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Editorials

New York Islanders 2018-19 Season Review and Player Grade: Devon Toews

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Devon Toews #25 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Devon Toews #25 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders fourth-round pick from the 2014 draft, Devon Toews, finally made the NHL. He took his opportunity and ran with it.

He stepped into the lineup to cover an injured blue line and never looked back. When the New York Islanders called up Devon Toews to the NHL this season we didn’t know how long it would last. We knew he was good, we knew he belonged, but once the injuries were healed, would the team return him to the AHL?

As the season progressed though it became clear that there was no way the Islanders could justify sending him back to the AHL. What was clear to the fan base became clear to management, Devon Toews was too good to keep in the AHL.

By the end of the season not only did Devon Toews force his way into the lineup, but he also forced his way onto the Islanders first power play unit in favor of

Nick Leddy

.

Stepping In and Taking Over

On December 19th, 2018, the New York Islanders called up Devon Toews from the AHL after an injury to Thomas Hickey.

It was his first taste of the NHL after being selected 108th overall in 2014. He had to wait a long time to get to the NHL but now that he was here he was going to take full advantage.

It took him five games to record his first career NHL goal. It was an overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks and that other Toews.

To be one of three players in overtime in your fifth NHL game is a testament to the trust that Barry Trotz had in Devon Toews. Throughout the season Toews would continue to get increased responsibility and he’d continue to crush it.

By March 11th, Toews’ replaced Nick Leddy as the sole defender on the Islanders first power play unit. SInce 2014, Nick Leddy has been on the Isles first power play unit. Since 2014, Leddy has been the defenceman coaches relied on to (1) get the puck up the ice and (2) quarterback the attack. Not anymore.

His smooth skating, puck control, vision, and sense of when to pinch and when to stay back made him one of the Islanders better defenders this season. And it was his first NHL season.

Grade

It’s hard not to give Devon Toews an A. Again, we knew he was a good player, but we didn’t know he was good enough to immediately become one of the Isles best offensive and defensive defenceman, and had the ability to make Nick Leddy expendable.

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Devon Toews was finally given a long overdue opportunity in the NHL and he took it and made the best of it.

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