On Monday night, the New York Islanders added forwards Austin Czarnik and Michael Dal Colle to the taxi squad. They join Simon Holmstrom, Cole Bardreau, and Grant Hutton, who were added to the taxi squad on Sunday.
In his second season as a member of the Islanders, Czarnik has been used as a spark plug by head coach Barry Trotz. Whether it’s at center or at one of the wing positions, Czarnik has played a brand of hockey that the Islanders were in need of.
Like a Casey Cizikas or a Zach Parise, the 29-year old Czarnik plays his game at a rather fast pace. He uses his skating ability to forecheck hard, doing what he can in his limited minutes to give top players a rest and create momentum for his teammates to build on.
Czarnik has a goal and two assists in six games played this season.
And that goal came, not on a line with depth players, but forwards Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows.
— NHL (@NHL) December 10, 2021
Czarnik keeps being given opportunities at the NHL level due to his work ethic.
Despite being sent down, Czarnik continued to work hard with the Bridgeport Islanders, New York’s AHL affiliate. He sits third on the team in points with 15 (6G, 9A) in 20 games.
As he has been all season, Czarnik will be relied upon while the Islanders are short-staffed due to COVID-19 and an injury to Kyle Palmieri.
Michael Dal Colle’s story is a bit different.
The former fifth overall pick back in 2014 never lived up to expectations. He played 111 games over four seasons with the Islanders, with just eight goals and 13 assists. While Dal Colle showed signs of being a depth forward, the skill set he brought to the Islanders did not make him stand out.
Dal Colle was a restricted free agent come the end of the 2020-21 season, and although he did not receive a qualifying offer, the Islanders eventually signed him to a one-year, $750 K deal. It was a sign that the Islanders valued Dal Colle as a depth piece.
Despite the lack of production at the NHL level, Dal Colle has NHL experience, which is a valued asset.
The 25-year old has not played a game with the Islanders this season but has faired quite well in the AHL. Due to an injury, Dal Colle has only played in eight games this season but has six points (4G, 2A).
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) December 23, 2021
Over his AHL career, Dal Colle has consistently performed. But for some reason, the confidence that came with AHL production never translated to the NHL. It could be due to the inability to have success and the pressure of being such a high pick.
The infamous they say you never get a second chance to make a perfect impression.
This first stint back in the NHL after seasons of mediocre play and an AHL demotion could be the last chance for Dal Colle to prove he can be an NHL-caliber player.
This chance is vital for Dal Colle, whether it allows him to be part of the Islanders organization following this season or being given an opportunity with another NHL team.
With Czarnik and Dal Colle being added to the taxi squad, that more than likely means that the taxi squad for the Islanders just got deeper. Forwards Bardreau and Holmstrom, the other two forwards on the taxi squad, now move down the depth chart.