Since the Islanders traded for Bo Horvat, their center depth has taken a bit of a hit. Horvat now centers the Islanders' first line while Mathew Barzal has shifted to the wing. Head coach Lane Lambert has been hesitant to break up his best forward duo, justifiably of course, therefore the Islanders are thin up the middle with any sort of injury. Aatu Räty is no longer an option as he was part of the package that went to Vancouver in exchange for Horvat, so when the Isles dip into the Bridgeport Islanders pool, theirs a steep dropoff from their former No.1 prospect. Otto Koivula was recalled for the first time this season on Feb. 13th and has already been returned to Bridgeport on Thursday night.
Koivula played his first NHL game this season which was also his 21st career NHL game. Koivula was pretty much a non-factor receiving just 6:36 of time on the ice. 2:47 of that time on ice did come on the power play, however, Koivula didn't factor in much there, either. Tuesday's game against the Ottawa Senators felt like a must-win game and Lambert indicated he felt that circumstance as well. Part of the reason Koivula's minutes were so sheltered was due to the fact that Lambert heavily relied on his veterans, namely Horvat and Barzal who received over 27 and 25 minutes respectively.
Now Koivula has returned to Bridgeport and the Isles are carrying 22/23 players on the roster. That may or may not be indicative of how close J.G. Pageau is to returning as he was placed on injured reserve retroactively to Feb. 11th which means he can be activated and available for Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins.
For now, the Islanders have Andy Andreoff on the roster and likely centering the fourth line for Friday night's contest. Come Saturday against the Bruins, Pageau could return.