Lou Lamoriello is one step closer to figuring out the opening-night roster for the 2019-20 New York Islanders.With just a few days left to finalize the NHL roster, Lou Lamoriello revealed three names hitting the waiver wire.
Tanner Fritz, Josh Ho-Sang and Thomas Hickey will all play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers if they first clear waivers.
Hickey is 10th all time among #Isles D with 449 games played. As loyal a guy as there is. Tough spot for him with this year and two more at $2.5m AAV.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) September 30, 2019
For Fritz, it seemed likely that Bridgeport would be the final destination the entire time. Having played in 42 career NHL games over the last two seasons gave the Islanders a good enough look at what Fritz brings to the lineup.
His ice time last season was cut short due to a blood clot suffered just four games into his recall for the injured Valtteri Filppula.
The intriguing member joining the kids on the Sound Tigers is veteran of 449 NHL games with the Islanders, Thomas Hickey.
Last season, a concussion limited Hickey to 32 games in mid-December. The Islanders recalled Devon Toews a day or so after the injury, effectively sealing Hickey’s fate as a seventh-eighth defenseman on the Isles’ depth chart.
Though he’d return in time for the late stretch last season and through the playoffs, he never recovered the footing he started the season on.
Enter Noah Dobson
With every door that closes, another opens, and Hickey’s departure signifies that Noah Dobson may have indeed won himself a spot on the NHL roster.
Drafted 12th overall by the Islanders in 2018, Dobson played the last two seasons in the QMJHL for Acadie-Bathurst Titan from 2016-18 scoring 24 goals and 95 points in 130 games.
After winning the Memorial Cup with Acadie-Bathurst Titan, he was traded to Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, where he tallied 36 points in 28 games and led them to a Memorial Cup of their own, his second-consecutive.
Since he’s only 19-years-old, he is not AHL-eligible for one more year and needs to make a jump for his development. In four preseason games, Dobson has two assists and is a plus-five.
Hickey’s departure clears the way for both Toews and Dobson to make an impact in their first full NHL seasons.
The Last of Ho-Sang?
Topping off the three talents heading to the AHL is Josh Ho-Sang, who seems to have lost the battle to Michael Dal Colle for the last roster spot.
Since being called up by the Islanders at the tail-end of the 2016-17 playoff push, Ho-Sang has not been able to get out of his own way.
A respectable 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his first 21 NHL games earned him a spot to start the 2017-18 season. After a 22-game stay, the Islanders decided they’d seen enough and sent Ho-Sang to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, citing his defensive game needs to improve.
This prompted a controversial interview between Ho-Sang and Arthur Staple of The Athletic which was critical of the present staff. The Isles at that time were icing the most porous NHL defense in the last decade.
Once Lamoriello and Barry Trotz stepped into the organization, it was understood there would be a clean slate for all personnel, most notably Ho-Sang.
Even though all the praise for Ho-Sang through the last two years, Lamoriello concluded again that there was no room for him on the Island.
Andrew Gross of Newsday asked Lamoriello about Ho-Sang’s demotion:
“He came in and did everything that you could ask of a player to try and win a spot,” Lamoriello said. “In my opinion, he was given every opportunity and it just did not work out and you have to make a decision.”
At this point in his career, and given his new one-year, $875,000 contract, he will have to pass through waivers and might find himself on another team, just like that.
What becomes of these players remains to be seen, but there’s an excellent chance two may have skated in their final games as members of the Islanders.