The fact that Otto Koivula knew right away why his phone was ringing didn’t diminish the elation of getting his first NHL call-up.
“It was almost like jumping in the air,” the 21-year-old Finnish forward said on Wednesday in East Meadow after going through his first practice with the Islanders. “It’s so exciting to get the phone call. I knew right away what was going to happen. The general manager is not calling you for no reason. Right away, I called my parents.”
The injury-depleted Islanders recalled Koivula from their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport while placing forwards Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl on injured reserve retroactive to Friday when both suffered lower-body injuries in a 4-2 win at Ottawa. Both are expected to miss four to six weeks.
The Islanders (8-3-0), who have won seven straight, next play the Lightning on Friday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Forward Leo Komarov remained absent from practice on Wednesday and has missed four games because of illness. Right wing Jordan Eberle (IR/lower body) has not resumed skating with the team either.
“Right now, we’re just down to the nuts and bolts in terms of healthy bodies,” coach Barry Trotz said. “It makes sense we’ve got a little room to bring a healthy body in and Otto gives us that opportunity as a centerman. He can play wing. We just have an extra forward.
“I like Otto of what I saw in the preseason,” Trotz added. “He’s a lot younger than people think. He’s a big body. His hockey sense, especially on just playing the game the right way, he’s intelligent that way. Just getting the quickness and the foot speed going, it takes those young, big guys a little bit longer.”
The 6-4, 225-pound Koivula, selected in the fourth round in 2016, has two assists in six games for Bridgeport and had 21 goals and 25 assists in 69 games last season for the Sound Tigers, his first in North America.
Koivula played in Bridgeport’s last four games after missing two weeks with an upper-body injury.
“It was a hard week,” Koivula said. “I didn’t play that well. We lost all four games. But I think I will get better.”
Koivula has been used as a center at Bridgeport. At Wednesday’s practice, he rotated on a line with left wing Ross Johnston, rookie right wing Oliver Wahlstrom and rookie center Cole Bardreau, who has played four games for the ailing Komarov in his first NHL recall.
“I think they want to play me as a centerman,” Koivula said. “I can play winger if they need me to play. But I would like to play center.”
Notes & quotes: Rookie defenseman Noah Dobson missed practice because of illness. “It’s going around our team a little bit,” said Trotz, who does not expect Komarov to be available Friday or for Saturday night’s game at Buffalo . . . Trotz said there was no timetable yet for Eberle’s return. “I’ll probably have a better time frame when I see him practicing with the group.”
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