New York Islanders pre-season is almost over. For players on PTOs, all of their hard work is coming down to these next few days. Being sidelined with injury is the worst possible outcome of training camp.
Players on PTOs already don’t have a team to play. They’re marauders going to whatever team will have them. If I can be overly dramatic, they’re playing for their hockey futures. Going down with an injury during camp, like New York Islander PTO Stephen Gionta, is the worst possible outcome.
Former New Jersey Devil, Gionta left last night’s game against the New York Rangers with what was described as a lower-body injury. He would not return to the game.
Going down with injury now threatens his entire camp. The Islanders brought him in to evaluate his fit with the franchise, and now he’s missing out on end of the evaluation.
The NHL regulars are starting to fill the pre-season rosters as some of the kids are cut or reassigned. This the time to show what he can do at the NHL level.
Primary Objective: Stay in North America
According to Arthur Staple, Gionta might still be given a two-way deal to stay in Bridgeport.
If that’s indeed true Gionta will have succeeded in his primary objective, stay as close to the top level of the North American game as possible. Obviously, he would have wanted to be in the NHL roster. But the AHL is the next best thing.
The Islanders clearly like what they see in Gionta. They don’t like it enough to give him an NHL deal. But as a guy to round out that 50 man roster he’s exactly what they want.
If Gionta signs that deal he won’t make the leap up to the NHL unless there’s some sort of injury issue in the New York Islanders bottom six. Having a two-way status gives the Islanders that flexibility.
But I still can’t help but feel like a player like Barzal, Beauvillier, Dal Cole, Ho-Sang, whichever one of the that doesn’t make the team, could have done the same, just with a bigger upside.
Why give a spot to a mediocre player at every level (college, AHL, NHL) when the Islanders can prop up some of the elite level prospects?
Those four players are all between the ages of 19 and 20. All have outgrown their junior leagues. A year in the AHL would do them some good. Calling them up to the NHL when the need arises insulates them from a tough NHL season when they aren’t ready. So why encumber these prospects growth needlessly with Gionta? Garth, my assistant awaits your call.