COLUMBUS, Ohio — For now, the spot was going to 22-year-old Michael Dal Colle. But the final five games of the regular season will go a long way to determining what the Islanders lineup looks like for a presumptive Game 1 matchup in the playoffs.
Dal Colle returned from an eight-game stint as a healthy scratch and had another solid performance despite the team losing, 4-0, to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. The young winger took the place of Andrew Ladd, set to have surgery this week for a torn ACL in his left knee that should sideline him around five months.
There were a couple options for coach Barry Trotz — including veteran Tom Kuhnhackl and the towering Ross Johnston — but he looked to Dal Colle, who had played in only 23 NHL games this season. Trotz played him 15:09 in Ladd’s vacated spot, the right side of a line with Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson.
“I thought he did a really good job,” Trotz said. “They had a couple great rush chances, and he made some poise plays. I thought he was on the forecheck. … First game back, did a real good job fitting in that hole.”
Dal Colle, the No. 5-overall pick in 2014, is finally showing he might stick in the NHL. He said, “Anytime you’re in the lineup, you have to treat it like it’s your last game,” and that attitude has gotten Trotz’s attention.
“Going down the stretch here, we’re going to play the best players that we think,” Trotz said. “When you have a decision to make and you’re not sure which way to go, I will lean to the veteran, because you know what you get. But from my standpoint, if you feel confident in a person, it doesn’t really matter.”
Team president Lou Lamoriello has already used three of the four possible call-ups each team is allowed between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season, but he said there was no immediate plan to use the final one. That means offensively gifted winger Josh Ho-Sang remained with AHL Bridgeport.
“We have players here,” Lamoriello said.
It was reported by the Boston Globe that the Islanders’ No. 11-overall pick from 2018, Oliver Wahlstrom, would not return to Boston College after just completing his freshman season. The Islanders had no statement whether the high-scoring, 18-year-old winger was set to sign an entry-level deal with them, or explore other options for a year.
The club did sign college free-agent center Bobo Carpenter to a two-year, entry-level deal. This year’s captain at Boston University is the son of former Devils’ Stanley Cup-winning player and coach, Bobby Carpenter . Bobo has been in development camps with both the Islanders and Devils.
The deal starts next season, so it’s assumed Carpenter signed an amateur tryout to play out the rest of this season with AHL Bridgeport.