Connect with us

New York Islanders

Islanders Prospect Ruslan Iskhakov Waiting as Injuries Pile Up



Bridgeport Islanders forward Ruslan Iskhakov (Photo courtesy of Bridgeport Islanders Instagram)
Bridgeport Islanders forward Ruslan Iskhakov (Photo courtesy of Bridgeport Islanders Instagram)

AMTRAK — Following the 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert did not provide an update on Mathew Barzal.

The face of the franchise left the game with 13:55 to go in the opening frame after taking a hard hit from Boston forward Craig Smith along the boards deep in the Islanders zone.

No one on the NHL roster or in the minors can fill the void Barzal would leave behind if he has to miss any time. But there is one player that can match Barzal’s speed, and that’s 22-year-old forward Ruslan Iskhakov.

Throughout the Islanders injury-riddled last couple of months, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello called up four prospects who have made their NHL debuts, in Aatu Räty, Simon Holmstrom, William Dufour, and Parker Wotherspoon.

Iskhakov hasn’t received the call yet.

Right now, the Islanders have one roster spot open, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau on Injured Reserve, with the possibility that Josh Bailey (upper body) and now Barzal could join him–along with Oliver Wahlstrom (lower body) and Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) who are out indefinitely.

Iskhakov transitioned from center to winger this season, so he has that versatility.

In 45 games with the Bridgeport Islanders, his first taste of AHL hockey, the Islanders second round pick in 2018 has 10 goals and 26 assists.

Iskhakov was named AHL Player of the Month for October, with four goals and 10 assists in 10 games before being named an AHL All-Star, with nine goals and 22 assists through 41 games.

Over his last four games, Iskhakov has a goal and four assists.

On Saturday night, Bridgeport erased a 4-1 deficit against the Springfield Thunderbirds, the St. Louis Blues AHL affiliate, with Iskhakov scoring to make it a 4-3 game.

He then recorded the secondary assist on Dennis Cholowski’s tying goal, a power-play goal, with 56 seconds to play in regulation.

The concern with Iskhakov is his size, standing at five-foot-nine and 165 pounds. We saw during training camp that his size is a cause for concern, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

Earlier in the season, NYI Hockey Now caught up with Bridgeport captain Seth Helgeson who had this to say about Iskhakov.

“He’s a special player, and he’s special for us playing on that top line and on that top power-play unit. So what he’s doing is working. He just needs to continue with that consistency,” Helgeson said. “I think that is a big thing that kind of gets lost among younger guys. But, we have all the faith in the world with a guy like him and the rest of the young guys too.”

Iskhakov’s path to Bridgeport and the New York Islanders is a unique one.

Born in Moscow, Russia, he played collegiately at UConn from 2018-20, giving him North American hockey experience.

He appeared in 64 games scoring 15 goals while adding 27 assists.

Kale Howarth, a former teammate of Iskhakov at UConn, spoke on his skill:

Following his collegiate career, Iskhakov headed over to Liiga and playing for TPS for the 2020-21 season.

After a solid season, with 10 goals and 28 assists in 54 games, Iskhakov played in the DEL, the highest league in Germany, for the 2021-22 campaign, scoring seven goals and 15 assists in 25 games for the Mannheim Eagles.

And then he came to Bridgeport.

Back in May, the New York Islanders and Ruslan Iskhakov came to terms on his three-year entry-level contract.

All the other highly-touted prospects have been given a chance to show their skills this season, so now is the time if a call-up is needed–which seems incredibly likely–for Ruslan Iskhakov to get the chance.

Bridgeport Islanders play Sunday at 3 PM so we should know by then who is being recalled as the Islanders face the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Monday night.