The New York Islanders announced today that they have called up Bracken Kearns from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers as two Islanders forwards go down with injury against Detroit.
New York Islanders forwards Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas both left last night’s game in Detroit with injury. Leaving the Islanders forward core down a man. Naturally, the Isles turned to 35-year-old Bracken Kearns from Bridgeport to fill the void.
I say naturally for a few reasons. The most obvious is the type of player Bracken Kearns is and who he’ll be replacing. Both Clutterbuck and Cizikas fill the Islanders fourth line with toughness, grit, and some secondary scoring.
For all of his strengths, Bracken Kearns is not the type of finesse player that NHL teams build around. He’s a perfect complementary piece that will serve a unique purpose with his toughness, grit, and some secondary scoring. See what I did there?
Like Arthur Staple wrote earlier today on twitter. The move to bring in Kearns over someone with more finesse like Joshua Ho-sang just makes sense.
And Arthur Staple is absolutely right. When your fourth line has holes you bring in fourth line players. And that’s no knock on Kearns. The Isles fourth line isn’t a bunch of goons on skates.
With the departure of Islanders fourth line fixture Matt Martin to free agency in the offseason, the Isles have turned to the trio of Nikolai Kulemin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck to do just about everything.
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They kill penalties, they establish offensive zone pressure with an aggressive forecheck. They establish a physical presence on the ice. And provide some nice complimentary scoring with 56 points between the three this season.
Bracken Kearns has deserved this call-up. With 40 points in 51 games, Kearns leads the Sound Tigers in scoring by seven points on the aforementioned Ho-Sang. And is one of the big factors that the Sound Tigers have won 16 of their last 17 games.
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Lest we forget that just a few weeks ago Joshua Ho-Sang was being benched and scratched for his behavior, again. This uptick in his form is very much recent.
If a player in the Islanders top nine go out with injury, the first name I’d expect to hear is Ho-Sang’s. There, he’d have a real chance to make a real offensive impact. Where his skill set would be best put to use for the good of the team and for his own development.
Hopefully, the injury to either Clutterbuck of Cizikas is serious and that both can recover quickly. But in their place is a very capable player in Bracken Kearns.