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Grading the Islanders: Joe Callahan

With injuries forcing the Islanders to dress about 634 different players in 2008-09, we won't issue a grade for every single Tom, Dick and Colliton who managed a few games. But Joe Callahan, who made his NHL debut just before his 26th birthday, got into 18 games and acquitted himself ably. We'll give him a shout. (If you're reading this from the homepage, the rest of this recap is at the "Continue reading this post" link that appears after the poll. Other report cards are here.)

Joe Callahan

#26 / Defenseman / New York Islanders



Dec 20, 1982


Group VI UFA; 2008-09 figure - $575k

Surely we won't have so many injuries that we need to...

2008-09 Joe Callahan 18 0 2 2 5 4 22 39 14:59 1:55 6 0.0

Random Fact: Logged a season-high 19:09 in his 2nd NHL game, at Nashville, on his 26th birthday. Yeah, you could say this club had injuries.

"This is our concern, Dude" Fact: None, really. I mean, as Phoenix's 3rd-round pick (#70) in 2002, Callahan is what he is. The Massachusetts native and Yale product uses his size, isn't flashy, and can hold his own on a third pairing. Is his NHL window closing, or did he get a chance just in time to have one of those steady-unsung careers?

The Story: Callahan's a free agent again, with his third NHL organization, and the Islanders blueline is already stocked with NHL contracts. But the hockey gods have it out for Islanders defensemen in a big way, as someone (or two, or three) is always on the shelf with injury. Which is why Callahan was on a transaction yo-yo all season. So if Callahan is retained, you could see him getting some more games here and there. He's no minute muncher, but by the end of the season he'd earned Scott Gordon's trust more than, say, Thomas Pock. He put up a few points at AHL Bridgeport, too, with 4 goals and 13 points in 59 games, plus 1 goal and 2 assists in five playoff games.

The Good: Matchup-wise, Gordon protected him and frequent Bridgeport partner Jack Hillen, but +5 in 18 games on this lottery-winning team isn't half bad. Gordon also used Callahan on the PK when needed: In about 1:55 of PK time per game, his 6.53 goals against per 60 minutes (of 4-on-5) was better than his veteran teammates -- though granted, he played during the "good" half of the year, where everyone's stats improved. There is a place in this league for #6-7 defensemen who keep the coach happy by not screwing up.

The Bad: There were times when Callahan looked out of his element, or when he and Hillen made rookie mistakes (I remember a goal in the shootout loss to the Kings, in particular.). You wouldn't select them to shut down a top line. But hello -- they're rookies; those moments are to be expected.

No word on whether Callhan will be back with the organization, and in the event the Isles draft a certain towering Swedish blueliner, that would remove another slot on the depth chart. But there are worse options than having Callahan as your injury fill-in.

The Grade: I'm not sure if anyone outside of the Callahan family had preseason expectations for him at the NHL level, but some are far more attuned to the minors and prospects than I am (hmmm ... we need to recruit a farm expert around here...). But this is an Internet quasi-democracy, so you're encouraged to leave your vote/grade on Callahan's season, and -- as always -- leave a comment if you have more to say or if you find any of my recap insane.