The injury bug hit the NY Islanders in the last few months, leaving them with no choice but to dip into their farm system and borrow from the lower ranks. To date, the Islanders have recalled all of Robin Salo, Aatu Räty, William Dufour, Simon Holmstrom, Hudson Fasching, Parker Wotherspoon, Samuel Bolduc, Dennis Cholowski, and a few others have made a single appearance or two. Of the aforementioned, some have made bigger impacts than others, but when Isles GM Lou Lamoriello was asked if any one prospect in particular stood out to him in their chance at the NHL level, he directed the praise to the group as a whole.
"I think that's been a bright spot with each and every one of the players. They've filled a role, whatever's asked of them," Lamoriello explained. "Sometimes they had to go into situations that maybe aren't best for them. Whether they're normally a top-six forward, they've had to fill in on the bottom-six because that's where the injury was or that's what was needed. I think each and every one of them in a different way have handled every situation the way we would have like them to handle it, and giving us an indication that they're not far away from being a significant factor in our lineup."
The most notable players that have made the biggest impact for the Islanders are surely Holmstrom, Räty, Fasching, and Wotherspoon. Holmstrom ahs been a pleasant surprise, too. He's a former first round draft pcik out of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, one that seemed to be developing at a slower pace than most would have hoped. Two Covid burdened seasons will do that, but he really came on in the AHL last season with the Bridgeport Islanders and has now asserted himself almost as a regular in the NHL lineup. IN 15 NHL games, the Swedish winger has scored three goals and five points, but it's been his defensive responsibility that has stood out most. Except for his latest goal, it was a howitzer.
Wotherspoon has been anoter welcomed surprise. He won't wow you, but he's just been a steady presence on the Islanders blue line that can defend well in his own end and move the puck up ice in transition. He's played on all three lines to this point and hasn't looked out of place and just might have made a case for himself to stick around in the NHL a little longer than the Islanders might have anticipated.
Räty is the prospect the Islanders and their fans are probably most excited about. He's been recalled twice now and it looks like he'll burn a year on his entry-level contract and remain with the Islanders, possibly for the remainder of the season. He's shown poise, defensive prowess, and a scoring touch in limited minutes playing in the bottom six, mostly on the fourth line. The goal is to elevate him at some point, but in his small samples, he's been impressive, something for the Islanders and fans to be excited abot moving forward.
Fasching came out of nowhere. He was signed over the summer as an unrestricted free agent and the expectations were nothing more than for him to be an AHL player. However, he received his recall and injected something into the Islanders lineup that they hadn't seen since the prime days of the identity line. Electricity. Fashcing burst onto the scene and won over the hearts of Lane Lambert and Islander fans alike, forcing his way onto the roster and sometimes in an elevated role. He's currently on the injured reserve, but Fasching has made a case to stick on the roster as well. He's not a top-six scorer so don't get too excited, but he's an excellent fourth liner, one that can play with speed, aggressivness, and pot an goal here and there.
The Islanders have problems, but their prospects are helping keep them somewhat afloat. Lamoriello rang praises for them earlier on Wednesday, a deserved compliment from the general manager. If and when there's overturn with the roster, the Islanders at least know they have some young talent that's close to NHL-ready that can fill some voids when necessary.