The Josh Ho-Sang saga on Long Island could finally be coming to a close.
Once considered one of the most talented prospects in hockey, Ho-Sang has failed to live up to the hype that made him a first-round pick, 28th overall, by the New York Islanders in 2014. But after playing just 53 games for the Islanders over the past three seasons and failing to make the cut out of camp this season, he requested a trade earlier this season. Ho-Sang has yet to suit up this season as a result, failing to report to the AHL and instead skating in Toronto over the past few weeks.
On Wednesday, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is working on moving the forward, and, frankly, a move can’t come soon enough. At this point, the longer the Islanders wait, the more it stands to hurt them as Ho-Sang hasn’t played a meaningful game since April and was fairly quiet in a five-game series against the AHL’s Hershey Bears. He was productive in Bridgeport last season, registering 43 points in 56 games, but Ho-Sang needs to get back into action soon.
Ideally, Ho-Sang would land with a club that could offer him the opportunity to be a top-six scorer, and his near half-point per game production suggests he can make an impact on the scoresheet. However, while skilled, Ho-Sang’s game is flawed. He struggles defensively and is prone to streaky play. Thus, he might be best suited to a spot alongside a responsible two-way center who can disguise Ho-Sang’s imperfections. In a checking role, which is what he was saddled with in New York, no team is going to get much out of him.
Here are five teams that could be good fits for Ho-Sang:
Ho-Sang for the rights to Jesse Puljujarvi. Make it happen. Ho-Sang could strengthen Edmonton’s right side, and the wings could use some extra loving despite the Oilers’ strong start to 2019-20. It’s extremely unlikely Puljujarvi will ever play a game again in Edmonton and after showing newfound confidence with Karpat in the Finnish League, Puljujarvi could be of value to the Islanders, even if he doesn’t return to the NHL until next season. The kicker? Ho-Sang was Connor McDavid’s finisher with the Toronto Marlboros minor midget club, and the pair was one of the most lethal scoring duos in GTHL history. (Ho-Sang actually out-scored McDavid in league play.) That was nearly a decade ago, but could a reunion spark Ho-Sang? A one-for-one for two talented prospects looking for a new home makes sense.
The Bruins are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and boast one of the best lines in the NHL in David Pastrnak (17 points), Brad Marchand (14 points) and Patrice Bergeron (eight points). But Brett Ritchie, who has three points, is fourth in scoring among Bruins forwards, and Ritchie and Danton Heinen are the only players not on the top line with more than a single goal. Depth scoring is an issue in Boston, and acquiring someone like Ho-Sang could help boost a group of right wingers that doesn’t have ideal depth options after Pastrnak. It’s a good buy-low option for Boston, and the Bruins can potentially offer a draft pick or a mid-range prospect to acquire Ho-Sang.
The Coyotes have been scoring by committee this season, and Ho-Sang would be a worthwhile addition to a young team without a lot of top-end skill. Vinnie Hinostroza has disappointed with just two points in eight games and he isn’t doing much to drive the third line. It’s also clear that Christian Fischer has fallen out of favor in Arizona, landing on the fourth line after seeing his offensive production fall from 33 points in 2017-18 to 18 last season. Fischer has good size and could fill a fourth-line role on a playoff contender in New York. If not, the Coyotes could flip Lawson Crouse, a once-promising prospect who, like Ho-Sang, hasn’t lived up to his potential.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported earlier this month that the Hurricanes have shown interest in adding a top-nine forward to the mix, namely Puljujarvi or Ho-Sang. Carolina would be an interesting trade partner for New York given the Hurricanes’ trade assets on the blueline, but is there room for Ho-Sang in the top-nine? The Hurricanes are currently utilizing 11 forwards and seven defensemen, and while Trevor Van Riemsdyk or Jake Bean would be valuable returns for the Islanders, but it’s finding a spot for Ho-Sang in Carolina that would be the challenge. One solution could be shifting Brock McGinn down the lineup and giving Ho-Sang a shot with Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov on the second line. The Hurricanes have the assets to make a deal work, including six draft picks in the first three rounds this season.
With over $7.5 million in cap space, the Sens easily have the room to acquire Ho-Sang and Ottawa is no stranger to taking a shot on another team’s castaway. Anthony Duclair played fantastic down the stretch for the Senators last season and Vladislav Namestnikov has turned his game around with a point-per-game through seven games with Ottawa in 2019-20. Ottawa has experimented with younger prospects this season to varying success, but they don’t need to rush the rebuild. Taking a chance on Ho-Sang is worth it, too, as it’s clear Bobby Ryan’s days as an effective scoring-winger are far behind him. Give Ho-Sang an opportunity to prove himself as a top-six scorer and Ottawa might be pleasantly surprised.
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