What can we expect from Josh Ho-Sang in 2020-21 as he tries yet again to break into the New York Islanders squad? What does success look like for Ho-Sang?
Josh Ho-Sang wants to “give everything he has to earn a spot in the NHL”, his agent told the NY Post after the New York Islanders and the forward agreed to a single year deal days before heading to arbitration on October 30.
Seeing the Josh Ho-Sang/New York Islanders relationship continue another year is a surprising development. I don’t think I’m the only one who thought the Islanders wouldn’t tender their 28th overall pick in 2014 a qualifying offer. To me, this tenuous relationship was destined to end in 2020.
Giving Ho-Sang a qualifying offer pushed this along to arbitration and eventually to both sides agreeing to prolong this for another year.
So now that the two agreed to try it out for another season, what can we expect from Ho-Sang in 2020-21?
It would be a stretch to think that Josh Ho-Sang starts the season in the NHL. Based on the structure of Ho-Sang’s deal, Josh and his camp know this. While his deal carries a $700,000 NHL salary it also pays him $225,000 to play in the minors. That’s more than a 320% increase from the $70,000 he was earning in the minors last season.
It also makes him one of the highest-paid players on the Sound Tigers. Only Austin Czarnik ($350,000), Tanner Fritz ($250,000), Sebastian Aho ($275,000) are paid more than Ho-Sang.
Will likely start the season in the AHL and his deal will pay him to produce like we know he can. And that’s not a bad thing. Since making his debut for the Sound Tigers in 2016-17, Ho-Sang has scored 123 points in 178 games (0.69 points-per-game). When Ho-Sang is on his game he can be an absolute force in the AHL and with some of the players, the Islanders added this offseason could very well help him put up quality numbers again.
Center Austin Czarnik has been a point-per-game player (or better) at the AHL level, whether it’s with Providence (Boston Bruins) or with the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames). Ho-Sang should be able to put up points if he plays next to Czarnik next season.
So what does success look like for Ho-Sang in 2020-21? It’s really down to making the NHL.
Ideally, he has a stellar training camp and he forces the Islanders to keep him with the NHL squad. But if the Islanders actually lock-up Derick Brassard that could immediately put that plan in jeopardy, even before a puck is dropped on training camp.
So, assuming he doesn’t make the NHL out of camp either because the Islanders just don’t have room for him or he doesn’t earn a spot, he’ll have to just grind it out at the AHL level and perform at his best. If he can be that dominant player we’ve all seen on a consistent basis, he’ll get his shot at the NHL level.
We forget just how good Josh Ho-Sang can be at the AHL level. In a four-game sample in 2018 Ho-Sang put up ten points. Ten. Three two-point outings and a four-point game. It’s a small sample, I know. But that specific sample came after Ho-Sang criticized how the Islanders cut him before the 2018-19 season. He clearly wanted to make good with the team after saying they were “unfair” and had already made up their mind before training camp.
Success for Ho-Sang will be performing consistently (even at the AHL level) and eventually force his way to the NHL. The Islanders have shown that if a player performs well at the AHL level they will be rewarded. Both Devon Toews and Michael Dal Colle were brought into the NHL squad by the current regime after successful AHL campaigns.
When Ho-Sang is motivated he can be a dominant player. If he can be that consistent force he’ll get his shot at the NHL again. After how last year went, this deal should give Ho-Sang all the motivation he needs. Time will tell.