The New York Islanders sent one of their best offensive weapons back down to Bridgeport in what likely foreshadows an end to the Josh Ho-Sang era.
#Isles Transactions: Michael Dal Colle has been changed from emergency conditions recall to regular recall. Josh Ho-Sang has been loaned to Bridgeport.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 8, 2019
The new management in place has done a terrific job thus far of turning the New York Islanders from pretenders to contenders. The results more than speak for themselves, and everything has transitioned seamlessly.
This is their first big blunder.
When the NHL trade deadline came and went on Feb. 25, the decision by Lou Lamoriello was to stand pat.
Citing that the Islanders were in on multiple deals to introduce some kind of offensive jolt, Lamoriello’s decision to stay pat came from market costs being too high.
As Islander fans sat through yet another year of disappointing inactivity on the trade front (as they’ve done for the last decade-plus), the decision was divisive, to say the least.
Whether a team is active or not at the deadline typically translates to who they bring along when the NHL roster expands by a few more slots.
So here is where the Islanders now stand. Michael Dal Colle is blossoming into the offensive threat he was advertised as in 2014, and his draft partner will likely take the John Tavares route this July.
Seasoned Islander fans have seen this script play out before.
For those unfamiliar, in 2010 the Islanders drafted Nino Niederreiter fifth-overall. Niederreiter was advertised as a tenacious goal-scorer and an easy top-six fit for their first-line center.
This was best captured by his 2012-13 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Niederreiter scored 28 goals, 50 points and led the AHL with 230 shots.
In his first nine NHL games with the Islanders, he scored a goal and assist.
As tensions soured the culmination of the Niederreiter saga ended in the summer of 2013.
With the Islanders fresh off of their first post-season appearance in six years, then-GM Garth Snow dealt Niederreiter to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round pick. Josh Ho-Sang’s story is similar, but also uniquely different. For one, Niederreiter didn’t begin his relationship with management by missing the first day of training camp.
He didn’t openly criticize his bosses (even if he was in the right) about his demotion in 2018, but one thing they both share is the under-the-table trade request. When Ho-Sang got his chances with the team, he bounced around the lineup but mostly found himself playing with Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula.
With respect to both players, they’re certainly upgrades over Niederreiter’s linemates, but still not close to the caliber of Ho-Sang talent-wise.
Still, Ho-Sang showed flashes of promise in his time up. In 10 games this season, Ho-Sang maintained a 58.4 percent Corsi rating.
Unsustainable, sure, but through his young career, he still maintains just over 50 percent. For comparison, Mathew Barzal is generating 52 percent Corsi-for this season.
For all of Ho-Sang’s short-comings, whatever they may be at this point, not having him in the lineup is a disservice to the mantra of icing the best-possible lineup.
It’s been evident for nearly the entire season that some kind of notable scoring threat is what’s missing to an otherwise contending roster. It’s now March, and the Islanders are in a heated battle for the Metropolitan division they didn’t expect themselves to be in.
If they’re serious about finishing the job this season, Ho-Sang has to be on the ice. His absence can only signify what seemed like an inevitable end to what will likely be a promising NHL-career for the skilled forward.
Ho-Sang, we hardly knew ya.