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New York Islanders Send Casey Cizikas to IR, Recall Ross Johnston

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders leaves the ice following a first period injury against the Washington Capitals at the Barclays Center on December 13, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders leaves the ice following a first period injury against the Washington Capitals at the Barclays Center on December 13, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders made a roster move this morning, sending Casey Cizikas to the IR and recalling Ross Johnston from Bridgeport. Apparently, Cizikas’ injury will be keeping him out for a few games at least.

News broke this morning that the New York Islanders have moved Casey Cizikas to injured reserve. The Islanders have recalled Ross Johnston from Bridgeport as his roster replacement. Cizikas’ injury was initially thought to be minor. The Islanders were hoping he would be only briefly sidelined. Clearly, that’s not the case.

Cizikas injured what appeared to be his right hand in the game against the New York Rangers last Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The injury is officially listed as an “upper-body injury”. Cizikas would be eligible to return on Monday when the Islanders head to Phoenix to play the Arizona Coyotes.

Why didn’t the New York Islanders call up Josh Ho-Sang?

Calling up Ross Johnston as Cizikas’ replacement has left fans puzzled, to say the least. Most have been clamoring for Joshua Ho-Sang to be recalled. After the public condemning of Ho-Sang as being immature and not ready for the next level, the New York Islanders really couldn’t have even considered bringing him up.

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If the Islanders went back on their declaration of Ho-Sang being unfit to showcase his skills at the NHL level, because of his attitude no less, it would likely result in even more trouble for a GM already on the hot seat. Ross Johnston didn’t necessarily have to be the player called up by Garth Snow, but Josh Ho-Sang absolutely could not be the guy tabbed.

On the other hand, calling up Johnston instead of making a more significant move (like making a trade or a waiver wire pickup) could be viewed as a sign that this team may be giving up on the season. That most likely isn’t the case, as the New York Islanders are currently only three points out of the final playoff spot.

Who is Ross Johnston?

Ross Johnston signed an entry-level contract with the New York Islanders in March 2015. In three-plus seasons with Bridgeport, Johnston has been more of an enforcer than anything else. Over the course of 140 games played in Bridgeport, Johnston has 12 goals, 18 assists, a -16 rating, and 327 penalty minutes assessed.

In the past two seasons, it seems Johnston has made the leap from an offensively-minded prospect into a future tough guy. After logging 79 penalty minutes in 39 games in his first season in Bridgeport (2015-16), he jumped up to 135 the following year (67 games played). In only 37 games this season, Johnston already has 113 penalty minutes.

Next: Remember, Isles Rookies Are Still Just Rookies

It’s obvious this move was made to replace the fiery Casey Cizikias with a younger, tougher reinforcement. Whether Ross Johnston turns out to be what the New York Islanders truly need at this point remains to be seen. The Islanders are hoping Johnston’s presence will bring an added dynamic to an Isles team lacking in the enforcement department.

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