The New York Islanders recalled defenseman Devon Toews and forward Michael Dal Colle from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers today. That should be the last time Toews returns to the AHL.
Both were in the team covering for injuries before the break, and with Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd not back to full strength the two were still needed.
Once Andrew Ladd is back and skating you have to think that Michael Dal Colle will make way for the two-time Stanley Cup champion. But when Hickey comes back I doubt that Devon Toews returns to the AHL like Dal Colle. Toews has proven that he belongs in the NHL.
Through his first 15 games with the Islanders Devon Toews has fit the part of an NHL player perfectly. He’s poised, responsible, and just does the simple things well. He’s slotted in seamlessly with Scott Mayfield and has given Barry Trotz three solid pairings to play.
In speaking to The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required), Barry Trotz indicated that he has three pairs of defensemen that can be the teams top pair on any given night.
"“We wanted to bring (Toews) up slowly, see what his game has matured into so we slotted him into that third pair. Really our pairs are pretty even most nights. We don’t have to deviate from our pairs because any night one of our pairs can better than the others.” -Barry Trotz"
So when Thomas Hickey inevitably comes back, Lou Lamoriello (and Barry Trotz) is going to have a decision to make. Who of their then eight defensemen is going to have to make way?
Devon Toews is the last man in, typically that means he’s the first man out. But with the way he’s been playing the New York Islanders would be committing a terrible mistake by sending him back to the AHL.
Toews gives them a great option to move the puck out of the zone and is a consistent offensive threat along with being able to play a solid defensive game. Through 15 games he has five points to his name. Over the course of a full season that’s a 27 point pace.
Lou has previously indicated that he has to honor NHL contracts. It’s the reason Devon Toews was sent to the AHL at the start of the season after an impressive training camp. But in this scenario, Lou has to break that rule. He has to do something with Luca Sbisa.
When Hickey eventually returns Lou has to put Sbisa on waivers. Since being signed to a single year $1.5 million deal he’s played a total of nine games. They clearly don’t trust Sbisa enough to play him.
The Islanders pairings would balance out to:
Thomas Hickey is a much better option for the New York Islanders than Adam Pelech. While Pelech’s game seems to have stabilized recently it’s by no means good enough to force Devon Toews off of the roster.
Devon Toews is a better player. He belongs in the NHL. And it only took 15 games for him to prove it.
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Now that he’s back with the New York Islanders, Devon Toews should feel confident enough to know that his most recent trip to the AHL was his last.