Perhaps the most surprising story of the NY Islanders' 2022-23 season was the emergence of Hudson Fasching. Signed during the off-season to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K, Fasching was expected to provide depth and a veteran presence on a young Bridgeport Islanders team.
After an injury to Cal Clutterbuck in December, Fasching was called up to the team as a fourth-line replacement. He quickly fit in alongside Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, even providing a goal in his second game of the season. Upon Clutterbuck's return to the lineup, Fasching remained with the team, filling in from the top to the bottom of the lineup, as he had become a critical piece to the nightly lineup.
In his 49 games last season, Fasching provided ten goals with nine assists - much more than Head Coach Lane Lambert or anybody could have asked for. He plays a straightforward game, trying to cut back on risks at all costs.
"It kind of just fits my style of game," Fasching said at the Islanders clean-out day. "I don't think I take a lot of risks with my game. I try to minimize that as best I can. That's kind of how this team functions, they try to minimize risk and still try to produce points and produce goals at the same time."
Now that he's secured a two-year, one-way contract, Fasching will look to build on his most successful season as a professional. His best position looks to be on the fourth line, where he spent most of his time last season. But with the "identity line" still intact, he'll often find himself higher in the lineup.
Fasching frequently finds himself in the right place at the right time, seemingly never panicking despite his limited NHL experience. His biggest moment of the season came without the puck even touching his stick, as a Josh Bailey deflection caromed off Fashicng for the game-winning goal in an Isles 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres as the two were battling for playoff position.
Though it's just a glorified pick-up game, Fasching has been showing off some of his skill this off-season in Da Beauty League, putting on a silky move in the offensive zone to beat the defender. He showed off his impressive shooting at times last season, including a sniped goal from the slot against the Toronto Maple Leafs. As he may start the season on the third line, more skill will become crucial for the Islanders' early-season success.
With the Isles pressed up against the cap, Fasching's team-friendly deal becomes critical if he can continue along the path he began last season. Fasching is a surprisingly good skater for his size and doesn't shy away from the game's physicality - both of which the Isles need depending on where in the lineup he's playing. One thing is for sure, Fasching won't be taking his opportunity lightly, putting in the work to maintain his position on the team.
"You set the bar for yourself, and you have to keep raising the bar," Fasching said. "It's putting in summer of training and trying to find ways to make my game better and find a way to contribute more next year."