The New York Islanders fourth-round pick from 2016 made quite the impression in the AHL last season and he’s still making an impression.
The best part of this year’s training camp is the competition for spots on the New York Islanders roster. Up and down the lineup players are pushing each other as they compete for spots in 2019-20. One of those players is Otto Koivula.
With 46 points in 69 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, New York Islanders prospect Otto Koivula had himself a head-turning season. And so far in training camp, he’s still turning heads.
Entering training camp there wasn’t a clear path to the NHL for Koivula. He had a good year, but making the NHL roster just wasn’t in the cards. Players like Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang we’re clear favorites to make the team.
He may yet return to the AHL for the 2019-20 season, but so far, Otto Koivula is making it tough on Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz to cut him.
In the Islanders first preseason game on September 16th, Koivula was slotted on the fourth line. Trotz wanted to see how Koivula’s defensive game was. Spending most of the night playing against established NHL vets like James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes, the Isles rookie impressed.
In Koivula’s second preseason game he stood out amongst an NHL heavy roster for the Islanders. He made plays, was strong defensively yet again, and even chipped in with a nice goal in the third period.
The goal all long for Koivula was to make things difficult for the Islanders. He knew it was going to be tough to make the NHL roster, but his job at camp was to get management to acknowledge that he should be closer to the top of the prospect pool.
Mission accomplished so far.
He’s probably going to head back to the AHL at some point during the preseason. Whether that’s in the next round of cuts or just before the regular season starts. But Koivula is making it difficult for the Islanders.
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Players like the aforementioned Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang have to take note and subsequently raise their game. A roster spot is not guaranteed for them. If they can’t match what Koivula is doing he might just find his way to the NHL sooner than later.