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Islanders Terminating Nikita Soshnikov’s Contract, What Went Wrong?

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New York Islanders, Nikita Soshnikov

Nikita Soshnikov is heading home.

After trying to make an NHL comeback, Nikita Soshnikov will return to his native Russia and likely return to the KHL, where he’d been playing the previous five seasons.

The Islanders signed Soshnikov to a one-year, league-minimum deal on Sept. 2.  With Omsk Avangard, in 2021-22, Soshnikov notched four goals and 11 assists in 22 games before five goals and three assists in 13 playoff games.

Soshnikov did come to Islanders training camp with NHL experience, as he played 70 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs over three years (2015-2018) under current New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, with seven goals and seven assists. From 2017-2019, Soshnikov was a member of the St. Louis Blues organization, garnering just a goal and an assist in 17 games.

But after five years away, Soshnikov wanted to return to the NHL, and given his relationship with Lamoriello, the Islanders awarded him a shot.

Soshnikov was considered a speedy player, his biggest asset, and the Islanders lacked enough of that skillset. But his quickness did not outweigh his play on both sides of the puck, and the Islanders were quick to move him down the depth charts.

Soshnikov had no points on four shots with one giveaway in three games (30:00 TOI) with New York, but that giveaway was costly in a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning as his turnover led to the eventual game-winner at the second-period buzzer.

Rapid Recap: Islanders Allow Back-Breaking Bolts Goal Late in Second, Lose 5-3

He did score during preseason, though.

 

Islanders head coach Lane Lambert gave Soshnikov another shot, playing him on Mat Barzal’s wings against the New York Rangers at MSG back on Nov. 8, a 4-3 win. But that experiment didn’t last past the first period as Lambert switched up his lines.

Soshnikov was waived by New York on Nov. 15 and passed through, playing three games with Bridgeport (AHL) before missing 10 games with a “non-COVID-related illness.”

During that time, rumors swirled that he wanted to go back home to Russia and the KHL and that the Islanders would place him on waivers for the termination of his contract. NYI Hockey Now reached out to Bridgeport, who said he was still with the team, but this ending was predictable, given what had transpired.

And on Sunday afternoon, the news came, and Monday, both sides will move on.

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