The NHL season is starting soon and one adjustment being made for the year is the implementation of taxi squads. Each team will have a group of four to six players who practice/travel with the team and could be called up, in the event of an injury, etc. Here’s a look at which players could be on the New York Islanders’ taxi squad for the season.
With Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin starting as the Islanders’ tandem in net, it’s pretty easy to predict the goaltender for the taxi squad. Cory Schneider is probably a lock to be the team’s third goalie, based on his NHL experience. He’d be the team’s best bet, should a third goalie be called into action.
On defense, we can assume the following players will have lineup spots: Noah Dobson, Andy Greene, Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. The team will need at least one spare on the roster and that could be either Sebastian Aho or Thomas Hickey. Whoever doesn’t make the roster is a pretty safe bet for the taxi squad. For the second taxi squad defender, we’re probably looking at either Grant Hutton or Parker Wotherspoon (though I’d bet it would be Hutton).
Up front, we know 11 forwards will have spots in the lineup: Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Jordan Eberle, Leo Komarov Anders Lee, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Kieffer Bellows could have a shot at winning the final spot or we could see Michael Dal Colle back on the third line. Oliver Wahlstrom could potentially impress in camp and compete for a spot but there’s no reason to push him to take on a role right now and starting him back in the AHL could be better for his development.
On top of that, Ross Johnston will likely be a spare on the roster. If Kieffer Bellows doesn’t make the team and Dal Colle takes a spot in the lineup, Dmytro Timashov could be the final spare (once signed). If Bellows does make the team, however, Dmytro Timashov could get bumped off the roster and onto the taxi squad. Other likely options for forwards on the taxi squad include Andrew Ladd and Austin Czarnik, based on NHL experience. I’d also imagine that if Bellows doesn’t make the team, he’ll be in the AHL for more development, rather than on the taxi squad (same goes for Otto Koivula).
So here’s the rough projection:
Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Austin Czarnik, Dmytro Timashov (once signed)
Defense: Thomas Hickey/Sebastian Aho, Grant Hutton
Goalie: Cory Schneider
If Bellows doesn’t make the team and the Islanders use one of those three forwards as a spare on the roster (likely Timashov), perhaps A.J. Greer, who also has some NHL experience, could be placed on the taxi squad.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):