One-year deal gives Josh Ho-Sang another shot with Islanders
Enigmatic prospect avoids arbitration
Talent isn’t everything.
Especially when you don’t even get a chance to prove how talented you truly are.
Josh Ho-Sang, once a prized prospect in the New York Islanders’ organization and selected 28th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, may be getting his chance to show off some of his formidable hockey skills next season.
If, of course, he can tame his emotions and let his play do most of the talking.
“I’m more emotional than most people,” the 24-year-old Toronto native once said.
“That poses a problem for the hockey world. A lot of players are trained to hold their emotions…. I love to dangle. I love to play an offensive game. I love to celebrate when I score.”
As much as Ho-Sang might like these aspects of his game, they haven’t translated into results in the NHL.
The right wing has played in only 10 games for the Isles over the past two campaigns, including none last year when he was loaned to the St. Louis Blues organization in February before New York went on an historic run to the Eastern Conference finals.
Facing an arbitration hearing at the end of this week as a restricted free agent, Ho-Sang got a reprieve Tuesday morning when Isles team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello extended an olive branch to the once-coveted winger.
The Hall of Fame executive inked Ho-Sang to a one-year, two-way deal worth up to $700,000 if he plays with the Isles.
“Josh is ready to give everything he has to earn a spot in the National Hockey League,” a statement to the New York Post from Ho-Sang’s agent, Patrick Bedell, read.
“This contract provides him with some financial security at the AHL level, but he intends to force his way into an NHL line-up.”
Ho-Sang hasn’t been able to do much of that during the past four years, logging just 53 career games with the big league club while bouncing up and mostly down between the Isles and the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The former junior star, who was only 18 when he was drafted, never quite saw eye-to-eye with the team’s previous brain trust, since-departed general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight.
But entering the 2018-19 season, Ho-Sang felt he had an opportunity to prove himself to Lamoriello and Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz.
“It’s all been positive,” he said of his relationship with the Isles’ leadership group.
“Every conversation I’ve had with them since the moment that they became a part of this organization has just been teaching,” he added. “I’m taking everything they say and implementing it into my daily routines, on-ice routines at the rink, everything and it’s a work in progress, but I’m working really hard.”
That hard work only resulted in Ho-Sang’s brief 10-game stint in the first season of the new regime.
Last year, he played 16 games at Bridgeport and five for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in the Blues’ organization after requesting a trade from New York via his former agent.
But the former first-rounder somehow got a reprieve from Lamoriello and is doubtlessly excited to cash in on it by making the team out of training camp for the start of the 2021 campaign, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on Jan. 1.
“We believe this contract best allows for [Josh to return to the NHL] as well,” Bidell added. “There was interest from teams overseas, but again, at the end of the day, Josh’s focus is being a contributor for an NHL team.
“Conversations with the Islanders in furtherance of this deal were strong, and no matter how the upcoming season shakes out, we are focused on achieving our goals. Josh would like to thank the Islanders for believing in him.”
Believing in Ho-Sang hasn’t gotten the Isles much in the way of on-the-ice production.
However, it’s ultimately up to the player to prove he belongs.
And Ho-Sang is fortunate to get this one last shot to do so for a team that has aspirations of hanging its fifth Stanley Cup banner next year.
Isle Have Another: Lamoriello also re-signed minor league restricted free agents A.J. Greer, a forward acquired from Colorado earlier this month, as well as defensemen Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon. All three also agreed to two-way deals like Ho-Sang.