The stats don’t always tell the whole story about a player. Joshua Ho-Sang is, without a doubt, one of those players. Scoring 10 points in 20 games isn’t going to get you a Calder Trophy. As a matter of fact, Ho-Sang, by NHL regulations, will still be a rookie next season. But make no mistake, Ho-Sang has the potential to be one of the most exciting players on the Islanders next season.
The 2016-17 season was a learning experience for Ho-Sang. Between splitting time at Bridgeport in the AHL and the Islanders, transition was the name of his game. Benched early in the season, Ho-Sang learned he had to skate more. He had to get hungrier. By the time he got to the NHL, Ho-Sang was like the Tasmanian Devil. It was like the puck was glued to him. Or that he has a magnet on his stick. Dynamic and energetic, Ho-Sang proved he is talented enough to be an NHL regular.
Who Will he Play With?
Ho-Sang’s success this season at times felt tied to the growth of Anthony Beauvillier. It’s here where the two youths can form a bond that can ignite both of their careers. Secondary scoring is hard to come by at the NHL level and both have 20-goal potential. Because of that, it makes sense to keep them together.
However, the notion of Josh Ho-Sang playing alongside John Tavares and Anders Lee is tempting. Tavares plays his best hockey when someone can pass and create with him and the more space Lee has, the better. The Islanders don’t have another player on the roster that can do that. Unless they go out and sign another forward with that skill level, it makes sense for Ho-Sang to get top-three minutes.
The Future for Josh Ho-Sang
Although Ho-Sang was a pleasant surprise this season, he still has a lot of room to grow. Over time his defensive play got better and he wasn’t scared to shoot. That will be the key to his success over time. Only a small percentage of NHL players can get away with being a liability on defense and none of them can wear an Islanders jersey if the team has playoff aspirations.
In order for him to be the force the Isles need, he has to be a complete player. That may mean some more weight on that skinny frame so he doesn’t get knocked around as much. He may mean some time killing penalties so he can earn his stripes. Someone who wants the puck as much as Ho-Sang has to understand he’s on a team. If the Islanders coaching staff works hard with him, he’ll be a wonderful investment.
“Over the final five weeks of the season, Ho-Sang showed that not only could play in this league, but he could also dominate,” Islanders statistician Eric Hornick said.
Ho-Sang’s Offensive Potential
In a worst-case scenario, Ho-Sang has the potential to score 10-15 goals next season and add 25 helpers. Those numbers are solid if he’s in a third line energy role. Much like a Josh Bailey, he’ll be able to move up and down the top three lines at will. He just won’t play defense like Bailey.
At the same time, at his best, Ho-Sang is a 20-goal, 40-assist player who drives possession. He’ll be a force on the power play and will give the Islanders the type of offense that Kyle Okposo contributed, just minus KO’s snarl and physicality.
Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.