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Land Aho! With Boychuk to IR, Islanders recall Swedish defenseman from Bridgeport

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Bad news but good news for this kid.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders
Yup. This one is ours.
Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

A day after he was mic’d up for MSG Networks, Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk was placed on the injured reserve list with a lower body injury that will keep him out, “week-to-week.”

With Calvin deHaan already out long-term with a shoulder injury, the Islanders are now down two of their top four defenders. For a team that’s prone to giving up 35-40 shots against per game, that’s sub-optimal to say the least.

To fill the void, they have recalled on loan 21-year-old Sebastian Aho from Bridgeport, who has transitioned comfortably in his first season in North America. Aho has 20 points (9g, 11a) in 29 games, and is second in goal scoring among defenseman in the AHL. He scored a hat trick against Providence back in November, becoming the first Bridgeport defenseman to accomplish the feat.

Not bad for a dude making his way in America after four years in the Swedish league.

“He’s coachable. His effort, everything he does, in practice he’s one of the hardest-working kids,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “It’s a credit to him. You can’t teach his offensive instincts and the way he does distribute the puck like that.”

Yes, there is the other Sebastian Aho - the Finnish guy who plays for the Hurricanes - that is no relation to this Sebastian Aho. It would be nice if one of them spelled his name with an “ien” instead of both going with “ian.” The Islanders and Carolina have already played two games against each other this season, but they have another one on Feb. 16. If Aho is still with the big club by then, it means either he has played very, very well or that Boychuk (or someone else) is very, very injured.

Aho is one of two Bridgeport defenseman having a good season. But Devon Toews, who was an AHL All Star last season, has a nagging injury that requires some maintenance day rest. Toews has 21 points (8g, 13a) in 30 games.

Heading into Friday night’s game in Winnipeg, we’re not sure right now if Aho will be in the lineup. I think we can safely assume that Ryan Pulock - who was a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s game against Buffalo, is a Manitoba native and played well alongside Nick Leddy when Boychuk was out a few games earlier this season - will draw back in. But with the gritty grittiness of gritty old n’ slow Dennis Seidenberg needing to be rotated in every once in a while (for grit), we’ll await Doug Weight’s eventual decision.