By Jack Fenty
Going into the 2017-2018 regular season, all Islanders fans had big hopes for what Josh Ho-Sang could bring to the table that season. The 22-year-old was coming off a nice 21 game stretch last season, where he had 10 points in that stretch. Ho-Sang was one of the only bright spots over that stretch for the Tavares-less New York Islanders. This season was supposed to be his year to really show the organization and the rest of the league of how good he really was. From a kid who came late to training camp and was told to run the stairs of the Nassau Coliseum to a NHL star. Well it’s safe to say that has not happened…
Ho-sang played in 22 games earlier this year in which he tallied 12 points. Looking at those statistics does not tell the whole story though. There were three clear and significant problems within his play daily. 1) Turnovers. Josh was turning over the puck way too much all over the ice, many of these turnovers leading to goals. 2) Lack of defense. While watching the games it was easy to see that Ho-Sang was playing lazy in the defensive zone. 3) Long shifts. Ho-Sang was caught many times taking shifts that were well over a minute, which is too long at the NHL level. I first realized this when I was at the first game at MSG against the Rangers. Josh was on the ice for what felt like five straight minutes. I believe after that game head-coach Doug Weight made comments about it. So, to move the story along, Ho-Sang eventually got sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to work on his game. A couple of weeks later Ho-Sang was a healthy scratch for the Sound Tigers. Why are Isles fans flipping out about a 22-year-old kid getting sent down to the AHL, a non-Isles fan might ask?
The Islanders bottom six forwards have been horrendous the first half of the season, but to make matters worse, a lot of the Isles forwards have gotten or been injured. Kulemin, Cizikas, and Ladd are injured now and previously Josh Bailey but has recently returned to the lineup. To replace those guys players such as Shane Prince, Alan Quine, Tanner Fritz, Michael Dal Colle, and Ross Johnston have been inserted into the bottom two lines. This has been a nightmare.
So, here’s my take. The guys I listed above that are now in the bottom two lines are not NHL players. End of story. So, would I like to see Ho-Sang up with the big club? Of course, I do; but I do not want the Josh Ho-sang who played the way he did for the first 22 games of this season. So, my feeling is that Josh is down in Bridgeport making the same bonehead mistakes he did with the Islanders. A kid with this much skill does not just get benched for no reason. I still do see Ho-Sang potentially being called up, but he was to prove to the coaches he has cut down on his mistakes. I do not think the organization has given up on Josh Ho-sang either; they would have traded him by now if they did. Hopefully Ho-Sang will still pan out to be the great player we all expect.
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