After spending the last three or so years in the New York Islanders‘ system, forward David Ullstrom now looks to start a new chapter in his career. Ullstrom won’t be back on Long Island next year, however, as he will be spending next season playing over in the KHL for Lokomotiv. This is going to be a great career move for Ullstrom, both as a player and a person.
Over the past couple of seasons, Ullstrom’s playing time has gone down, both at the NHL and the minor league level as well. He started by picking up 41 points in 67 games in the American Hockey League. The following year, 2011-12, Ullstrom split time between the minors and the Islanders. During his time with the Islanders that season, Ullstrom played 29 games, scoring four goals and four assists for eight points. Then this past season he scored five points on two goals and three assists in 20 games.
So with the amount of ice time going down for Ullstrom and with the odds of him not really making the team straight out of training camp, things didn’t look too good for the kid. See the thing that’s going against Ullstrom at the moment is going into training camp, he’ll have to compete against guys like Josh Bailey, Frans Neilsen, John Tavares, Marty Reasoner, Andres Lee, Ryan Strome, Keith Aucoin and Brock Nelson to try and get playing time at center in the big leagues. With that much talent and depth at the position, it would have been really tough to snag ice time in the NHL.
As much as this stings to lose a guy with talent like Ullstrom, it’s the best thing that can happen for this young guy in his career right now. By getting the opportunity to go get regular playing time over in Russia, it will allow him to come back to the NHL in better playing shape, give Ullstrom more big game experience, and allow him to grow more as a person and a player.
Yes, it is a sad day to see one of the Islanders’ bright young stars depart for Russia for the year, but it will only serve to better him as a hockey player. When he comes back to the Islanders, Ullstrom will be in a better position to challenge for regular playing time at the NHL level. Some Islanders fans are a tad upset that he won’t be back next year, and to a degree it’s understandable. But Ullstrom going overseas will make him better, and once he returns to the NHL, that make the Islanders a better hockey team.
Matthew Solomon Covers the Islanders for Rant Sports. You can follow me on Twitter.