LAS VEGAS — Patience poses no problem for Devon Toews.
The 24-year-old defenseman did not succumb to frustration after missing the final 3 1⁄2 months of last season to a shoulder injury. He didn’t sulk when, despite having a strong training camp, the Islanders reassigned him to Bridgeport to start this season, instead looking upon it as a chance to improve his game.
And he certainly wasn’t going to stew about not being in Thursday night’s lineup to make his NHL debut against the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena after flying cross country from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, (through Charlotte) the day before.
“I’ve learned to be positive, even through the negatives in life,” said Toews, a fourth-round pick in 2014 out of Quinnipiac. “Getting sent down was not the worst thing in the world. It was just another thing for me to go and learn.
“I want to help the team win in any way I can,” Toews added. “If I’m in the lineup, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I know mistakes are going to happen and there will be ups and downs and a learning curve. I’m just here to play my game and help the team win, whichever way that goes.”
The Islanders recalled the slick-skating, offensive-minded Toews — nicknamed “Laser” by AHL/NHL teammate Josh Ho-Sang — on Wednesday as they placed defenseman Thomas Hickey (upper body) on injured reserve. Toews participated in the Islanders’ morning skate as they continued a four-game road trip and will have a further chance to practice with the team in Dallas before Sunday night’s game against the Stars.
“He’s such a great skater in transporting the puck,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought he had a really good camp. We had some decisions to make as we had some veteran guys. We gave them the first look and it allowed him to recover from an injury last year and get in a number of games and get comfortable. We’ll get to see him in practice and then decide whether to put him in or not.”
Toews has five goals and 14 assists in 24 games for Bridgeport and his 11 points on the power play were tied for the third most among AHL defensemen.
“I feel like I’m progressing,” said Toews, who had eight goals and 14 assists in 30 games for Bridgeport before his season ended on Dec. 26, 2017. “I think my defensive zone play was probably the big question mark when I started pro. But [the coaching staff] has helped me to defend, positioning-wise.
“That shoulder injury last year was somewhat unfortunate,” Toews added. “In the end, it was successful, in a way, because the shoulder feels healthy and I feel ready for this opportunity.”
Toews had two assists in three preseason games for the Islanders as he played a confident game both at even strength and on the power play.
“He’ll help with the breakouts and then his offensive instincts can take over there,” defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “I’m excited to see him play. It’s fun having guys come up.”
The Islanders opted to sign Luca Sbisa to a one-year, $1.5-million contact as a seventh defenseman after the 28-year-old former Golden Knight came to training camp on a professional tryout offer.
“Everybody’s dream is to make the NHL roster so I guess there was a little bit of disappointment,” Toews said. “But the crew they have in Bridgeport is great. They helped me out with my game and I knew it was a great spot for me.”
Here are the projected lineups:
Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier-Mathew Barzal-Josh Bailey
Leo Komarov-Valtteri Filppula-Josh Ho-Sang
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Luca Sbisa-Scott Mayfield
Thomas Greiss (12-6-1, 2.50 goals-against average, .919 save percentage)
Golden Knights (19-15-2)
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Brandon Pirri-Paul Stastny-Alex Tuch
Oscar Lindberg-Cody Eakin-Ryan Carpenter
William Carrier-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb-Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore-Deryk Engelland
Nick Holden-Brad Hunt
Marc-Andre Fleury (19-10-2, 2.58, .907)