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Top 25U25: #6 Josh Ho-Sang gets a fresh start

Josh Ho-Sang has had a rough time with the Islanders, but with a new head coach and new management, he may finally be able to get a role with the team.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders
New management will give Josh Ho-Sang a chance to erase the past.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Josh Ho-Sang’s time with the Islanders has been filled with highs and lows. There’s the day he was drafted, where the Isles decided to trade up to grab him, and then-GM Garth Snow responded to Ho-Sang’s critics by saying “they shit on me too,” showing what could then be seen as a shared chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.

It didn’t quite go smoothly from there, though, with Ho-Sang earning himself an early exit from training camp after arriving late to a practice, and then patiently awaiting a call-up while mediocre veterans earned major minutes. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Ho-Sang finally earned his call-up, and did pretty well with it, too. He seemed to create plays every time he was on the ice, and scored a decent 4 goals and 10 points in 21 games. He started the 2017-18 season with the Isles, where he had 2 goals and 12 points in 22 games (those 12 points coming in his first 16 games), but he appeared to be struggling more than he had been the season prior, getting him sent down and then recalled before some noticeable and detrimental defensive lapses that ultimately got him sent down for the rest of the NHL season.

However, when forward injuries hit and the Islanders needed to call up players from Bridgeport, Ho-Sang’s lackluster play back in the minors (he finished the season in Bridgeport and had 8 goals and 31 points in 50 games) meant that some other players such as Tanner Fritz, Ross Johnston, Michael Dal Colle, and Steve Bernier got NHL time rather than Ho-Sang. This didn’t sit well with Ho-Sang, who spoke with Arthur Staple for The Athletic and basically ripped the way the Islanders forced accountability, by pointing out that despite his “bad defense,” it’s not like it was in any way all on him given how poorly the team was doing anyway, and that he felt he could help the team offensively. Whether you agree with Ho-Sang or not, both the head coach and GM who felt he needed to stay down in Bridgeport are out now, though Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson, who notably has healthy scratched Ho-Sang and played him on the fourth line still remains in his position.

Ho-Sang’s skill has always dazzled in highlight reels and his fast skating and creativity are big parts of why fans are so excited about him and why they want to see him succeed. He’s also willing to speak his mind, which can be rare in hockey, but that has hurt him in the past. With new management and coaching, he’s being given an opportunity to start fresh and just be evaluated for who he is as a hockey player. That may be the best thing for Ho-Sang to make an impact in the NHL.



Ho-Sang had the second best individual penalty-differential rate at 5v5 among NHLers with 200+ minutes, drawing eight while taking one in 257 minutes. His 1.87 assists-per-60 edged out Connor McDavid for sixth best in the NHL this past season. In other words, if you were to pick out a random 45-second shift of 5v5 from each player's season, you would be just as likely to see Ho-Sang record an assist as McDavid. Yes, we are dealing with small sample sizes. Hopefully by next summer we will have a lot more NHL data.


Josh Ho-Sang is never going to score goals like a top 6F; therefore, if he is to pan out in the NHL as a top 6 RWer, he must be above average driving play, creating/setting up goal scoring opportunities for a goal scorer on his line, and...excel at the defensive side of the game (so the goal scorer on his line can take the risk and play down low). It's the latter that seems to hold him back. If he can ever master the defensive side of the game, he'll be a significant up-grade over Bailey, likely an All Star. A new start under Lou and Trotz might be just what Ho-Sang needed, but it could also be his last chance. The Islanders need him to pan out, but I'm not as confident in Ho-Sang panning out as I am in prospects I ranked above him.


Given how disfunctional the Islanders had been under Doug Weight, it's hard to tell who was screwing up more - Ho-Sang or the Islanders. Given that the Islanders let up the most shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances of any team in the league and that Weight was calling out Ho-Sang for his lack of defensive prowess, it seems like it was the Islanders. His numbers with the Islanders were good and hopefully they return this year or this ranking will be much worse in the next 25 under 25 (if he's still with the team at all).