-time roster spot with this group. His ability to play up and down the lineup provides value to a team that really needs all of the help they can get.

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