Islanders: Curious case of Josh Ho-Sang filing for arbitration

New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang (66) (Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang (66) (Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) /

For some reason, New York Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang has elected for salary arbitration with the Islanders. I tried to figure out why and I sincerely don’t know.

Why? That’s the question everyone, including the New York Islanders, asked when they saw Josh Ho-Sang had filed for arbitration. It seemed like a no-brainer that Josh Ho-Sang would sign his qualifying offer and the two sides could either remediate their relationship or focus on moving Ho-Sang.

Why go through an arbitration hearing exactly? Everyone, including Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello, was surprised that Ho-Sang filed for arbitration with the Isles.

What does Ho-Sang have to gain by going through arbitration rather than signing his qualifying offer? To try and figure it out I tried to build an arbitration case for Ho-sang by trying to see who are his comparable, what they got, and what else might be motivating him to file?


In building any arbitration case the player (and more specifically his representatives) will build a list of comparable players. These players should be fairly similar in experience, production, usage, and age.

Finding comparable players for Josh Ho-Sang was difficult. He’s without question a unique player. He has little experience (53 NHL GP), he’s fairly productive (0.452 Pts/GP), and gets decent ice time (15:11 ATOI). There are very few players that check all the same boxes.

Kailer Yamamoto was a good candidate but he still has a year left on his ELC, the point of finding a comparable player is to figure out what they got paid and argue that you (Ho-Sang) should get the same or maybe more. Yamamoto has yet to be paid after his ELC so he’s not a good comparable.

Here’s what I looked for:

  • Played between 50-60 NHL games
  • Played between 2014-15 and 2019-20
  • Is a forward
  • Is between 23-25 years old

Here are the best fits that I could find:

*All data from Hockey-Reference

You can see none of those players are perfect comparables for Josh Ho-Sang. All of them have recently signed a new deal. Here’s what they got and for how long:

*All salary data from CapFriendly.

Just keep in mind that Josh Ho-Sang’s qualifying offer from the New York Islanders would have been for $917,831. Ho-Sang could certainly argue that he’s a better player than Carter Verhaeghe who’s played way less (on average) and is about half as productive as Ho-Sang.

To be fair to Verhaeghe, he’s proven that he’s a good depth player or fourth-line winger. Josh Ho-Sang, sadly, hasn’t proven anything yet. Getting a payday is hard to do when you haven’t proven you’re worth anything.

So Why?

At first, I figured this could be Josh Ho-Sang and his representation trying to get out from under the New York Islanders. Ho-Sang isn’t getting NHL playing time and they’ve wanted a trade for some time now. They must have been hoping the Isles wouldn’t submit a qualifying offer so Ho-Sang could walk as a free agent just as Linus Soderstrom did.

That didn’t happen, so perhaps pushing for a deal through arbitration and then having the Isles walk could get Ho-Sang to free agency.

Except, that can’t happen for Ho-Sang in arbitration. The Islanders can only walk away from an arbitrator-decided deal if it exceeds $4.5 million. That high price tag just isn’t possible for someone in Josh Ho-Sang’s position.

Then I thought he might be looking for that second year that players can get in arbitration. Except, no, that can’t happen. That decision belongs to the team because Ho-Sang filed for arbitration. Here’s the clause in the CBA that states it’s up to the team to decide the length of the arbitration deal (Article 12.9 (c)):

"The party against whom a salary arbitration election was filed (i.e., the Club in Player-elected salary arbitration and the Player in Club-elected salary arbitration) shall elect in its brief whether the salary arbitration award shall be for a one or two-year SPC"

I don’t see why the Islanders would go for a two-year award if they were hoping he’d sign his one-year qualifying offer. It just doesn’t fit.

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So why elect for salary arbitration? A $917,831 qualifying offer is a pretty good deal for someone who played 22 AHL games last season. I’m at a loss for words. Clearly, Ho-Sang thinks he can get more than his qualifying offer or secure a larger payday in the minors than his $70,000 from last year. And maybe that’s it.

Clearly, Josh Ho-Sang and his agent Patrick Bedell feel there’s an advantage to go through arbitration. I must be missing something because I don’t see it.

Ho-Sang’s case is set to be heard by an arbitrator by October 30. We’ll know the verdict 48 hours later. Unless the two sides come to an agreement before then.