New York Islanders defenseman Devon Toews drew praise for his performance against the Dallas Stars on Sunday evening.
Devon Toews took the ice by himself prior to his debut against the Dallas Stars on Sunday, but once the puck dropped, he impressed as a team player.
Toews attempted three shots in 18:05 in the New York Islanders’ 3-1 victory over the Stars. He made a good impression on his teammates and coaches, who were singing his praises following the game.
“Helluva game by Toews today,” said Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, who stopped 19 of 20 shots. “[I was] very impressed by how he played today. He didn’t look nervous or anything. He played his game, he was fast, he made his plays and he was good in our zone.”
With his family in attendance and the Long Island faithful eagerly looking on, Toews showed a maturity level not typically seen from a guy making his National Hockey League debut. This point was not lost on Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, who remarked that Toews “played with a lot of poise” and “wasn’t intimidated if he was out there against the top guys.”
“His skating allows him some separation. He goes back for pucks and can leave people on the net. He makes good plays with the puck and he closes on people because of his skating,” Trotz said.
Since June 2014, when the Islanders selected him in the fourth round of the draft, Toews has been turning heads and convincing observers that he would eventually end up playing at the game’s highest level. But in January 2018, Toews was sidelined for the season with a shoulder injury, meaning that he would have to wait to get his chance.
On Sunday, he finally did.
Skating alongside Luca Sbisa on the team’s third defensive pairing, Toews impressed his teammates not only with his poise, but also with his skating. We noted this in June, during our annual prospect rankings:
Toews was well on his way to a midseason call-up when he suffered a gruesome shoulder injury that sidelined him for the year. The 24-year-old is almost ready for the bright lights of Brooklyn. He is an excellent skater and a capable passer, with a skill set that matches what NHL teams are looking for.
In 2017, Toews won the Fastest Skater competition at the AHL All-Star Classic, with a time of 13.478 seconds.
Toews has tallied five goals and 14 assists in 24 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) this season. The goal is for him never to return to the minor leagues.
“I thought that he was great. I think the way he moved the puck, his poise, the way he was moving his feet and getting up ice — he’s such a threat with his legs, so it’s great to see him, happy for him, and he’s going to have a great career,” said Islanders captain Anders Lee.