The New York Islanders fourth-round pick from the 2016 NHL Draft continues to impress with the Sound Tigers in the AHL.
It wasn’t the best of starts for Otto Koivula, who the New York Islanders had starting his 2018-2019 season in the AHL. It was Koivula’s first time playing in North America, he’s a Finland native, so there was an adjustment period.
Not only was it an adjustment because of the move to the North American game, but also because he changed positions. He was drafted as a left wing just two years ago but now he is playing the center position in the A.
The Islanders lack depth at center and have a boatload of prospects on the wing so the move made sense. In Koivula’s last 19 games, he’s caught fire and is producing on their top line.
Right now, the Islanders have veteran Val Filppula playing that role and playing quite well. He’s on a one-year deal though and would likely require a raise and possibly more term than just one year. Doubling down on Filppula would be a mistake.
He’s been great this year, but a 35-year-old Filppula is likely to regress back to the mean. Koivula has more upside and looks like someone who could potentially produce 35-40 points at the next level while providing responsible play in the bottom six.
If Koivula keeps this up for the rest of the year, you have to give him a crack at the NHL lineup at some point this year and see if he’s worth giving a roster spot to in 2019.
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