Cole Bardreau wasn’t sure he’d get another shot at playing in the NHL.
“When you get to be my age, you think your opportunity might be gone,” said Bardreau, 29. “You’re not going to get another look at it. So I’m just trying to stay in the moment.”
Bardreau made his season debut for the Islanders as they faced the Predators at UBS Arena on Friday after he and fellow AHL stalwart Hudson Fasching were recalled from the team’s affiliate in Bridgeport on Thursday.
The Islanders’ forward depth has been depleted with Kyle Palmieri (upper body) on injured reserve and Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) listed as day-to-day.
Josh Bailey, who missed Tuesday’s 3-1 loss in Philadelphia with an upper-body injury, was able to play Friday night after coach Lane Lambert called him a game-time decision.
That denied Fasching a chance to make his Islanders’ debut, but he knows the routine. He’s used to shuttling between the AHL and the NHL.
The 6-3, 204-pound Fasching — who signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Islanders worth $750,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL as an unrestricted free agent — played 16 games for the Coyotes the previous two seasons while spending the bulk of his time in that organization in the AHL with Tucson.
“It means a lot,” Fasching said of this call-up. “To be part of a new organization, to have this opportunity, it means everything. It’s what we work for in this sport, to try to get called to the highest level and to try and perform at that level.”
Fasching, who was born in Milwaukee and played for the University of Minnesota, has seven goals and four assists in 18 games for Bridgeport. He described himself as a power forward who plays a simple north-south game.
Fasching was a fourth-round pick of the Kings in 2013 and made his NHL debut in 2016 with the Sabres. He entered Friday with one goal and two assists in 38 NHL games.
“I think they’re just looking for somebody who is a steady call-up guy, can come in and perform right away,” Fasching said. “I think I’ve been able to prove that. My track record with Arizona, I’ve been able to hop right into the lineup and be effective and be trustworthy right off the bat. So that’s something I’m trying to stay true to.
“They want low maintenance, for lack of a better word. I think that’s something I can do. I can step right in. I’ve had enough call-up experience. I’ve done this a few times, up and down quite a bit with Arizona last year.”
That’s what Lambert wants from both Fasching and Bardreau.
“He’s an energy guy,” Lambert said of Bardreau. “He skates well. He’s got speed. He’s physical. He can kill penalties. So he’s a pretty reliable player.”
Bardreau, who skated in Clutterbuck’s spot on Casey Cizikas’ line with Matt Martin, is much more of a known commodity to the Islanders’ coaching staff.
Bardreau, who is from Fairport, New York, played his only 10 NHL games for the Islanders in 2019-20, notching his lone NHL goal on a penalty shot.
“It wasn’t the prettiest shot,” Bardreau said of the winner in a 4-1 victory over the Senators at Barclays Center on Nov. 5, 2019. “It’s one I won’t forget.”
Bardreau joined the Islanders in 2019-20 after five seasons in the Flyers’ organization coming out of Cornell. He has five goals and four assists in 19 games for Bridgeport this season.