LAS VEGAS — Defenseman Devon Toews has impressed the Islanders’ organization with his puck-moving ability and offensive potential in everything but an NHL game, be it in summer prospect camps or training camps.
Now, the 24-year-old, selected in the fourth round in 2014, finally may play his first game for the Islanders. Toews was recalled from Bridgeport on Wednesday as defenseman Thomas Hickey (upper body) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Monday.
The Islanders continue a four-game road trip against the Golden Knights on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The move came hours before NHL holiday roster freeze went into effect Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. The roster freeze is in effect until Dec. 28 at 12:01 a.m. but does not preclude call-ups from the AHL.
Hickey went hard, back first, into the boards at 17:26 of the second period in the Islanders’ 4-1 win at Colorado on Monday night as he tried to check Tyson Jost. He appeared dazed on the ice and as he was helped to the Islanders’ room and did not skate on Tuesday.
Hickey, 29, in the first season of a four-year, $10-million extension, has four assists in 32 games and has worked with Ryan Pulock on the second defense pair.
Toews, like Hickey, is a left-handed shot who has five goals and 14 assists in 24 games for Bridgeport this season. He is a strong skater in addition to having above-average stickhandling skills and can quarterback a power play.
The Islanders are certainly paying for him to play at the NHL level as Toews, drafted out of Quinnipiac University and originally from Abbotsford, British Columbia, is in the first season of a two-year, one-way, $1.4-million deal.
Luca Sbisa, 28, a member of the expansion Golden Knights last season when they advanced to the Stanley Cup final and who agreed to a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Islanders after coming to training camp on a professional tryout, took Hickey’s spot in the lineup for Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at Arizona. Sbisa logged 15:29 and was credited with seven hits in just his sixth game of the season after being a healthy scratch the previous 13 games.
So, it’s not a given that Islanders coach Barry Trotz will insert Toews directly into the lineup against Vegas. But this is as close as the touted prospect has come to making his NHL debut.
The Islanders play at Dallas on Sunday before heading into the NHL’s Christmas break.