A year ago it came as a mild surprise that Michael Dal Colle was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Islanders. He had become an underwhelming yet serviceable depth forward with a good work ethic that was lauded by Barry Trotz and the coaching staff. He played in 26 games for the 2021 Islanders, scoring one goal and adding four assists.
Well, it happened again and it could mean goodbye for real this time.
“We’re discussing one or two,” GM Lou Lamoriello said at the NHL Draft when discussing qualifying offers. “Whether it’s better for them to give them an opportunity somewhere else or not. We’ll make that decision jointly with them. In other words, it’s not us trying to let them move along. But they haven’t had an opportunity and we’ll do what we can for them.”
Last summer, we thought we had seen the last of the 2014 5th overall pick in an Islanders sweater, but were mistaken. In September, Dal Colle was spotted with teammates at the New York Jets home opener at MetLife Stadium. Then on October 11th, Dal Colle was placed on waivers by the Islanders, meaning that at some point, he had signed a contract with the team.
Dal Colle had indeed signed a one-year, $750,000 deal, spent camp with the team and needed to clear waivers to be assigned to AHL Bridgeport. He played 39 games for the B-Islanders last season and had nine goals and 22 assists in 39 games as the Islanders affiliate advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The 2019 AHL All-Star had two goals and one assist in six playoff games. He made one appearance at the NHL level last season, a 4-1 Islanders win against the Buffalo Sabres on December 30th.
While an arrangement similar to last season can't be entirely ruled out, the Bridgeport Islanders are expected to have top prospects Aatu Räty and William Dufour among others in the lineup to start the season. Roster construction and the need to find playing time for a younger prospect pool could mean there is no longer a spot for Dal Colle within the organization this time around.
For the 26-year-old, a change in scenery after seven professional seasons with the Islanders could be due. He's now can sign a contract with any of the other 31 NHL teams. At worst, he can bring experience and a strong work ethic to an AHL roster, and at best, find a spot on another team's fourth line and gain another opportunity to earn consistent NHL minutes.
In 112 NHL games across five seasons, Dal Colle scored eight goals and added 13 assists for the Islanders, suing up for four Stanley Cup Playoff games.