The New York Islanders are trying it one last time with Josh Ho-Sang.
Yesterday the organization and Ho-Sang, who was a restricted free agent, settled on a deal before the 24-year-old was set to go to arbitration Friday.
The deal was for $700K and 225K.
The agreement from both sides came as a shock to some especially after g.m. Lou Lamoriello’s comments about the situation last week. But as I pointed out a few weeks ago —when Ho-Sang was one of the RFA’s qualified by the Islanders — there still something there between the two parties.
The question that remains now is will Ho-Sang finally get it?
This might be his last chance at salvaging his pro career. For him to do so as a part of the Islanders would be quite the turnaround after the road the team and player have been down.
To say the relationship between Ho-Sang and the Islanders has been anything but rocky would be putting it nicely.
It began the moment the team drafted him in 2014.
Then Isles’ general manager at the time, Garth Snow, received criticism from pundits on Ho-Sang who was said to have been a possible top-5 pick if not for character issues. Ho-Sang then overslept on the first day of training camp in 2015 and was immediately sent back to juniors.
Even after he sparked the club at the end of the ‘16-‘17 season, Ho-Sang got sent back to the AHL early on the following season and wasn’t called back up. The maligned forward got another short stint up with the Isles two years ago, but only lasted ten games.
Last year seemed like it would be the final straw when the 24-year-old requested Isles g.m. Lou Lamoriello to trade him after he was the last forward cut before the regular season. Lamoriello told Ho-Sang to stay home while he tried to find a suitor, but to no avail. Ho-Sang eventually returned to the team, settling in Bridgeport in December after the Islanders lent prospect Oliver Wahlstrom to Team USA for the World Juniors.
There’s been other infractions along the way, but those are in the past.
Now, the ball is in Ho-Sang’s court.
The team has showed their faith in him. And as his agent Patrick Bedell noted yesterday, he’s ready to do anything to play for the Islanders this coming season.
“Josh is ready to give everything he has to earn a spot in the National Hockey League. This contract provides him with some financial security at the AHL level, but he intends to force his way into an NHL line-up,” Bedell told the New York Post’s Mollie Walker.
“We believe this contract best allows for that as well. There was interest from teams overseas, but again, at the end of the day, Josh’s focus is being a contributor for an NHL team. Conversations with the Islanders in furtherance of this deal were strong, and no matter how the upcoming season shakes out, we are focused on achieving our goals. Josh would like to thank the Islanders for believing in him.”
Just hearing those words are a very encouraging sign and a far cry from some of the things Ho-Sang has said in the past. Maybe now he does finally understand what it will take to be a regular in the NHL.
But actions speak louder than words.
He’s going to have to prove it to Lamoriello, Barry Trotz and the rest of the staff.
There are a lot of people who still believe he can be a big part of the Islanders moving forward and helping them continue their recent success. We all know how talented and skilled Ho-Sang is, and the proof is there that the team plays well with him around. It needs to translate even more now — if he does make the team — especially with the Isles coming off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
No other organization would stuck with Ho-Sang as long as the Islanders have. They believe he can be a difference maker.
That means something.
These next few months will tell if Josh Ho-Sang has any part in the future of the Islanders.
This is his final chance. He knows it. Everyone else does too.
Maybe he finally gets it now.