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New York Islanders

Rosner: Options Limited as Injuries Start to Pile Up for Islanders

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New York Islanders, Kyle Palmieri
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16: New York Islanders left wing Kyle Palmieri (21) shoots in warm up before a game between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders on April 16, 2021 at TD garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

The New York Islanders had made it through the first quarter of the 2022-23 season with little to no injury concerns. But over the last week, the injuries have started to pile up.

After taking warmups ahead of the New York Islanders contest against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night, forward Josh Bailey was a late scratch. The Islanders announced that he was day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Following the game, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said that it was a situation in which he was testing to see if he could play, a game-time decision, despite telling the media following optional morning skate that everyone that made the trip to Philadelphia was available.

Bailey had missed three games before Tuesday’s contest, but Lambert said each time that those absences were not injury-related.

Fourth-line winger Cal Clutterbuck had season-ending shoulder surgery back in March, and soreness kept him out of the 2022-23 season opener. He’s failed to finish a few games this season, but Lambert has not provided a reason.

Tuesday night, Clutterbuck only played 4:11 minutes before his night came to a close. He laid one hit, which could have led to his early departure. NYI Hockey Now spoke with Clutterbuck early in the season. He shared that his shoulders felt 100 percent, so his latest injury and the previous early-game departures may not be shoulder related.

“I haven’t heard anything yet, but hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow,” Lambert said during his postgame media availability.

On Nov. 21, a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Palmieri was forced to leave the game after a brutal collision with Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly. The point of contact seemed to be the head.

Reilly has been placed on long-term IR, and Palmieri has not been on the ice for practice and did not travel with the team on their post-Thanksgiving trip to Columbus or Philadelphia.

When Lambert was asked if Palmieri had been skating on his own, he did not answer the question, only saying that Palmieri was still day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Rookie Simon Holmstrom was recalled on Nov. 23 for the game against the Edmonton Oilers and has played in every game since. He was not supposed to play Tuesday night, with Johnston coming in to add some grit, but the Bailey injury forced a change to that gameplan.

In the 3-1 loss to the Flyers, defenseman Scott Mayfield hobbled off the ice at the end of the second after blocking a shot off the foot. He remained in the game. Adam Pelech seemed to tweak something in the third period as he hobbled off. But after stretching out his leg in the tunnel, he remained in the game.

Following the game, Lambert was asked if he was confident that he has the depth to fill in if there were some absences moving forward.

“Yeah.”

Holmstrom has played solid in his short NHL career, as he’s shown off his strong hockey intelligence as well as an active stick. He has not given up the puck, as he moves the puck quickly. He has two takeaways, as he has been solid along the boards in both the offense and the defensive zone.

He has played 63:20 with Mathew Barzal and 6:04 with Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He even got some time on the Islanders second power-play unit Tuesday.

Ross Johnston is more of a fourth-line winger, but Lambert has not shied away from using him on the third line. He does not provide offense, but he plays a gritty style, something Lambert valued in the rematch with Philadelphia.

Johnston did what he had to do with the fight early but was a non-factor after that.

After these two forwards, Nikita Soshnikov remains an option as he has been with the Bridgeport Islanders since being waived back on Nov. 15, clearing the following day. He has played three games under Brent Thompson with no points.

First-year AHL players in Aatu Räty, William Dufour, and Ruslan Iskhakov are not NHL-ready, and forcing them up to the NHL too early could be detrimental. If the Islanders did need another forward, a player like Otto Koivula, who has 14 games of NHL experience, would get the nod.

The Islanders could use another NHL-caliber forward, which should be addressed at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.

On the backend, Robin Salo has served as the seventh defenseman after playing the first four games of the season alongside Scott Mayfield. He’s played some Bridgeport games since then to stay game-ready but has not found his way back into the lineup.

If any defenseman did go down, he’s the lone option for Lambert.

Defenseman Samuel Bolduc is tearing it up in Bridgeport with 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 18 games after an injury-riddled 2021-22 season.

The 22-year-old former second-round pick (2019) also injured himself at development camp and did not get any preseason games under his belt. He could be an option if need be, but there’s no rush on him at this point.

The New York Islanders have not placed anyone on Injured Reserve just yet, as their roster is currently full (23/23). They will be back on the ice Thursday morning for an optional morning skate, and NYI Hockey Now will provide you with the latest injury updates when they become available.

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