In the final stretch of the Swedish regular season, SHL side Linkoping was in a fight to avoid the drop. With 12 games left on the season, the struggling side brought in Josh Ho-Sang on loan from New York Islanders.
The talented forward just had a loan spell with SHL side Orebro cut short prior to joining Linkoping. Orebro terminated Ho-Sang’s loan due to the forward’s game shape being behind the rest of the team. To be fair, the rest of the Orebro squad had been playing competitively for five months. Ho-Sang hadn’t played since March of 2020 when the season was cut short due to the pandemic.
Joining struggling side Linkoping in mid-February, there was some belief that Ho-Sang could get in the squad and get some consistent game time as they tried to avoid relegation.
Linkoping did eventually avoid getting into a relegation battle. Over that final 12 game stretch, they’d go 6-5-1. But Ho-Sang would only play four games and sit out the five of the eight as a healhty scratch.
What happened to New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang at Linkoping?
Ho-Sang didn’t actually hit the ice for Linkoping until the end of February. His first game was on Feb 23. Paperwork issues forced him to the sidelines for the first three games with his new squad. The team tried to get it all sorted as quickly as possible but unfortunately couldn’t get it through quickly enough.
When he finally hit the ice, Ho-Sang registered two goals over four games. But his ice-time started to fall the longer the loan went. By game three he played just over ten minutes, and by game four he played just over seven minutes. He didn’t see the ice again the rest of the season.
Why? With the healthy scratches piling up, the natural rumors started to swirl amongst social media about a player who just won’t conform to his surroundings. But speaking with Linkoping GM Niklas Persson, that’s far from the case.
"Only reason he hasn’t been in the line up is due to competition with in the team for the spots in the line up. We had a lot of injured guys that became healthy.He hasn’t been playing for a long time and needed time to get in game shape. We knew that if we would have ended up in qualification round to stay in league we would need him and that was our goal to have him ready for that.Josh has been a total pro here with us, worked out hard both on and off the ice to get in shape to play. He’s been great in the group and have tried to contribute in any way he could to help the team."
I’m sure Ho-Sang was frustrated to not get game time in his new surroundings, but by the sounds of things, he did everything he should have done to get in the team and to be a valuable member of the squad. His seemingly positive attitude even in this frustrating situation will go a long way to help his reputation and perhaps get him a chance to play after this.
Cynics will say that no GM will speak negatively about their own player, even if it’s just a loanee. And that’s certainly true. But Persson has been nothing but honest here. This was always the plan for Ho-Sang.
Unlike his counterparts in Sweden, Ho-Sang has seen limited game-time over the last two years. Since asking for a trade after the 2019 camp and before playing his first game in Sweden, Ho-Sang has played 22 games. By the time Ho-Sang arrived in Orebro for his first loan spell in Sweden, they had played 31 games that season. That’s how far behind he was. As Persson said, Ho-Sang “needed time to get in game shape”.
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What’s next for Ho-Sang now that the SHL regular season is over?
It would seem that a return to the Sound Tigers is unlikely for him. The Islanders sent him to the San Antonio Rampage (now the Henderson Silver Knights) at the end of the 2019-20 season. Could he be loaned to another AHL squad?
Possibly. While the Sound Tigers only have eleven games left on the schedule, the Silver Knights, for example, still have 18 games left. Even serving a quarantine period could see him play a number of games.
Whatever happens, it seems clear that Ho-Sang and the Islanders are destined to end their fractured relationship this year. Ho-Sang will become a Group 6 UFA at the end of the season. The loan spell wasn’t necessarily successful, but he got to train in the SHL and has certainly helped his reputation as a team player based on what his GM at Linkoping had to say.
That should help him wherever he ends up.