The New York Islanders have made their 2018-19 opening roster decisions, though they aren’t official until filed by the league deadline of 5 p.m. EDT.
Promising 24-year-old defenseman Devon Toews, who shined in Bridgeport last year before a season-ending injury, and shined in preseason, was loaned to the AHL Sound Tigers. He’ll be back, and hopefully soon, but at age 24 they’ve decided he needs regular high-end playing time rather than sitting while Barry Trotz figures out his defensive pairings.
Jan Kovar, the summer signing out of the KHL for $2.5 million, has also been assigned to Bridgeport. We’ll see if he can find his groove. He has had some outstanding seasons in the KHL with top-notch linemates; the question is what can he provide while not a feature of the top-six with the Isles.
Both Toews and are on one-way contracts (so they’ll still make full salary) but did not require waivers, which made them flexible pieces to demote as Barry Trotz tries to figure out his favored lineup. Those demotions combined with the long-expected placement of Andrew Ladd on injured reserve means...Tom Kuhnhackl is still with the team.
As noted yesterday, clearing waivers isn’t a guarantee that you’re headed to the minors, and that is the approach the Islanders have somewhat surprisingly taken here. (Also surprising, to me: Apparently lots of people expected Kühnhackl would be claimed.)
Because he cleared waivers, Kühnhackl actually still can be loaned to Bridgeport any time over the next 30 days (or before he plays 10 games) without requiring waivers again, even if he gets in some NHL games. So the Islanders have given themselves maximum roster flexibility here, if not maximum talent.
The answer that comes back, on Sbisa, on Komarov, on Filppula, is organization, in looking to change/improve culture, wanted to bring in good character guys who have been in winning programs. Management valuing that highly.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 2, 2018
Not debating merits, just passing along rationale. https://t.co/Koh76Ez0nT
So now it looks like we’re starting the season in Carolina with a 23-man roster of:
Beauvillier - Barzal - Bailey
Lee - Nelson - Eberle
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Komarov - Filppula - Fritz
extras: Johnston, Kühnhackl
Defense: Boychuk, Leddy, Hickey, Pulock, Pelech, Sbisa
Goalies: Lehner, Greiss
Meanwhile, down in Bridgeport, Toews is taking the move in stride. Michael Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post already has reaction from him — and also notes that Kovář now makes seven veterans (no really, in the legal sense rather than the “old guy who wins” sense) with the AHL team. You can only dress five a night.
If this rule is new to you — and it’s hardly been a consideration in Bridgeport’s history — here is the how and why:
Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a game, at least 13 must be qualified as “development players.” Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.
So, here’s to hoping Kovář actually gets to, well, play.