Islanders: Canceled AHL season means expanded rosters

Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With the 2019-20 AHL season canceled, what will happen to some of the New York Islanders top-tier prospects? Is their season over? Probably not.

On Monday, the AHL announced that the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs would be canceled. With 63 games played, the New York Islanders AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sounds Tigers will not complete their 2019-20 season.

Outside of getting some key prospects a few more games under their belts, the continuation of the 2019-20 season didn’t mean much for the Sound Tigers. With a 23-33-5-2 record and 53 points, the Sound Tigers were last in the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and 29th in the league. There wasn’t going to be any playoff hockey for the Sound Tigers in 19-20.

While this announcement puts an end to the 2019-20 AHL season, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the season for players in the Islanders system.

Expanded Rosters

On Saturday, Newsday indicated that the NHL has narrowed down its sights on two possibilities to continue the 2019-20 NHL season. It’s either a 16 or 24 team tournament. In either scenario, it seems that the New York Islanders would make the cut and play some form of post-season.

Today, Pierre LeBrun confirmed what had previously only been rumored. NHL rosters will be expanded to 30 teams under any re-start scenario.

You’d have to think for the New York Islanders that some of their top-end prospects might come along for the ride. Even if they don’t end up playing, being with the team during this run would be an invaluable experience in their development.

Obviously there are going to be some questions to expanded rosters. After the trade deadline, teams are limited to four AHL call-ups. If rosters are expanded would there be a limit of call-ups? You’d have to imagine that limit would have to shift to accommodate another seven players being added to the active roster.

There’s also the question of keeping everyone safe and virus free. Expanded rosters mean more players in shared environments. Does the NHL have the proper testing or enough tests? Can they isolate players in order to stop the spread?

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What is clear, is that if the NHL comes back we’ll likely still see the likes of Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Sebastian Aho in 2019-20.