Josh Ho-Sang may end up being a very talented NHL player, but it seems like his time with the New York Islanders is coming to end after he was reassigned to the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. His time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers was anything but smooth, though this could be the best thing to happen to him. While he still remains the property of the Islanders, he will play the rest of the season with San Antonio and will have a chance to compete for the Calder Cup, as he scored in his first game Friday night.
This type of move is very common in the AHL but doesn’t necessarily happen to former first-round picks. Ho-Sang is in the final year of his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. It is almost certain that he will not be back, but can still potentially be a player the Islanders try to move if he shows success in San Antonio. While the trade deadline has already passed in the NHL, there can still be trades made in the AHL.
Any time Ho-Sang played in the NHL, the Islanders had success. In his first NHL season, he scored 4 goals in 21 games, including his first career goal against the Edmonton Oilers, but did not play in the postseason. When he was in the lineup, the Islanders went 32-17-4 and went 9-1 last year. Ho-Sang has a ton of skill and is a great playmaker with the ability to put the puck in the back of the net.
The only problem was the off-the-ice issues. While Ho-Sang was very confident he would be the best player in the 2014 NHL draft, he started his time with the Islanders by oversleeping during training camp. He requested a trade earlier this season and did not report to the Sound Tigers at the start of the year. Ho-Sang only scored 3 goals in 16 games with Bridgeport.
He also becomes another player to get added to the list of first-round picks to not work out with the Islanders. It started with Nino Niederreiter, who the Islanders buried on the fourth line with Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner before trading him to the Minnesota Wild for Cal Clutterbuck. The very next year, the Islanders selected Ryan Strome, and while he has turned himself into an excellent player for the New York Rangers, he could never find his game with the Isles and was dealt for Jordan Eberle.
Then once again, with the Islanders receiving a top-five pick, they chose Griffin Reinhart, who is now out of the league and playing in the KHL. While it is still early, Michael Dal Colle has struggled to get going in his career and hopes not to join Ho-Sang and the other three first-round picks in the last decade in failing with New York.
Right now, it’s hard to imagine the Islanders can get anything for their once-prized prospect. While Sonny Milano has had much more success in the NHL, the Islanders would likely need to swap Ho-Sang for a player who also is a top pick that has never really got it going in his career. Milano is a Long Island native and would be an interesting fit, but Ho-Sang has to improve for a move like that even to happen. That would be an unlikely trade with both players becoming RFAs this summer, but that would be how the Islanders would have to shop.
The Islanders were able to get Ho-Sang to play for another team, but if New York can receive any draft pick for him, they should be all in. For a player that is not helping the current NHL team, there is no need for this kind of distraction. Whether the extra draft pick turns out to be useful or not, it doesn’t hurt to have extra picks, even if they are a few seasons down the road.
We saw during the trade deadline this season that all it takes could be a fifth-round pick to acquire a player like Wayne Simmonds, who can help a hockey team trying to make the playoffs. The one area where the Islanders have had success in recent years is turning their failed picks into great players down the road. Despite Reinhart having much more value at the time, the Islanders were able to receive draft picks where they selected their next superstar in Mat Barzal. They then flipped a second pick to select Anthony Beauvullier.
If Ho-Sang does not play another game for the Islanders, the 2014 first-rounder will always be looked at as a disappointing pick the club made. They had high expectations for him, but too many distractions got in the way for him to perform at his best. Ho-Sang still has the potential to be a solid NHL forward, but it most likely will not be on Long Island.
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