The next-man-up mentality applies to the Islanders as much as it does any other NHL club. Still, there’s no doubt losing a top-line player, if that is the case, is a big roster hole to fill.
The Islanders did not practice on Sunday so there was no update on right wing Jordan Eberle’s status in advance of Monday’s matinee against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
Eberle appeared to hurt his right leg on a late third-period check from defenseman Mike Matheson in Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Eberle skated in obvious pain to the bench at 17:26 and did not take another shift, though he did not retreat to the dressing room.
“I couldn’t give a time frame,” coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “He got hit in a strange spot. We’ll evaluate it.
“It’s a hole, that’s for sure,” Trotz added when asked about Eberle’s potential absence. “That’s the way we play. The next guy up is going to have to get the job done.”
Eberle agreed to a five-year, $27.5 million deal in the offseason after leading the Islanders with four goals and five assists in eight playoff games in the spring.
It was unclear on Sunday who that next man might be if Eberle, who has three assists in five games, including one against the Panthers, is going to miss time. Or how Trotz might reconfigure his lines again after the top line of Mathew Barzal centering Eberle and captain Anders Lee was the only one left intact to start Saturday’s game.
One intriguing possibility, though, is Oliver Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018 who has a power forward’s body at 6-2, 209 pounds and a shooter’s mentality. Wahlstrom, starting his first full professional season and reassigned to the AHL after training camp, has a goal and two assists in four games for Bridgeport.
The Islanders certainly selected him with the hope he would develop into a top-six forward in the NHL.
That, too, was the idea when the Islanders took Josh Ho-Sang 28th overall in 2014. But the offensively talented, if mercurial, Ho-Sang has not yet reported to Bridgeport per president and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s instructions after Ho-Sang did not make the Islanders’ season-opening roster and requested a trade.
The Islanders said on Friday there was no update on Ho-Sang’s situation.
On the current roster, Anthony Beauvillier, who has seen plenty of ice time with Barzal in the past and has started this season with two goals and two assists, would seem a logical candidate to take Eberle’s spot if needed.
The Islanders’ bottom six has been somewhat scrambled with fourth-line center Casey Cizikas missing the last two games with a lower-body issue. Leo Komarov has moved to Cizikas’, spot but the Islanders might also consider recalling reliable Tanner Fritz to center the fourth line and return Komarov to Derick Brassard’s right wing if Cizikas remains unavailable.