Why did Islanders play Sebastian Aho over Robin Salo

Calgary Flames v New York Islanders
Calgary Flames v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

One of the big talking points after Thursday's 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks was why New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz decided to play Grant Hutton over Robin Salo? Which isn't exactly a fair question to ask.

The obvious, and right, answer is that Grant Hutton is a right-shot defenseman while Salo is a left-shot defenseman. With Ryan Pulock still out, the team needed a right shot to balance out the pairs. And, to be fair to Hutton, he's been solid since his callup. There shouldn't be an issue having him in the team as a bottom pair defenseman.

But the question shouldn't have been "Why Hutton over Salo?", but "why Aho over Salo?"

New York Islanders: Why Sebastian Aho or Robin Salo?

Sebastian Aho hasn't exactly been perfect but nor has Robin Salo to be fair. Barry Trotz told the media after yesterday's game that Salo was left off not only for being a lefty but that his "game has slipped some from his first to his last game".

And when you look at their game-over-game Game Score stats you'll see what Trotz is talking about. Here are their stats over their last four games:

Sebastian Aho:
Dec 02: 0.62
Nov 26: -0.98
Nov 24: 1.69
Nov 21:-1.43

Robin Salo:
Nov 26: -0.30
Nov 24: -1.26
Nov 21: -2.31
Nov 20: 0.29

While neither has been "good" you can clearly see that Salo has been consistently on the negative side of the puck since game one of his NHL career. That isn't exactly the case for Aho. He's been up and down, but he's had his ups, unlike Salo.

Its clear that Aho is the preferred choice over Salo by Trotz. I'm not sure that's the wisest decision. Salo might not be where Trotz wants him right now but his ceiling is much higher. Not playing him doesn't service that ceiling. And it's not as if Aho was a different maker against the Sharks.

If the Islanders aren't going to use Salo they (and he) would be better suited to have him go back down to the AHL where he'll get consistent playing time in a top-four instead. Both the Bridgeport Islanders and the New York Islanders play on Saturday, if Salo isn't going to be in the lineup on Saturday, let him go to Bridgeport.