Islanders: Predicting who might come off taxi squad for season opener

Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kieffer Bellows #20 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Who will play on the New York Islanders third line tonight? It could be a player off the taxi squad, if so who will this mystery player be?

With the New York Islanders ready to take the ice for the season opener against the New York Rangers there is plenty of speculation about who will be included in the Isles gameday squad.

We know that about 90% of the roster is set. The top two and fourth forward lines are set in stone, as is the defense core, and who the starting goalie will be (Semyon Varlamov). What is still up for debate is who will flank Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the third line?

Barry Trotz, as is typical, will not reveal his hand until he absolutely has to. We won’t know for sure who’s on the roster until he hands in his lineup card. But he did give us all a hint. We could see

someone off the taxi squad

play tonight.

It’s Bellows

Based on recent lines at camp/practice, Ross Johnston is playing on the third line but it’s hard to see him keep that spot for the first game of the season. It’s why Barry is saying we’ll likely see someone off the taxi squad.

According to CapFriendly, the Islanders taxi squad consists of four players: Kieffer Bellows, Otto Koivula, Austin Czarnik, and goalie Jakub Skarek. With Dmytro Timashov passing through waivers today I would imagine he makes his way to the taxi squad as well.

By all accounts, Kieffer Bellows had a really strong camp. Couple that with an equally impressive AHL season, and a pretty darn good loan spell with the Isles last season, and it makes all the sense in the world that Bellows is the player Trotz is talking about.

Maybe he’s talking about Otto Koivula who’s already trusted by Trotz in the defensive zone and has more offensive skill than he gets credit for.

Both Bellows and Koivula are waiver exempt and can essentially move freely between the regular squad and the taxi squad. Although, players called up from the taxi squad can stay up for 30 days* or 10 games* before having to go through waivers again, if they aren’t already exempt.

(*Both days and games count are cumulative and can be hit over multiple call ups.)

So we can’t count out Czarnik just because he isn’t waiver exempt like Bellows and Koivula.

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In my opinion, Bellows will play tonight. He’s had a monster camp and the Islanders desperately need that influx of talent and offensive abilities that he (and Oliver Wahlstrom) can bring to the team.

To me, that third line could (and should) be Bellows-Pageau-Wahlstrom.

We’ll see closer to puck drop if someone is called up off the taxi squad. If the Isles plan on doing so they’ll have to submit the paperwork before 5 PM New York time to make it official.