Former Isles D Thomas Hickey signs PTO with the New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks / Rocky W. Widner/NHL/GettyImages

Former New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey was signed to a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. The 33-year-old had spent the previous nine seasons as part of the Islanders organization after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on January 27, 2013, by then-GM Gath Snow.

Former Isles D Thomas Hickey signs PTO with the New Jersey Devils

Selected 4th overall by the Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Hickey has played 456 career games, all with the Islanders, scoring 22 goals and registering 117 points. He appeared in two games for the Isles last season when the team battled COVID-19. In 34 AHL games with Bridgeport and the Ontario Reign, he had six goals an 12 assists.

Hickey was signed to a four-year extension with the Islanders after finishing with 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in 69 games during the 2017-18 season. The diminutive blueliner had a penchant for clutch goals during his early Islanders career, scoring five over-time goals, with the most memorable coming in Game 3 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals versus the Florida Panthers.

Back on April 5th of the 2015-16 season, Hickey's overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens clinched a playoff berth for the Isles. He was the hero again in Game 3 when he skated down the slot and yelled, "Brock!" before receiving a pass from Nelson and shot a one-timer past Roberto Luongo at 12:31 of OT for a 4-3 win and 2 games to 1 series lead.

"I'm coming out of my blackout right now," Hickey said. "I just wanted to shoot the puck in overtime. There's never a bad shot. ... Hopefully I have bigger goals to come." “We had our ups and downs, but we didn’t get discouraged at all,” Hickey said of the resilient win. “I think that was huge, to get down, come back and show that it really doesn’t matter what the score is.” 

Concussions and injuries limited Hickey to just five games during 2020-21 and he appeared in only 14 AHL games in 2019-20. On March 20, 2021, he played in his first NHL game in nearly two years and picked up a pair of assists in a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The game had extra significance for Hickey after losing his brother Dan to cancer a year earlier.

"I've been thinking about my brother, and I've always wanted to just do good things while he was battling and fighting and to show him that (I) can play for him," said Hickey. "And I think that just carries over even though he's not with us. That's in the back of your mind, so those are the things you're thinking about, and it's been a tough road, but I feel like it's worth that wait."