We do not know when the NHL lockout will end, we do not know what pre-season player movement and general cap-compliance chaos its end will create, and we do not know the specifics of how a new CBA will handle players assigned to CHL junior leagues.
But we do know that Brenden Kichton is an overage junior who is both captain of his Spokane squad and probably overripe for the WHL, and we know that Calvin de Haan is out for the season thanks to his dislocated shoulder.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers still have seven defensemen -- with Nathan McIver, Matt Donovan and Marc Cantin each receiving scratches in the early going -- so at the moment there is no crisis until the next two injuries.
However, if the NHL ever resumes play...
Travis Hamonic will return to the New York Islanders and it's likely at least one other defenseman -- at one time it looked like a battle between de Haan, Donovan and Aaron Ness or Ty Wishart -- would claim an NHL opening.
Prospect-gazing fans are used to the notion that when prospects are returned to juniors they can't be recalled except for NHL emergency situations, but the pertinent CBA clauses (and the double-secret NHL-CHL agreement, aka the "Keep Nino in Limbo" agreement) deal with age 18 and 19 prospects. (Kichton is 20 and was drafted at age 19.)
The NHL reportedly reached a pre-lockout agreement with the CHL where certain 18- and 19-year-old junior prospects can be recalled if/when the lockout ends, and reportedly the Isles list included underagers Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart. But again, that shouldn't affect Kichton.
You see where we're going with this. The Sound Tigers under Brent Thompson (now an Isles assistant) were particularly adept at working the ECHL for replacements, so the options will be many. But one way or another, an end to the NHL lockout will mean the need for at least one more not-locked-out and not-AHL-assigned defenseman either at the NHL or AHL level.
Kichton was seen as a candidate for a contract this spring, though the anticipated labor stoppage and the resulting crowd on the Bridgeport blueline may have helped prevent that from happening.
If given the opportunity, would the Isles sign and recall Kichton -- a player whose reassignment forced Spokane to deal one of its overagers, but who they were all too happy to take back for a bonus year? And if the Isles could do this when play resumes and agreements are signed ... hell, would there be any reason not to?
Regardless, though a fractured jaw ended Kichton's WHL season in the playoffs last year, you can bet he'll be in a Sound Tigers uniform by the end of this season, assuming Bridgeport is still playing after Spokane is done.
At age 20, he's old enough. And he's due.