Andy Graziano and I have begun our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September.
6 foot, 173 pounds
21 years old
Contract: $3.333 m cap hit, signed through 2019-20 (UFA)
Season: 21 GP, 4 G - 6 A - 10 Pts, 12 PIM, 22 Shots, 16:27 TOI, 52.1 Corsi
Career: 21 GP, 4 G - 6 A - 10 Pts, 12 PIM, 22 Shots, 16:27 TOI, 52.1 Corsi
Remember last summer, when most of us thought we wouldn't see Ho-Sang in the NHL for at least another season? Sure seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Ho-Sang got the call to the big club last year and made quite an impression in just 21 NHL games, and now both the team and fans alike are banking on big things for his encore performance.
I was as shocked as anyone that Ho-Sang got the call when he did. Sure, he has numbers in the AHL that dictated it (10 goals, 26 assists in 50 games), but I thought that the organization was determined to go slowly with the 2014 first-round pick. And given the recent track record of the start-and-stops of Mathew Barzal and, to a lesser degree, Anthony Beauvillier, I wasn't expecting much more than a quick peak at JHS.
But once Ho-Sang made his debut, wearing his familiar number 66 that became so hilariously polarizing, it was clear to see why a franchise that has typically been so wishy-washy on calling up prospects went ahead and took the plunge for him.
Watching Ho-Sang carry the puck into the zone, with his blazing speed and dazzling stick handling, was a breath of fresh air. Seriously, after five months of dump-and-chase, it seemed like a revelation. Right out of the shoot, Ho-Sang got 17 minutes of ice time, and it was clear he wasn't going to give Doug Weight any reason to take him out of the lineup.
Despite an early hiccup (a minus-3 performance in Calgary in his third game), he picked himself up quickly and scored his first NHL goal two nights later in Edmonton. Once he got on the board, Ho-Sang totaled 10 points in 17 games: an impressive pace that could be attributed to a willingness to just put the puck on the net whenever possible.
Will he suffer from the high expectations that are surely coming his way this year? I wouldn't bank on it. Ho-Sang seems confident in himself and his game, and from what he showed last season, he has all the reason in the world to be.
IPB Grade: A. I don't care if it was only a quarter of a season or not, Ho-Sang was a huge factor in the Isles' second half resurgence. If he can repeat this small sample size over a full season, the Islanders have something special on their hands.