New York Islanders forward Ross Johnston survived waivers on Sunday, but he wasn't as lucky on Monday afternoon. GM Lou Lamoriello put the 29-year-old fourth liner on waivers, an indication that forward Simon Holmstrom will indeed end up on the opening night 23-man roster, earning the final spot ahead of Johnston.
To get cap-compliant, the Islanders need to make another move and may need to send the waiver-exempt Holmstrom on waivers in what would be a paper move. If Johnston clears waivers, he would be re-assigned to Bridgeport, and Holmstrom could be brought up for the opening night roster vs. Buffalo on Saturday. There's also the possibility of declaring Johnston a non-roster player while on waivers, but that hasn't been confirmed.
Johnston signed a four-year extension with the Islanders that went into effect during the 2022-23 season. With a $1.1M AAV, it is unlikely that the one-dimensional forward is to be claimed a day after most of the NHL put players on waivers ahead of the 5 PM deadline to set their rosters. By delaying a day and having the flexibility of Holmstrom's status, it's plausible that Lamoriello felt it gave him the best chance to keep Johnston, who is popular in the dressing room, with the organization.
Asked about Holmstrom's play on Monday after practice, head coach Lame Lambert provided a positive evaluation "He's played well. I think that, for the most part, he's a pretty good fit there [top line]," said Lambert as reported by Stefen Rosner of The Hockey News.
In seven seasons with the Islanders, Johnston has appeared in 134 games, scoring nine goals and 15 assists while picking up 283 penalty minutes (PIM).