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New York Islanders Some Veterans Need to Make Way for Youth

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Johnny Boychuk #55 of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal during the game against the St. Louis Blues at the Barclays Center on January 15, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Blues 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Johnny Boychuk #55 of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal during the game against the St. Louis Blues at the Barclays Center on January 15, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Blues 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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There are spots on the roster for some of the New York Islanders prospects in 2019-20. It seems we might have Barry Trotz to thank for that.

The start of the 2018-19 season was tough for New York Islanders prospects. All of Devon Toews, Joshua Ho-Sang, Michael Dal Colle, and Kieffer Bellows were cut from camp.

While they didn’t all play well during camp, some did. Devon Toews had a good camp after coming back from injury. And we already knew that Toews had outgrown the AHL. But back to the Sound Tigers, he went. Same for Ho-Sang.

GM Lou Lamoriello reasoned that there were just had too many NHL contracts on the roster. On that point, Lou was the one who added NHL contracts like Tom Kuhnhackl, Leo Komarov, Valtteri Filppula, and Matt Martin in the offseason. So really, Lou put himself in that pickle.

Hopefully, this year Barry Trotz can whisper exactly what he told NHL.com’s Bryan Compton about roster spots and youth. Because it’s time for some vets to sit out for some of the Isles youth.

Some Spots

On Tuesday, Compton caught up with the New York Islanders coach and asked him about Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang. That’s when Trotz dropped this truth bomb:

"One of the things you don’t want to do is always fill your spots and not allow potential guys to grow. Right now, there’s some spots open."

Of course!

Any team needs to have room to grow. The talent within the organization – talent the team picked themselves at some point via the draft – needs to have a way up into the roster.

Any competitive team is built through the draft. Bill Torrey knew that in 1972. You can look up to the rafters of the Nassau Coliseum to see how that particular strategy turned out.

I know we’re still hoping a trade happens for proven top-six talent. But the Islanders can still bring in a top-six winger and fill in spots on this roster with youth. That third line is primed for young talent.

If the Islanders fill those spots with prospects it likely means that a guy like Leo Komarov sits in favor of a Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang. On defense, it might mean that Thomas Hickey gets traded and Johnny Boychuk has to sit in order to get Noah Dobson on the roster.

It’s a difficult decision to make, but it’s the type of decision that needs to be made at some point.

Barely Replacement Level

Let’s look at this objectively for a second. Dropping Leo Komarov, Thomas Hickey, and Johnny Boychuk isn’t a bad thing for the New York Islanders.

Only Leo Komarov had a positive WAR number. Although to be fair that positive number was 0.4. That means all three either bring fewer wins than a replacement-level player or barely a win more than a replacement-level player.

(Boychuk was a -0.4. Hickey was a -0.2. Stats thanks to Evolving-Hockey.com)

A replacement-level player is just anyone from the AHL level. Any readily available player, put him in the roster instead of the three Islanders players I just named and they could technically bring more wins.

But the Islanders aren’t just putting in any player. They could potentially add a two-time Memorial Cup-winning defenseman (Noah Dobson), a point-per-game player at the AHL level (Michael Dal Colle), and an electric playmaking winger who’s already shown he’s at least a half-point-per-game player at the NHL level (Josh Ho-Sang).

These aren’t replacement-level players. They’re much better.

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Take those open spots on the roster and fill them with prospects from within the system. Like Barry Trotz said, “ill your spots and not allow potential guys to grow”. It’s time.

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