And that, folks, is what we call a cup o' coffee. Following his NHL debut on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins, the NY Islanders sent top prospect William Dufour back down to the AHL Bridgeport Islanders, per Stefen Rosner. The 20-year-old winger took his rookie lap for warmups heading into his first NHL game. Head coach Lane Lambert lined Dufour up next to the Islanders first line center, Mathew Barzal. The rookie registered 6:48 of ice time, registered a hit, and was a minus-two.
No one expected Dufour to be perfect. The first period of his game started strong. His footspeed (which has been a concern in the past) appeared up to par, his positioning was good, and he used his large 6'2", 216 lb frame to his advantage using his body to register hits but also separate bodies from pucks. After 20 minutes of play, the Islanders first line which included Dufour had more scoring chances for than they did against.
The second period didn't go quite as good. Dufour was on the ice for two goals against and was a direct result of why the Bruins scored. His night would end with 30 minutes remaining in the game as Lambert sat him for the rest of the contest to watch, rather than play. It's something Islander fans have seen, although from former head coach Barry Trotz when he displayed what's been labeled as "tough love" with Oliver Wahlstrom. Although Lambert has proven to be a different kind of coach from Trotz, the same philosiphy was applied to Dufour as it was to Wahlstrom.
"He'll continue to learn and grow from that," Lambert explained. "That's what it's about from that standpoint in his development. He'll be fine."
Now, Dufour will head back to Bridgeport where he has had a strong season registering 13 goals and 25 points in 37 games. He got his taste of the NHL and now he'll work on fixing the intricacies in his game that benched him for the latter 30 minutes of Wednesday nights game.
It's entirely possible the demotion isn't solely based on Dufour's play. Kyle Palmieri has been skating with the Islanders in a regular contact uniform. Lambert has stated in the past it's completely up to him when he's ready to play. If Palmieri returns to the lineup tonight, the Islanders would have needed to make a roster move. Once Adam Pelech is ready to return, we could expect the same for Dennis Cholowski (who made his Islanders debut on Wednesday), or Parker Wotherspoon.
*Story to be updated as more information is reported.