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Josh Ho-Sang still has some growing up to do, but he’s not wrong

Early last week, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple got a chance to head down to Bridgeport to catch up with some Sound Tigers as the Islanders’ season wanes down.  The player who we haven’t heard from much lately but were more than happy to get some insight on was Josh Ho-Sang.  Ho-Sang is still one of the Islanders’ top prospects, but he is slowly going down the same route Nino Niederreiter did during his first few years.  Niederreiter is now a perennial 20 goal scorer on a playoff bound Minnesota Wild team, after being used sparingly in his first few years on the Islanders, and playing minutes with guys like Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner.

Ho-Sang is very outspoken, part of the reason why he dropped to the bottom of the first round.  He was sent home immediately after oversleeping during his first Islanders’ training camp, and has had issues with defensive effort and offensive consistency.  Garth Snow drafted him knowing he was a work in progress, but Ho-Sang once again seems to have a target on his back.  Here is his full quote from Staple’s chat with him:

“I love those guys, I want to make that clear,” Ho-Sang said of his former Islanders teammates. “I know they’re working hard. But I got sent down for defense and what are they in goals against in the NHL? I only played (22) games up there this year. I don’t think it’s my fault. They really painted it like it was my fault at the beginning of the year and I didn’t like that.

“I do have things I need to work on down here, my game is far from perfect. It can constantly improve. But I do think a lot of the stuff was unwarranted, especially in terms of the rope that other people were given. I understand I have a history and that might be a factor. I don’t know. But it’s frustrating to me.”

Ho-Sang should absolutely not be calling out his teammates like that, especially some that he’s played with for a few years.  However, he’s not wrong in anything he said.  Guys like Brock Nelson who score the most unimpressive 20 goals every year get a pass because he’s a veteran.  Someone like Jason Chimera who should have been healthy scratched for most of the season was a staple in the lineup until he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Wagner.

Ho-Sang would not have made much of a difference on this disaster of a team, but it is puzzling why he wasn’t even given a shot considering his capabilities and offensive spark.  Could it really have gotten much worse?  He could have said it in a much more diplomatic way, but the young star is essentially saying “Why am I the only one being disciplined for bad defense when the entire team doesn’t know how to play it?”.  It’s an intriguing question, and one that will hopefully be answered next year.

Christian Arnold of Isles Insight got a response from head coach Doug Weight on Ho-Sang’s comments:

“We have never singled him out in that fashion There’s plenty of other things that have occurred over the time that are different than a lot of other players…I like him, so that was disappointing, but I get it. There’s frustration and I’m glad hopefully he got it off his chest, but we have to move forward and we have to do that face to face. That’s the last I want to discuss it.”

Weight was pretty blunt with his own comments, but also stated that he understands Ho-Sang’s frustration.  He actually went as far to say to his team that it speaks volumes when one of their own is criticizing their defensive play.  He also said that he’s invested more time in Ho-Sang than anyone thinks, breaking down each game with him to help him improve his game.  Islanders fans should understand both sides of the story, but it shouldn’t take a 22 year old prospect calling out your defense for you to realize that something is wrong.

At the end of the day, on most teams, it’s a non-issue.  However, on an Islanders team that’s on the cusp of either contending or going into a full rebuild depending on John Tavares’ decision this offseason, these kinds of things gets magnified.  What’s even more concerning is that this has happened before with other young prospects and Islander fans are conditioned to expect the worst.  Hopefully it works itself out, but don’t be surprised if the Josh Ho-Sang saga continues through next season.

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