New York Islanders are lucky to have defenseman Thomas Hickey, who could be the most underrated player on the team.
New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow acquired Thomas Hickey as a waiver wire pickup from the Los Angeles Kings in January of 2013, just twelve days before the lockout shortened season began.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Hickey was drafted fourth overall by the Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He played his juniors for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, and spent four years with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, including a 2012 All-Star selection.
The Visnovsky Effect
Hickey spent his first three seasons in the NHL paired with Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky, who was on the way out of his career, but still had enough offensive upside to play third pair minutes for the Islanders.
The biggest benefit of having Visnovsky on the team was how much Thomas Hickey must have learned as his partner.
Hickey plays more of a defensive game than Visnovsky, but he does have offensive potential, as seen with his clutch performances in clinching the playoffs, and winning Game 3 in overtime against the Panthers.
New York Islanders
His career high in points (22) was set in 2013-14, his first non-lockout season of his career. He played all 82 games. The following year he also had 22 points, playing one less game.
In Hickey’s first season without being paired with Visnovsky, Hickey amassed only 17 points in 2015-16, but he missed time to injury playing in only 62 games. This was ahead of his prior pace, showing that Hickey has improved year over year.
He also spent most of last season paired with a rotating cast of Marek Zidlicky and Brian Strait, and in the playoffs it was Ryan Pulock. Hickey also saw occasional ice time with Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk. His ability to play with multiple partners is a great quality for any unplanned absences throughout your d-corps.
Expectations For Hickey
At six feet tall and 184 pounds, Hickey is not the biggest defenseman by any means. The only regular on the Islanders third pair, last season Hickey was fourth among Islanders defenseman in short handed minutes and sees very little time on the power play.
I would expect the same from Hickey this year. I see him best fit to play on the third pair with Ryan Pulock, as his defensive abilities will take responsibility for the offensive risks Pulock will take.
I’d also prefer to keep Leddy and Hamonic together, but if I can’t keep that pair, I’d put Hickey with Hamonic as a second pairing and first pair penalty kill.
Retreating to the previously mentioned statement, his ability to be paired with almost anyone makes constructing the defense pairs much more flexible.
This could also prove difficult for the Islanders as the uncertainty of losing a player in an expansion draft is inevitable. If Hickey can continue to grow his defensive game, and manage 25 points in 2016-17, he very well could be packing his bags for Las Vegas if George McPhee is looking for a top 4 defenseman when he comes to his pick from the Islanders.
Thomas Hickey could very well be the most underrated New York Islander. Hickey will be sure to show fans and critics what he is all about in 2016-17.