NY Islanders can no longer justify Ruslan Iskhakov remaining in Bridgeport

The 23-year-old centerman has earned a promotion in 2023-24.

Bridgeport Islanders v Hershey Bears
Bridgeport Islanders v Hershey Bears / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The NY Islanders are winding down their most frustrating season in recent memory. The roster in 2023-24 just cannot seem to find any consistency.

This season has pulled at the heartstrings of all Islanders fans. For every comeback victory against the Los Angeles Kings, there is a blown third-period lead against the San Jose Sharks. For every six-game winning streak, there is a five-game losing streak. For every game-tying goal, there is another turnover at the blue line that costs the team a victory. Yet with 13 games remaining, the Islanders are still within striking distance of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild-card spot.

Regardless of the opportunity that lies ahead for the Islanders to make the playoffs in 2023-24, this roster has not played well enough to garner our trust moving forward. There have been countless moments of unacceptable puck movement over this losing streak that have left fans even questioning the effort level put on the ice. Suffice it to say, we have seen enough and want players held accountable. Now that the trade deadline has passed, the only option at change is to promote a prospect from the AHL level.

Ruslan Iskhakov has earned a promotion in 2023-24.

For an organization to create a winning culture, it must evaluate its roster's performance and effort level. In sum, players must be held accountable for poor performance while others should be rewarded for their enhanced efforts. For example, Pierre Engvall was finally a healthy scratch in recent games after his lackluster performance all season. Unfortunately, Patrick Roy's message has not resonated as the team continues to lose games.

Even though the Islanders have continued to perform inconsistently under Roy, Lou Lamoriello has yet to promote anyone but Kyle MacLean from Bridgeport. The term ''malpractice' is an understatement in regards to Islanders' top prospect Ruslan Iskhakov. In 59 AHL games, the 23-year-old centerman has 16 goals and 26 assists. Iskhakov possesses the ability to play left wing as well, showing his skillset and versatility will fit this roster well.

Without any excuse, Lamoriello still has not rewarded his 2nd round pick in 2018 with a promotion to the NHL. This is not Iskhakov's first AHL season either as he played 69 games for Bridgeport in 2022-23, recording an impressive 51 points. Additionally, Iskhakov played 2 seasons at the University of Connecticut before signing his entry-level contract, further exemplifying his experience level.

A promotion would not only reward a prospect who is deserving of a chance to debut but also hold other players on the roster accountable. The insertion of a young and energetic force from Bridgeport will create positive competition for players who are under contract for the next season. Based on Roy's comments, he wants to project his lines with players who are giving their best effort on every puck retrieval. Without many bench options to infuse this momentum, a top prospect seeking to prove themselves would be perfect under Roy's new system.

The Islanders' front office is sending a bad message by exemplifying reluctant behavior toward their best prospect in 2023-24. Iskhakov has nothing else to prove in the AHL, we know he is a great talent and should be rewarded for his efforts. Across the next 13 games, the Islanders must evaluate their roster for the 2024-25 season while clawing to collect every point possible. Lamoriello cannot justify a proper evaluation method without including Iskhakov's name as a consideration.