The New York Islanders still aren’t sure what they’ll do with their blue line in 2019-20. But being quick to dismiss Thomas Hickey might not be a good idea.
New York Islanders 12th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Noah Dobson is auditioning for a spot on this year’s roster. If he gets it that means one of the Islanders seven defensemen currently under contract will likely have to make way.
It’s possible that the Islanders carry eight defensemen during the season. There isn’t anything stopping them from doing it. But typically teams only carry seven. Six on the game-day roster an extra one for the active roster to cover for injuries.
One of the defensemen likely on the way out is Islanders veteran,
Not So Easy
It sounds like an easy decision to send Thomas Hickey out. He spent most of last season on the sidelines once Devon Toews made an impact on the roster.
But of the Islanders six defensemen to at least play 50 games – so no Devon Toews – Thomas Hickey was the best at defending the blue line.
According to data compiled by Cory Sznajder, Hickey was able to break up an average of 18 percent of zone entries against. Eighteen percent might not sound like a lot but its five percentage points better than both Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield.
(Johnny Boychuk ranked last with a seven percent zone entry break-up percentage.)
Denying entry into the Islanders zone has to be right up there in Barry Trotz’s system. Having a guy that can break up 18 percent of zone entries is a great asset to have. As a seventh defenseman, you can’t go wrong with Thomas Hickey.
That alone won’t be why the Islanders decide to keep him or not. It certainly makes the thought of moving him a little harder. It might even be a better reason to trade him. At 30 years old, Hickey could still help a team that needs some help on their third pair.
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Hickey is well-respected by his teammates and just about anyone that interacts with him. His impact on the ice might not be Norris worthy, but he’s a solid defenseman in the NHL. He might still be the odd man out when a player needs to be moved, but the decision won’t be easy for Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello. Hickey is a professional.