With the New York Islanders brought a wealth of NHL experience to training camp this season, general manager Lou Lamoriello was left with some tough decisions as opening night approaches.
The Islanders placed three players on waivers in Josh Ho-Sang, Thomas Hickey, and Tanner Fritz. All these players and their contracts are made available to all the other NHL clubs. If they are not claimed, they will be outrighted to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.
It has been anything but smooth since Ho-Sang was drafted by the Islanders. He played much of his career thus far in the minors and has not impressed the coaching staff enough to stick with the big team. A few seasons ago, he overslept in training camp and then did not practice with the team. He also felt the team wasburying him in the minors.
While he only played in 10 games last season, the Islanders went 9-1. He has 7 career goals in 53 games with 17 assists. Ho-Sang got a good look during the preseason, playing with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. He appeared on the power play as well, but struggled with turnovers.
It would not be a surprise to see someone take a risk on Ho-Sang. He has tons of skill, but just hasn’t proven it yet. Perhaps a change of scenery could be just what Ho-Sang needs. He has the potential to be a top-six forward in the league. He has played with Connor McDavid for the Toronto Marlboros and could be an option for the Edmonton Oilers.
If it is the end for Hickey, it was a real special tenure with the Islanders. A former first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings came to New York through waivers. He had some memorable goals for the Islanders, especially in overtime. He has scored 23 career goals, with 6 of them coming in the extra time, including the game-winning goal in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Florida Panthers in Game 3.
There really wasn’t much for Hickey to do to make the roster and play every night. The Islanders already have seven defensemen all with NHL experience breaking camp with them. He would likely have been the eighth. If it wasn’t for an injury that he suffered last season, he may have never come out of the lineup.
However, the Islanders recalled their young defenseman in Devon Toews, one of the top young defensemen in the league. While Hickey can definitely find a team to play for, he is under contract until the 2021-22 season after signing a four-year contract worth $2.5 million a year not too long ago. It’s hard to say if a team would take on a contract like that unless they are desperate.
While Fritz worked really hard to come back from a blood clot in his hand last season, he was unable to make the team. He has shown to be a productive player, as he has really tried to improve his defensive game.
Fritz was undrafted and played college hockey at Ohio State much like Mason Jobst, who Islanders’ fans saw a lot of these past few weeks. He scored three goals last season in the NHL before missing time with injury. When he played in the AHL, he was much more of a goal scorer as he netted 12 in 57 games.
The Islanders can hope Fritz doesn’t get picked up, as he can be an extra forward in Bridgeport that can be called up in case of an injury.
Forwards: Anders Lee, Mat Barzal, Jordan Eberle, Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Michael Dal-Colle, Derick Brassard, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Tom Kuhnhackl, Ross Johnston
Defensemen: Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, Devon Toews, Noah Dobson, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock
Goaltenders: Semyon Varlamov, Thomas Greiss