It appears as if Ross Johnston has made the NY Islanders' final roster, as he wasn't placed on waivers today. Final rosters are due league-wide tomorrow by 5 p.m., and Johnston wasn't among the dozens of names waived across the league. The Isles have been over the cap since the start of camp and must be below the $83.5M threshold by tomorrow.
With Johnston surviving waivers, it likely means Simon Holmstrom will be the final roster casualty for the Isles. Holmstrom is waivers-exempt, meaning he can be sent down to Bridgeport without any team having an opportunity to claim him.
Though it's not official, having Holmstrom sent down to the AHL, at least on paper, won't force the Islanders' hand in losing any players. This could be a way for the Isles to buy some time, as they can later in the week choose to waive Johnston and recall Holmstrom before their first game on October 14.
Johnston, who played his first game with the Isles in 2015-16, currently has three seasons left on his contract at $1.1M per season, struggling to find playing time since agreeing to his current four-year deal in 2021.
In 134 career games, Johston has totaled just 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists). Last season, he appeared in just 16 games, failing to register a goal and adding two assists. When on the ice, he is one of the most physically imposing players in the league, but with a limited skill set in a league that is moving away from fighting, it remains a question of how he fits in the lineup.
With the contract's of Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin expiring after this season, there's the possibility Lou Lamoriello is holding on to Johnston to be part of the new "identity line," which could also include Casey Cizikas and Hudson Fasching - but for now, he's eating up cap space for a team that is pressed right against the cap ceiling.
It'll be interesting to see if Johnston remains part of the roster come opening night.