No team claimed Josh Ho-Sang when the Islanders placed the former first-round pick on waivers earlier this week, the only cost being his one-year deal that pays $874,125 in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL.
Now Ho-Sang has requested a trade, president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Thursday.
After Ho-Sang cleared waivers, the Islanders reassigned him to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport on Tuesday. The Sound Tigers had Wednesday off, and Ho-Sang, 23, the 28th overall pick in 2014, did not join them for Thursday’s practice.
“Josh did not intentionally not report,” Lamoriello said. “What has transpired is his rep has simplistically and in a very respectful way because of what has transpired over the last few years, would we entertain if another team would possibly be interested in Josh.
“I took a step back and said I would do that,” Lamoriello added. “The rep said Josh would do whatever was asked of him. I asked him not to report until I explored that request. It’s going to take a few days.”
The Sound Tigers will open their regular season on Saturday at Springfield. Lamoriello said that until the situation is resolved, he does not want Ho-Sang around the team to cause a potential distraction.
Lamoriello said Ho-Sang will play in the Islanders’ organization or in another NHL organization this season and that he has not considered allowing Ho-Sang to play in Europe.
“Once he goes to Bridgeport, he’s there,” Lamoriello said. “He will be playing hockey somewhere, whether it’s Bridgeport, where he is a recallable player.”
Ho-Sang had one assist in three NHL preseason games and also showed a newfound respect for the requisite defensive responsibilities, a part of his game absent in past seasons.
He has elite playmaking and skating ability but has managed only seven goals and 17 assists in 53 career NHL games, including a goal and an assist in 10 games last season. Instead, he’s spent the bulk of the past three seasons with Bridgeport.
“Obviously, a very skilled, good player and a misunderstood, smart young guy,” said defenseman Thomas Hickey, who practiced with Bridgeport for the first time on Thursday after clearing waivers on Tuesday. “Whether it’s here or somewhere else, I wish him the best. Hopefully it’s here. It would be good to have him back.”
Ho-Sang often made news more for his off-ice actions in past seasons — oversleeping on the first day of his first training camp and immediately being sent back to his junior hockey team by then-GM Garth Snow — but coach Barry Trotz said this year was Ho-Sang’s “best camp.”
“He was consistent,” Trotz said after the decision was made to waive Ho-Sang. “His attention to detail was much better.”
Lamoriello said on Thursday that Ho-Sang has done nothing wrong by requesting a trade.
“Even though you know you’re being fair and honest with a player, sometimes they don’t see it that way,” he said. “So we take a step back and see what’s out there. Then you can look somebody in the eye and say, ‘It is what it is.’ ”
Any trade return for Ho-Sang is likely to be minimal — a fifth- or sixth-round pick or another minor-league player.
It’s likely that Lamoriello already has tried to move Ho-Sang, whether at last season’s trade deadline or before the Islanders placed him on waivers. Lamoriello would not address that.
But if that was the case, there have been no takers thus far.
Lamoriello said he did not anticipate Ho-Sang’s trade request.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said. “I didn’t think of it, but I understand it.”
With Brian Heyman
in Bridgeport, Connecticut