BRIDGEPORT, CT– When the Bridgeport Islanders took on the Charlotte Checkers Friday, they had a new member on their bench in Nikita Soshnikov.
On Tuesday, the New York Islanders waived Nikita Soshnikov, and he cleared on Wednesday. In three games this season with New York, the 29-year-old Russian forward notched four shots, with eight hits and a few giveaways in 9:56 minutes per game.
Once a player passes through waivers, they do not need to be immediately sent to the organization’s AHL affiliate. New York elected to send him to the Bridgeport Islanders, leaving them with just one extra forward in Ross Johnston.
“Well, first of all, I thought that he would clear,” Lamoriello said Thursday morning. “He hasn’t played. He hasn’t played here in the states for a few years. He hasn’t played for us other than a couple of games, so I thought he would clear, and it gives him an opportunity to get some ice time. We got three games this weekend in Bridgeport, so he’ll get some ice time.”
With Bridgeport Friday, Soshnikov skated alongside Simon Holmstrom and Aatu Räty on the second line.
In his Bridgeport Islanders debut, Soshnikov posted only one shot. Head coach Brent Thompson thought for his first game with the club, he did a good job.
“You can see he’s got NHL speed. He’s got an NHL hockey mindset. Obviously, for his first game, you’d like to see him shoot a little bit more, and take the puck to the net overall, but I thought it was a good introduction and getting to know the new teammates and the new line, and getting the chemistry going will be something we’ll have to work on,” Thompson said.
Thompson was in contact with the main team following the winger’s move down (up geographically) to Bridgeport, and the message he received from the main club was simple:
“Making sure he’s ready. I think at the end of the day, just like every player here, we have to make sure they’re conditioned and ready for any opportunity for a call-up, and that’s our goal, is making sure that he’s going to be ready for that call.”
Soshnikov only appeared in three games before being sent down to Bridgeport earlier this week and was not surprised when he was told about the move.
“Not really. I just knew I needed to play some games because I’ve been just training on my own. We had like three guys skating, and it was tough for a month. So to only play three games for a month, I knew I needed to get some games,” the Russian native told NYI Hockey Now following the 4-1 loss against Charlotte.
While we don’t know the extent of Soshnikov’s stay with Bridgeport, Thompson’s initial conversation with Soshnikov was positive.
“I let him know, just like everybody else on our team, there’s a standard of work that he has to do, and he seemed to be excited about the opportunity to get back to his game,” Thompson shared.
Soshnikov is taking it one game at a time, but reps are his main goal with Bridgeport.
“For now, just get my legs under me… just get going a little bit, and the game is going to come.”
Last February, the Russian forward decided to give the NHL another shot after playing for three years in the KHL. Soshnikov was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization from 2015 to 2018. He appeared in 67 NHL games for the franchise, with seven goals and seven assists, mostly playing fourth-line minutes alongside Matt Martin.
In February of 2018, Toronto traded Soshnikov to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick. He played in 17 games with St. Louis over two years, with one goal and one assist.
Following that season, he returned to the KHL before trying to make an NHL comeback with New York.
If he wants to return to the KHL, New York would need to place him on unconditional waivers, which would terminate his contract.