It was a year full of bad luck for Shane Prince and now his future with the New York Islanders might be in jeopardy.
Prince had a decent start to his first NHL season, scoring three goals and 12 points in 42 games, but wasn’t getting the significant ice-time he deserved in Ottawa and so the team flipped him to Brooklyn on Feb. 29, 2016.
When he came to the Islanders, Prince became the player that Ottawa thought he could eventually become as he scored just as many goals as he did with the Senators but in 22 fewer games.
In the playoffs, Prince scored another three goals including two in the Isles’ lone second-round victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. His speedy yet gritty game earned the pending restricted free agent a two-year, one-way contract extension.
In his first full season with the team, Prince provided five goals and 18 points in 50 games. However, 13 of those points came in the first 29 games while he only managed to put up five in the other 21.
During the season, Prince had ongoing problems with a high ankle sprain in which he had tried to play through. In mid-August, it was announced that issue had been addressed via surgery and that Prince would miss 4-6 months.
After a brief, four-game conditioning stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in which he recorded two assists, the 25-year-old made his season debut on Dec. 21. 11 games into his return, the injury bug hit Prince once again as he suffered an upper-body injury and left a game against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 16 early.
Prince was in the lineup for the team’s next game against the Boston Bruins but after that, he was shut down until April 5. By then, there were only two games left in the season and being held scoreless in both of them, Prince finished off his season with 14 games played, one goal, and one assist.
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Prince’s best game of the season was on Jan. 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers in which he recorded his first point and lone assist of the season as well as a fighting major. What caused the fight started with a strong shift from Prince. Circling in his own zone, Prince effectively moved the puck up-ice, just out of the reach of Tanner Fritz but after playing the puck off his stick Prince fell victim to a relatively late hit by Travis Konecny. In an effort to stick up for himself, Prince immediately got up and skated towards Konecny who accepted the challenged.
The assist came as a result of Cal Clutterbuck’s second goal of the game as Prince took a pass from Dennis Seidenberg, entered the offensive zone, and got a shot off from between the top of the face-off circles. The shot was stopped by Flyers’ goaltender Brian Elliott but crashing the net, Clutterbuck was able to put the rebound home to cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-2 in what turned out to be a 6-4 loss.
His one goal came on a breakaway against the New York Rangers on Jan. 11. The play all started in the defensive zone when Scott Mayfield chipped the puck up-ice past a pinching Brady Skjei and that left Prince unguarded in the neutral zone. The puck slowly bounced to him but when it finally got to him he took off down the right-wing. Already with a step on Kevin Shattenkirk, he beat goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stick-side to give the Isles a 2-1 lead in an eventual 7-2 win.
Prince will once again be a restricted free agent this summer but this time around, things feel a little bit different. There is no doubt that Prince is capable of playing at the NHL level but the question prevails, will that be for the Islanders?
It was an unlucky season for Prince but either way, two points in 14 games isn’t all that impressive; If he would have played a full 82 game season at that pace, his numbers would be equivalent to just under 12 points.
With Lou Lamoriello—the newly named president of hockey operations—in charge, things will be different. There will be accountability and just because you played in the NHL last season doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to play in it the following season.
That is something Lamoriello and the Isles’ management will have to address this offseason as Prince is in need of a new contract.