The New York Islanders have dealt with a handful of injuries this season, and it’s played a pivotal role in their inability to be consistently effective.
Right now, the Islanders have the following players out of the lineup:
- Adam Pelech (IR)
- Kyle Palmieri (IR)
- Hudson Fasching
- Cal Clutterbuck (IR)
- Oliver Wahlstrom (IR)
Noah Dobson appeared to injury himself late in Saturday’s game. No update has been provided. Unrelated or maybe related, Samuel Bolduc has been recalled, per media site.
While the updates on all of them have been minimal in terms of information, here’s our updates based on team skates and some in-between-the-line reading:
Pelech’s Hold Up
Since being on the receiving end of a dangerous hit by St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on Dec. 6, Adam Pelech has missed the New York Islanders’ last 21 games. And the hole and roles he plays has been unfillable.
Classified as an upper-body injury, it’s clear by the replay that Pelech banged his head on the boards. Head injuries are different for everybody, and it’s understandable why the Islanders are being cautious with one of, if not their most valuable asset.
On Jan. 9, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert shared that Pelech had been skating on his own for a few days, a positive sign after radio silence.
A few days later, on Jan. 12, Pelech took part in morning skate and has been on the ice since then, taking strides each day.
Pelech has been taking rushes as the extra defense pairing, with either Parker Wotherspoon or, on Saturday, Dennis Cholowski. He joined the penalty kill unit at morning skate on Jan. 16 and has stayed part of that, which is a sure positive.
As for contact, no one has been physical with him. But the fact that the Islanders are comfortable with him potentially taking pucks to his body has to mean that he is close.
Before the Islanders 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday, Lambert said he’s hopeful Pelech could rejoin the group before the All-Star break (Islanders break starts Feb. 9) but “we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
The 28-year-old has three goals and eight assists, averaging 20:49 TOI in 27 games.
Palmieri’s Injury Complications
In a two-week span, Kyle Palmieri suffered what appeared to be two head injuries as he’s missed 17 straight games and 27 of the last 28. The first injury came after a collision with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly on Nov. 21 before being targeted by Arizona Coyotes Nick Ritchie in his return to the lineup on Dec. 16.
Palmieri took the trip out to Seattle and Western Canada on Jan. 1 and had made his way onto the ice at the end of their skates, but hadn’t taken part in a full practice until Jan. 11. He skated as an extra and has done so since.
He’s on the ice, like Pelech, before practice and seems to be on the ice the longest after practice.
While he also isn’t being up-ended at practice by any of his teammates, we did see Ross Johnston lay a nice hit on him, and he seemed to be just fine.
As we left the rink on Saturday morning, he was still on the ice, working with skills coach Troy Stevens.
We are not in the head of the player, but it could be a mental game as another concussion upon returning may not just be the end of his season but could affect his ability to continue playing moving forward.
Lambert included Palmieri in the same answer regarding the timeline that he gave for Pelech–hopefully before All-Star Break.
The 31-year-old has six goals and three assists, averaging 16:04 TOI in 21 games.
Hudson Fasching has been of the biggest bright spots of the season for the Islanders, as he’s gone from a minor-leaguer to a solidified NHL starter in this lineup. However, he was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury a few hours before the Islanders battled the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Fasching played the night before against the Boston Bruins and played the entirety of the game, so there’s no real answer as to what is ailing him and when he will be back. He’s currently listed as day-to-day, didn’t participate in Saturday’s morning skate, missing his second straight game later that night.
The positive news is that when the Islanders sent out their update on Cal Clutterbuck, Fasching wasn’t included, which likely means it is a minor injury.
In 19 games, Fasching has three goals and two assists, averaging 12:34 TOI.
Clutterbuck Continual Struggle to Stay Healthy
This season has been a nightmare for Cal Clutterbuck. After shoulder surgery ended his 2021-22 campaign in March, he missed opening night this season due to soreness and has missed 14 games due to various injuries. Those 14 games don’t count the handful of times he’s left mid-game.
Against the Sabres on Thursday, Clutterbuck left the game late in the second period after being slashed on the hand and has not been on the ice since.
He is out indefinitely and as of Sunday evening, was placed on IR.
At age 35, the concern for Clutterbuck goes farther than the sport but life after hockey. He’s been beaten up his entire career, given his play style, as he broke the record this season for most hits all time.
Clutterbuck has four goals and four assists in 34 games, averaging 12:09 TOI.
Wahlstrom Out Long-Term
And to the most confusing of the injuries, we get to Oliver Wahlstrom. The 22-year-old forward suffered what initially appeared to be an upper-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 27 after being cross-checked by P.O. Joseph after a big hit on defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.
However, after re-watching the replay numerous times, it appears that Wahlstrom’s right leg went in a different direction than his body, as it’s entirely possible he suffered a torn ACL on the play. But we aren’t doctors.
Huge hit by Oliver Wahlstrom, although he might have taken the worst of it pic.twitter.com/3n9ZUuPtqS
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 28, 2022
He has not been on the ice since, and there’s been no update given to us.
NYI Hockey Now asked Lambert recently if Wahlstrom had been able to skate on his own, but we were told that there’s no need to ask as he is out for a while.
Wahlstrom has seven goals and nine assists in 35 games, averaging 12:10 TOI.