The New York Islanders are on a roll. Since December rolled around, they have not only the best record in the NHL, but much more than that. They have resurrected the career of Robin Lehner, who is now a Vezina and Masterson candidate, they are playing great defense under Barry Trotz’s system, and the best part of all…
They’re first in the Metropolitan Division, ahead of cup contenders like the Capitals and Penguins… and the Maple Leafs. (WE DON’T NEED HIM!)
There are many trade rumors surfacing around the NHL, including the Islanders scouting the San Jose Sharks two weeks in a row, the possibility that the Senators trade Ryan Dzingel and/or Matt Duchene, Gustav Nyquist for a first round pick (Detroit, are you okay?), and the inevitable Ducks and Oilers teardowns. The Islanders should not only focus on the trade market, which could definitely be of help, but also consider taking advantage of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Sound Tigers are currently fourth in the American Hockey League, but second in the Atlantic Division behind the AHL-leading Charlotte Checkers. We’ve already seen players like Michael Dal Colle, Joshua Ho-Sang and Devon Toews make an impact at the NHL level this season, but here are three more players that could make an impact at some point this season.
Before we talk about them, there are three honorable mentions that are NHL-caliber players, but not ideal pieces to have in the lineup. They are Steve Bernier, Mitch Vande Sompel and Tanner Fritz. Joshua Ho-Sang has been excluded from the list since he has already been up with the Islanders this season.
There isn’t much more to say about Koivula than what I mentioned in my article about his recent surge to the top-six of Bridgeport’s lineup and legit prospect status. He currently has 13 goals and 26 points this season, third on the Sound Tigers and 11th for all AHL rookies. If he doesn’t end up making his NHL debut this season, look for him to compete for a roster spot going into next year.
Another familiar face to Islanders fans, Sebastian Aho was on the Islanders for 22 games last season, scoring a goal and tallying three assists with a minus-five. This season, Aho is getting much more ice time and is proving that he deserves it. The 2019 AHL All-Star has three goals and 25 points with a minus-two in 35 games this season with the Sound Tigers. When Thomas Hickey comes back from his injury, it is most likely they could waive Ross Johnston or Luca Sbisa, but towards the end of the season when some extra offense is needed on the blueline, Aho could be an option for the Islanders.
Travis St. Denis
Last May, Travis St. Denis signed his first NHL contract — a two-year, two-way deal with the Islanders after two successful seasons with Bridgeport. He hasn’t slowed down this season, scoring ten goals and adding 15 assists for 25 points and a minus-three in 44 games. With St. Denis, he might be lower on the list of potential call-ups, probably behind Ho-Sang, Fritz, Bernier, and Koivula.
The Islanders are on a roll since December hit, and they are not going to stop. With a three-point lead heading into the All-Star Break, the Islanders will not only look at the trade market, but also from within the system to help improve the team.