Remember Robin Salo? The defenseman taken in the second round of the 2017 draft who’s not at all related to former Islanders goalie Tommy Salo (Tommy is Swedish. Robin is Finnish)? No? C’mon, sure you do. Islanders fans never forget anything.
Well, Salo and the Islanders agreed to terms on a two-year entry level contract today. Salo, 22, was “reassigned” to Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), which is convenient since he was playing for Orebro already.
Here are the contract terms, courtesy of CapFriendly.com. His AAV for the two seasons comes in just over $900K.
His offensive number over the last couple of seasons, mainly with SaiPa of Liiga in Finland, weren’t impressive. But this year with Orebro, Salo has taken a big leap, racking up 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in 39 games. Some of those plays have been darn tasty, too.
He also has an extensive history of international play, representing Finland in five tournaments including the World Juniors Championship.
Back in 2018, a year after he was drafted, our panel of experts ranked him No. 24 on our Top 25 Under 25, and he had had a multi-point night in a scrimmage at that year’s prospect camp. Salo even got a write-up at The Athletic by prospect watcher Scott Wheeler, who included him in Wheeler’s series on “The Gifted.”
Is Salo, “gifted?” Frankly, I have no idea. But from this description, it sure sounds like he’s the type of defenseman Barry Trotz will love.
There’s a simplicity to his game that has helped him carve out a real niche for himself as a minute-eating defenceman in two of Europe’s top three pro leagues at a young age.
He can make plays. That’s evidenced in the many sequences I highlighted off the top. But he knows his limits and he’s comfortable simplifying his game when he has to.
He’s the kind of player that recognizes when three opposing forwards are high in the zone and responds to that by pushing the puck down low to help create a numbers advantage – and eventually a goal – with the simplest of plays, the dump.
I don’t know if this signing will mean anything for this shortened NHL season, but it certainly means something for next season. Adding another solid young defenseman is never a bad thing (especially when they’re on a cheap contract).