In a pretty explosive interview with Sport-Express, former New York Islanders prospect Anatolii Golyshev speaks about his side of what happened between signing with the Isles and heading back to the KHL.
It's a pretty long interview and I won't go over every line of it. Instead, here are three of the big takeaways from the interview with the Russian forward.
(Note: The English translation is a combination of Google Translate and @vorkywh24's translation on Twitter.)
New York Islanders former prospect Anatolii Golyshev opens up
1. Fed Promises
The biggest takeaway was how Anatolii Golyshev saw the situation unfold. According to Golyshev, he was told he'd be in Bridgeport temporarily before joining the NHL squad and was "fed promises" by the Isles.
"[...] they again assured me that I was at Bridgeport for a very short time, literally for a couple of matches, and then they would immediately call me back. You must, they say, work, be patient. I believed. So I was constantly fed with promises. And yet, in reality, everything was not at all what I was told."- Anatolii Golyshev
We have to remember that this is one side to the story. But if this is in fact how it went down this does not reflect well on the organization. From everything I've heard about how Lou Lamoriello deals with players and even prospects, I have a hard time thinking he was just feeding him lines. Instead, I feel like there was some sort of misunderstanding.
I'm sure Lou made some sort of assurance to Golyshev about his time in Bridgeport but I'm sure Lou also added or, more specifically, meant to add some sort of stipulation that Golyshev's play would be what would dictate the length of his stay in Bridgeport.
2. Role with Bridgeport Islanders and place in the depth chart
Golyshev talked about his role with the Bridgeport Islanders being that of a bottom-six player and being rarely deployed on special teams and how that was hardly the way to showcase talent.
"[...] in Bridgeport, for some reason I was not a first-line player but was in the third or fourth line. I had very little time, I didn't play on special teams. I didn’t understand, because the Islanders continued to insist that I was the first person they would call from the farm club. Sometimes in Bridgeport, I appeared only 3-4 times during the period. Officially, I was in the second power play, but you know what that means? About 10-15 seconds on ice. During this time, you will hardly have time to show something."- Anatolii Golyshev
He's not wrong here. He was hardly used on the PP with the B-Islanders. But when he did he was impactful. Unfortunately, the AHL has a "development rule" that prevents teams from playing too many vets. Golyshev counted as a vet so he was not only playing in the bottom six but was rotated out a few times. Something that clearly compounded an already frustrating situation.
But, if as Golyshev says, he was supposed to be the first guy up on the depth chart, why did they play him so little in the AHL?
It's clear Golyshev wasn't at the top of the call-up list (for forwards). But then again he wasn't really performing well when you look at his production. In his last nine games at the AHL level, Golyshev had a single point to his name.
Now how much does his deployment as a bottom six forward have to do with that?
3. Does he know why it ended this way
According to Golyshev, he doesn't know why it ended this way. He did what the organization wanted and didn't get the opportunity he feels he deserved.
"The fact of the matter is that no. I worked honestly. I didn’t have any problems with discipline, I did my best in training. I played well in the exhibition match with Philadelphia, was supposed to play in another meeting against the Devils, but it did not take place due to problems with electricity in the arena. I say sincerely - I have nothing to reproach myself for. And it's a shame that they never gave me a chance"- Anatolii Golyshev
That last part of the quote rings true. The Islanders were in a roster crunch with a bunch of guys out on COVID protocol and Golyshev didn't get a single game at the NHL level. Even after all the praise, he received from Barry Trotz during training camp, he never got his chance.
Which is really the confusing part about this entire situation, for everyone. The Islanders seemed to like Golyshev. They liked his play on and off the puck, they liked the way he practiced, but he couldn't get himself into a game even after the GM figuratively tapped him as someone who merited a look (by way of calling him up). That's confusing.
Who's to Blame?
Again, we have to remember this is one side of the story. I'm sure there's no lie here from Golyshev. But I feel like there's a clear misunderstanding that occurred on both sides. I don't think there's a single person to blame per se.
Was he going to turn the Islanders season around? Unlikely. Could he have been a serviceable NHL'er? Maybe, but we'll never know. It is what it is. Golyshev is gone back to the KHL now.
What we can say is that this is a frustrating end to a five years saga that began in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.