The story of Ross Johnston's season is "in and out". The big and tough winger hasn't been in the lineup consistently for the New York Islanders on the year. And honestly, when the Islanders are 100% healthy there's no reason for him to be in the lineup full-time.
But since the trade deadline, Cal Clutterbuck has been forced out of the lineup for the remainder of the season. Opening up a gap on the Islander's fourth line. Barry Trotz has juggled between Johnston and Kieffer Bellows in Clutterbuck's spot. A spot that has to go to Ross going forward.
New York Islanders Ross Johnston should stay in
Last night against the Rangers, Ross Johnston was up for the physical game necessary to play a tough Rangers side with four hits and was involved offensively with a secondary helper on Matt Martin's goal. All in 8:38 of total ice time.
That's not abnormal for Johnston. He hasn't averaged more than 8:44 of ice time in his last three seasons. Has 53 hist on the years (averaging 2.65 per game) and popping in six points in 20 games (a pace of 25 over a full year). Johnston is accustomed to being effective with very little ice time. And doing so whenever called upon by the coaching staff.
So with a need for someone to take the 4RW spot full-time, the Islanders should leave it to Ross for the remainder of the month of April.
I understand Kieffer Bellows should get playing time but using him between 9-10 minutes a night in a fourth-line checking role isn't really using him for what he's good at. Bellows has wilted in that new role. He's trying his best of course but it's just not his type of game. He needs to get up on the offense a bit more where his shot can do damage. Those minutes are tailor-made for someone like Ross Johnston.
Johnston is the prototypical fourth liner in the NHL. The only reason he doesn't get more playing time is due to the fact that the Isles have two other prototypical and more established fourth-line wingers in Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Now with one of those two guys out for the season, it's time for Ross Johnston.