On Wednesday, the New York Islanders called up Otto Koivula up to the NHL. On Sunday they sent him back down to the AHL.
With injuries and illnesses piling up for the New York Islanders, they turned to the NHL to stock their NHL roster. With Oliver Wahlstrom and Cole Bardreau already up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, they added Otto Koivula to the roster on Wednesday.
The former fourth overall pick in 2016, Koivula has impressed since turning pro last season. He had 46 points in 69 games last season and has two points in six games so far this season.
With all the players on IR or out with illness, we thought Koivula would get a chance to play. But the Islanders decided to keep him on the scratchpad and have now sent him back to the AHL.
Couldn’t Find Way, Yet
It was always going to be difficult for Otto Koivula to find a spot on the roster, even with a number of players out with some sort of issue.
The second line of Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and Derick Brassard was providing important contributions defensively and offensively. Brassard was, at the time, on a three-game – it’s now a five-game goal streak – goal streak while Beau was finally that consistent top-six winger the Islanders have been dying for him to be for the last four years.
And the third line with Casey Cizikas as the center was exactly what you’d expect a line with Casey Cizikas at its heart to be. That left the Islanders fourth line centered by Cole Bardreau that was possibly up for Otto Koivula to grab.
The 26-year-old Bardreau got the nod over Koivula. Trotz clearly prefers what Bardreau can give to the team with limited minutes. Since making his NHL debut, Trotz has had nothing but good things to say about Bardreau’s play.
"“The big thing about Cole is that gives you a sense that you can trust him,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s got a little bit of bit[e] to his game. He airs on the edge a little bit.”"
Finding a place was going to be difficult for a player that hasn’t yet earned the coach’s trust like Otto Koivula. Add a seven-game winning streak going and there was no reason to put Koivula on the ice.
Now, as players start coming back Koivula’s chance of making the roster is even slimmer and with the Sound Tigers going through a losing funk it makes sense to send Koivula back where he can get some game time.
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Koivula’s short NHL adventure is by no means a failure. It’s more bad timing than anything else. If he’s the same player we saw in the AHL in 2018-19 he’ll certainly get another opportunity at the NHL level at some point this season.