TODAY'S PAPER
77° Good Afternoon
77° Good Afternoon
SportsHockeyIslanders

Thomas Hickey, Andrew Ladd itching to get in Islanders' lineup

It's almost like adding free agents at the trade deadline that don't cost a thing and know the system.

Islanders players congratulate defenseman Thomas Hickey after he

Islanders players congratulate defenseman Thomas Hickey after he scores against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 26, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CALGARY, Alberta — Speculation on how active Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello will be before Monday’s NHL trade deadline has ranged from extremely to not at all. At the very least, left wing Andrew Ladd and defenseman Thomas Hickey are ready to rejoin the team.

“Right now, they’re still day to day, but not today,” coach Barry Trotz said before the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders faced the Pacific Division-leading Flames on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Saddledome to open a three-game Western Canada swing.

Both Ladd, out since Nov. 15 with a suspected foot or ankle injury, and Hickey, out since Dec. 18 with a suspected head injury, remain on long-term injured reserve. But they completed a two-game conditioning assignment with Bridgeport over the weekend before rejoining the Islanders to travel west.

They know they are the trade-deadline acquisitions that cost the Islanders nothing.

“Yeah, I guess,” Hickey said. “I never felt that way but it’s funny how the timing works. It times out to when we’re ready and it’s good for a group that’s playing some great hockey. I think Andrew and myself will be great additions when they’re ready for us. It is good timing because we don’t have to give up anything and it’s not like we’re trying to fit in. We’ve been playing with these guys for years.”

“Personally, it’s been almost three and a half months and I’m just itching to get back and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Ladd added. “If I can come back and give us some energy and a boost and a different element to the lineup, then I’m excited to do that.”

How Trotz fits either back in remains to be seen.

Right now, it would seem Ladd, who has three goals and four assists in 14 games, has a clearer path back into the lineup, especially with rookie Michael Dal Colle re-assigned to Bridgeport.

Lamoriello’s priority heading into the deadline is believed to be a scoring forward who can bolster the power play. Ladd has filled that role in the past and during Tuesday’s practice at Saddledome he took turns with Tom Kuhnhackl working on second-line center Mathew Barzal’s wing along with Josh Bailey.

The left-shooting Hickey, who has four assists in 32 games, was skating on a second pair with Ryan Pulock when he was injured.

In the interim, left-shooting rookie Devon Toews has established himself in the lineup — the Islanders were 18-4-2 with him in the lineup entering Wednesday night’s game — and on the second power-play unit.

“He looks like he’s played all year,” Pulock said.

Left-shooting Adam Pelech, whose inconsistent play led to him being a healthy scratch four times through Jan. 12, has improved his game over the past month while skating with Pulock.

“I think Pelly is finding himself as a National League player on a regular basis,” Trotz said. “There’s firmness in his game. I think he’s getting that from confidence. He’s played very well, no question.”

Hickey understands the lineup challenge Trotz may soon face.

At the same time, he’s confident he can help the Islanders in their quest to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2016.

“(Toews) has played great,” Hickey said. “Up and down the lineup, everyone has played great. But I know I can come in and play great as well. Those decisions are not up to me. Those are for other people to sort out. Things have a way of sorting themselves out and at this time of the year, the more guys you have, the better.”

Here are the projected lineups

Islanders (35-17-6)

Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle

Tom Kuhnhackl-Mathew Barzal-Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier-Valtteri Filppula-Leo Komarov

Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield

Thomas Greiss (17-8-2, 2.20 goals-against average, .930 save percentage)

Flames (36-16-7)

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Matthew Tkachuk

Michael Frolik-Mikael Backlund-Elias Lindholm

Sam Bennett-Mark Jankowski-Austin Czarnik

Andrew Mangiapane-Derek Ryan-Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano-T.J. Brodie

Noah Hanifin-Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington-Rasmus Andersson

Mike Smith (16-11-2, 3.05, .892)

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports