While the New York Islanders are forced to question their future with some of their veteran players, young athletes like Josh Ho Sang, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Ryan Pulock hope to make their own impact on the team.
With several meaningful contracts still in question in the upcoming seasons, New York Islanders fans must look to their young players and prospects to make their mark in the league and on the roster.
All have shown promise in their brief NHL experiences, these rookies have the chance to shape this team for years to come. But as some players inevitably leave the team in free agency, or, hopefully in a trade, it’s these rookies that need to fill the void and try to bring success in years to come.
Josh Ho Sang
It is no secret that Islander fans wanted to see their number 66 on the ice as soon as possible. Having been one of the team’s most promising prospects, Josh Ho Sang’s NHL debut in March of 2017 was a highlight of the season.
Although a narrative of unreliability has followed the 21-year-old since his time in juniors, Ho Sang proved to be as exciting to watch as was expected. Averaging .48 PPG, he tallied 10 points total (4 G, 6 A), although his skill goes beyond just scoring.
Josh Ho Sang’s ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone and move fluidly through it makes him a valuable asset to this New York team that often struggles to complete clean zone entries.
Ho Sang’s skating ability and lively playmaking style makes him a strong candidate to be one of the New York Islanders’ top six forwards in the coming seasons.
Despite Mat Barzal’s own disappointing NHL debut, having only played in two games and tallying no points, the 19-year-old provides a much-needed solution to the problem the New York Islanders face concerning their second line center.
With the absence of Frans Nielsen in the 2016-2017 season, the Islanders struggled to find a stable center for their second line, experimenting with Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Alan Quine and even Anthony Beauvillier. The addition of Mathew Barzal this October could potentially fill that position.
Ending his junior hockey career with an impressive 79 points (10 G, 69 A) on the season and a championship under his belt, Barzal has proved himself ready to play on a professional level and it may be at the exact time that the Islanders need him.
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While coming into the 2016-2017 season, Anthony Beauvillier may not have been the prospect Islander fans were demanding to see, he was certainly one of the most impressive in the preseason, earning himself a roster spot through April.
What the 20-year-old lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and his ability to adapt, having been shuffled from line to line throughout the season, occasionally changing from center to wing.
Earning a total of 24 points (9 G, 15 A) over the course of 66 games, Beauvillier’s rookie season proved to be fairly successful despite being underutilized by former head coach, Jack Capuano. With new coaching, Beauvillier should certainly take this as an opportunity to truly come into his own, hopefully avoiding the fabled sophomore slump.
It would seem hard to forget Ryan Pulock’s electrifying goal in Game 3 of the 2015-2016 playoffs. The young defenseman cut the Florida Panthers’ lead in half and began the Islanders’ comeback that would lead to an eventual victory, keeping fans hopes alive. However, the prospect seems to be slipping into the back of management’s mind.
Having only played one game in the 2016-2017 season before succumbing to injury, Ryan Pulock appears to be falling through the cracks of the New York Islanders’ system. Spending the rest of his year as alternate captain of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Pulock earned a total of 46 points (15 G, 31 A) over 55 games.
Despite his impressive stint in the AHL and proven ability at the NHL level, Pulock remained on the Sound Tigers until the end of the season, leaving many fans to question where he was and to even campaign for his return, using the hashtag #FreePulock on Twitter.
However, this may be the 22-year-old’s chance to prove himself. Having lost long-tenured defenseman Travis Hamonic this offseason, the Islanders are in need of a fresh face on their blue line.
Although Ryan Pulock’s name does not appear on the list of those participating in Islanders Rookie Camp this September, Arthur Staple was quick to explain that this may not mean that fans’ campaigning has come to an end:
While this leaves us with a renewed uncertainty about where the defenseman will be beginning his new season, the fact still remains that the New York Islanders may need him. With a new head coach behind the bench and fresh season on the rise, Pulock may finally have the chance to really show the impact he could have.
Although Barzal, Beauvillier and Ho Sang are no Matthews, Marner and Nylander, it is clear that the NHL is going the way of the rookie. Talented young players dominate hockey headlines and it is becoming clear that a model that evenly mixes veterans and fresh faces is proving successful. This coming season, it would be smart of the Islanders to change their ways and give the kids the chance they deserve.