On Tuesday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the New York Islanders have placed forward Nikita Soshnikov on waivers. The 28-year-old Russian had no points in three games with New York, with four shots on goal, eight hits, and a few takeaways in 9:56 minutes per game.
With Nikita Soshnikov on waivers, the New York Islanders will have a roster spot whether he clears or is claimed by Wednesday at 2 PM ET.
So who will New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello be calling up from the Bridgeport Islanders, their AHL affiliate?
Let’s do some process of elimination.
Aatu Räty, the 20-year-old Finnish forward who could be the steal of the 2021 NHL Draft, has two goals and four assists in 12 games with the Bridgeport Islanders this season. He is strictly a centerman despite playing wing in the past, and the Islanders have made it abundantly clear that he is a centerman.
That means he will likely only be called up if there is an injury, especially this season with the four centermen on the roster NHL staples.
Onto William Dufour.
One could argue that the jump from the QMJHL to the AHL is more extreme than the jump from the AHL to the NHL. For William Dufour, he has not played poorly this season for Bridgeport, with four goals and one assist in 12 games. But with this being his first season in the AHL, there is no rush for Dufour to make it to the NHL.
He has a lot to work on, including understanding the NHL game, which will come in time with experience.
Despite being the AHL’s Player of the Month for October, with four goals and seven assists in seven games, Ruslan Iskhakov is likely not to get the call-up either. The 22-year-old center, like William Dufour and Aatu Räty, is in his first season in the AHL. Like Räty, Iskhakov played overseas, which should have helped his development but also would likely only be called up if there was an injury.
In 12 games, Iskahkov has four goals and 10 assists as he continues to rip up the AHL, and while other teams may elevate a player like that, it would not be in the Islanders’ best interest to call him up just yet.
That leaves us with 21-year-old Simon Holmstrom, the 23rd overall pick back in the 2019 NHL draft.
Despite still being a young player, he has been given chances to show his talent amongst NHLers, most recently this past preseason, but he didn’t do enough to separate himself from the pack.
Unlike the other players just mentioned, time is on the clock for Holmstrom.
After 12 goals and 31 assists in 68 games a season ago for Bridgeport, Holmstrom has three goals, and two assist this season. More often than not, the winger has skated alongside William Dufour and Aatu Räty.
The Islanders could use an extra right winger because Josh Bailey has been a healthy scratch twice this season, while Anthony Beauvillier has already been scratched once and could be one again based on his struggles. Both have the ability to play the left or the right wing position, with Bailey being used more on the left, either alongside Mathew Barzal or Jean-Gabriel Pageau, while Beauvillier has been skating on the right of Brock Nelson more often than not.
Ross Johnston, who the Islanders kept in favor of Kieffer Bellows (claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers) and now Soshnikov, has been used in the left winger spot more often as well, something to keep in mind.
Lane Lambert had said that everyone is healthy, but if someone was indeed hurt, the Islanders would never have placed Soshnikov on waivers. They would have done what they have done all season long, by placing that said player on IR to create a roster spot.
Now, it’s very possible that Soshnikov is not happy with his lack of playing time and wants to have his contract terminated so he can go back to the KHL. He would need to be placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract termination, which should come tomorrow if that is indeed the case.
We shall see who the New York Islanders do call up on Wednesday if they call up anyone.
But if the New York Islanders do, will the new call-up be in the lineup when the New York Islanders face the Nashville Predators this Thursday?