Prior to the Olympic Break, veteran forward Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders was injured in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Nielsen was slashed by Erik Johnson in a play along the boards, which resulted in him breaking his hand.
Nielsen currently centers the second line for the Islanders and is having his best season yet in terms of scoring. He is also an excellent penalty killer, and is considered to be the best defensive forward on the Islanders. Sources say he can be out anywhere from two weeks to a month when regular season play returns. Can the Islanders survive without him?
My answer to this question is simple: they are already out of the playoff hunt, so it doesn’t really matter. The Islanders have been playing without a pulse for the past two weeks, and the team will be trading two of their best players, Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek, before the trade deadline. The Islanders sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division, and barring some miracle, they will not be able to accumulate enough points to secure a wild card spot.
This is the perfect opportunity for the Islanders to call up Ryan Strome and see what he can do. Strome is having a terrific season in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and is the Islanders’ most touted offensive prospect. Giving Strome an opportunity to play top-six minutes would not only be helpful for his development, but would be a smart financial move for Islanders’ owner Charles Wang.
The fans are aware that the games left to be played have no meaning, but are still excited about the Islanders’ young prospects, especially Strome. Calling Strome up could improve attendance at the Nassau Coliseum for the last part of the season and give the fans something to cheer for.
Strome displayed the glimpses of the skills he had when he was called up earlier in the year, and he will only get better with more ice time. The Islanders have a chance to make the best out of an unfortunate situation by calling up Strome when the Olympic break comes to an end.