If mercurial former first-round pick Josh Ho-Sang has an opinion on the Islanders’ new leadership, he won’t be sharing it right now.
The team opted not to have Ho-Sang speak to the media during the Islanders’ prospect development camp from June 25 to June 30 and a follow-up interview request from Newsday also was denied last week.
That seems a pretty telling decision by management as the Islanders hope Ho-Sang, 22, the 28th overall pick in 2014, matures into a full-time NHL role this season.
Both sides now have a clean slate in the relationship.
“He’s got NHL skill, he’s got NHL ability,” new coach Barry Trotz said on Sirius XM NHL Network on July 5. “From my standpoint, there are certain expectations we are going to have for him on and off the ice. I think he realizes a lot of his things in the past, where he got himself in maybe a little bit of, I don’t want to say trouble, but just in a situation where he comes across maybe poorly, that’s just a young man who is just growing up.”
Last season, Ho-Sang criticized how the Islanders handled his development and he’s never been shy about expressing his views. Ho-Sang said when he was drafted in 2014, “I’m more emotional than most people, that poses a problem for the hockey world.”
The right wing also was immediately returned to Niagara (OHL), his junior team, on the first day of Islanders’ training camp in 2015 when he showed up late.
But Lou Lamoriello has replaced Garth Snow as president and general manager, and Trotz, after leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season, is now behind the Islanders’ bench instead of Doug Weight.
Ho-Sang started last season with the Islanders and had four assists in his first four games before being re-assigned to Bridgeport after his sixth game. Ho-Sang then had two goals and six assists over 16 additional NHL games, going scoreless in his last six, before being returned to the Sound Tigers. He compiled eight goals and 23 assists in 50 games for Bridgeport in his second professional season.
“I got to see the last two days of development camp and I’ve spent a couple of hours already with Josh,” Trotz said. “We talked about his game, his future, what he wants to do, what I expect. Things we can improve and some things that are said about Josh. He’s a talented, talented young man. He sees the game a little differently than some people and I think it’s getting a real balance of a dialogue with a young man like that, that I think the upside is tremendous.”
Ho-Sang should compete for a spot among the Islanders’ top six forwards during training camp in September after captain and top-line center John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77-million deal with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
This season is the last on Ho-Sang’s three-year, $3.4-million entry-level deal, making it a crucial one to determine his long-term future with the Islanders.
“I think there’s been a lot of growth from what I understand from the coaching staff in the Islanders’ organization,” Trotz said. “I talked to him and, to me, it’s finding out what makes him tick. It’s on us. He’s a tremendous talent. If we can put him in the lineup, he can give you some speed. He gives you some skill. He’s scored at every level. It’s just getting all the pieces in the right order for a young man who has the ability to play in the NHL.”
Buchberger gets new job. Former Islanders assistant coach Kelly Buchberger was announced on Monday as the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans (Western Hockey League). That leaves just assistant coach Scott Gomez and goalie coach Fred Brathwaite remaining from former coach Doug Weight’s staff from last season for new coach Barry Trotz. Lane Lambert has already been announced as the new associate coach.
Isles sign two. The Islanders announced on Monday restricted free agent defensemen Devon Toews and Kyle Burroughs each agreed to new deals.
Toews, 24, a fourth-round pick in 2014, agreed to a two-year deal and Burroughs, 23, a seventh-round pick in 2013, agreed to a two-year, two-way deal. Financial terms were not immediately available.
Toews was extended a qualifying offer of $874,125 while Burroughs’ qualifying offer was for $715,000.
Rangers sign five. The Rangers on Monday announced the signings of defensemen John Gilmour, Rob O’Gara and Chris Bigras and forwards Cristoval “Boo’’ Nieves and Steven Fogarty.
Gilmour reached agreement on a one-year deal, terms of which were not immediately available. The others all accepted their qualifying offers. O’Gara, a native of Nesconset, signed for $874,125, per CapFriendly.com. Bigras’ qualifying offer was $885,500. Nieves and Fogarty both signed for $708,750. — COLIN STEPHENSON