The New York Islanders have some big decisions to make before the expansion draft next year. One of these decisions is if they should protect Casey Cizikas. The talent and the attitude he brings to the team makes it obvious to protect him. But, there are other players on the team that has priority over him. Especially with Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin nearing their final days on the Island, it’s more of a reason why Cizikas will be in Seattle. That’s probably one of the worst-case scenarios for Islander fans. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say Cizikas heads to Seattle. Who can try to replace him?
Otto Koivula is one of the more puzzling prospects in the Islanders pool. He’s obviously improving every year since he was drafted, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. In 69 games with Bridgeport last year, Koivula recorded 21 goals and 25 assists. He also had 2 assists in 5 playoff games.
I think Koivula can replace Cizikas, just off his playing style. It’s very similar and very different at the same time. Having a guy like Casey Cizikas on the 4th line is energizing and exciting. Having a guy like Otto Koivula promises responsible yet boring Hockey. It’s not like Koivula can dangle and skate past anyone, he’s more of a grinder who gets in the corners and uses his shoulders well.
Otto Koivula is a nice power forward who has some dangles and can score consistently. But, he lacks the creativity to really make an impact in an NHL game. With the right coaching, this will change, luckily the Islanders only have Barry Trotz. Sometimes it feels like he’s really only out there skating. In 12 NHL games last year, he logged nothing but ice time and hits. Koivula has time to fix his game, as he probably won’t be needed this year, but he has to be ready soon.