New York Islanders bottom-six forward Tom Kuhnhackl has been weaving his way in and out of the lineup ever since he was added to the team. Recently, he has impressed, netting goals in two consecutive contests last week, including the game-winner in a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Eve. In this article, we will list three main reasons why Tom Kuhnhackl deserves a permanent roster spot.
Kuhnhackl was a key contributor in the Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017. Despite a wonderful defensive system and lots of heart, most of the players on the Islanders roster currently don’t have a championship ring, and most have very little playoff experience. In the grand scheme of things, that is definitely important in propelling a deep playoff run.
2. Style of Play
Tom Kuhnhackl brings a lot of energy to the table. He is defensively responsible and forechecks impressively. Even though it may not be noticed, Kuhnhackl creates a lot of offensive opportunities for his linemates when he is on the ice, whether it be by tying a man up in the corner, making a solid play in the defensive zone to move the puck up ice, etc. Being a 200-foot player, especially under Barry Trotz’s system, is extremely beneficial as Kuhnhackl can make a difference no matter where the puck is on the ice.
3. He has a Nose for the Net
Despite only notching 27 career goals thus far, Kuhnhackl’s career has been nullified by injuries, minor league conditioning, and other things of that nature. During his time with the Islanders, he has always seemed to be creating all kinds of offensive opportunities and is in the right place at the right time.
Last season, in the playoffs against Pittsburgh, Kuhnhackl was denied two goals by video review, yet he still was one of the Islanders’ strongest players during the series, and he created a lot of offensive opportunities. Kuhnhackl has a way of sneaking past the defense for high quality opportunities, and that is a skill that should never be put to waste.
200-foot, energizing, offensively producing depth forwards can tend to be a rarity in the National Hockey League. Kuhnhackl has so many traits to his game that others competing for a roster spot may not have, experience in particular. With his defensive stature and ability to slice and dice his way through opposing defenses, Kuhnhackl’s roster spot should not be taken from him unless something drastically changes.