New York Islanders: Otto Koivula Can Be Future Bottom Six Center
New York Islanders prospect Otto Koivula has been heating up in the AHL. He seems like a perfect fit to the Isles bottom six for next year.
When the New York Islanders selected Otto Koivula in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, there wasn’t much expectation surrounding him. We knew he was a native of Finland, and he was going to be playing hockey for SM-Liiga, that’s pretty much it.
The chances of him not only coming over to the US but coming over and becoming a part of the future plans were slim, but credit to Koivula he’s been pretty good the last few years.
After being drafted he had a 30 point season as an 18-year old scoring 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 50 games. His play yielded him Liiga’s rookie of the year award, and that’s when he began to be on the prospect radar.
In March of this year, Koivula signed an ELC and decided to come over to play in the AHL for the 2018-2019 season. It was a smart choice because he’s played well, especially lately for the Sound Tigers.
This weekend, Otto Koivula scored his fourth goal in the Sound Tigers last three games. He now has 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 22 games as the top line center for Bridgeport.
I’m not sure if I’m 100 percent sold on him being able to produce at the NHL level at over a half a point per game pace like he is now, but I am sold on him being able to be a quality bottom six center.
He’s a big kid at six-foot-one and 190 pounds. He’s not afraid to throw the body around, he’s a good puck handler and he has the potential to put one in the back of the net every once in a while.
Yes, the Islanders have gotten good play out of Valtteri Filppula this season, but are you going to double down on a 35-year-old? I think you’re better off thanking Filppula for overachieving, let some team pay him $3 million a year and bring up Koivula who will cost under $1 million.
A third line of Beauvillier – Koivula – Ladd/Komarov might not be the worst thing in the world for next year. In a cap league, sometimes it makes sense to go with a cheaper option over an aging expensive veteran. At 21 next year, I like Koivula’s potential and think he should be in the mix for the role.