The New York Islanders held their first practice open to the public this morning. Several hundred fans attended. I was not one of them due to work, but I am excited to say that I should be at the scrimmage tomorrow night, and I will be on the Island for Opening Night! Tailgating is a must.
Anyways, the Islanders have continued their ways this morning, as they continue to go by the mantra “one team’s loss is our team’s gain.” It was a second day of waivers, and a second day in a row that the Islanders claimed a defenseman that could improve this team.
Thomas Hickey, meet the Islanders. Hickey is a former 4th-overall pick from 2007, and will be a welcome addition to an Islanders’ organization that is craving defensemen.
Since the 2009-10 season, the Islanders have created a list of several low-risk, high-reward players they have acquired in an attempt to improve the organization during their rebuild. Thomas Hickey joins this growing list of Islanders (past and present) that have been former first round picks in need of a change of scenery, including Rob Schremp, Michael Grabner, and the recently acquired Joe Finley. You can make the same argument for Ty Wishart, who was acquired in the Dwayne Roloson trade at the start of 2011.
Thomas Hickey joins the Islanders with his eye on a chance to stick to an NHL team. Like Schremp (EDM), Grabner (VAN/FLA), Wishart (SJ/TB), and Finley (WSH/BUF), Hickey didn’t have a place with the team that drafted him (LA) after being selected as the 4th-overall pick in 2007. Five years of development happened to be too many for the Kings, who are coming off a Stanley Cup season where they never needed his services.
With Hickey playing the role of another misfit who found his way to the Island, what did Garth see in Hickey that the Kings did not? Thomas is a strong skater, and uses his ability to move the puck and pressure offensive players in the neutral zone. Since his early days in the WHL, Hickey has rounded his game as two-way defenseman. At 5’11, Hickey plays bigger in his own zone than his size would indicate.
Thomas Hickey also provides offense from the blue-line, which generated nothing for the Islanders last season. Hickey has the potential to become a power-play quarterback, and the vision to move the puck up the ice cleanly. After last season, there’s no such thing as having too many guys who can move the puck out of the defensive zone.
Garth may have also seen Hickey as a leader and a winner. These are intangibles that every team covets, and throughout Garth’s tenure, the Islanders have chosen to draft character guys. The Islanders have drafted several players who have won championships at their levels, and several guys who have been (or become) captains of their teams. Hickey captained Team Canada to a gold-medal in 2009.
Hickey is yet to play an NHL game, and was slowed by two season-ending surgeries in his first two years in the AHL. Hickey’s health has rebounded, as he has played 186 games from the start of the 2010-11 season, including 33 games during 2012-13. In those 33 games, Hickey has scored 3 goals (2 PPG) and 9 assists. This comes one year after Hickey posted career highs with assists (23) and points (26) in 76 games played.
With Hickey’s health intact, the Islanders figure to give him a fair-shot to earn a roster spot with this team. Like Rob Schremp and Michael Grabner in past seasons, Thomas Hickey was swiped up right before the season’s start, so expect to see him at the Coliseum on Saturday or Monday. I’m not saying Hickey will be a superstar, but sometimes, it takes a player a little longer to develop. At 23 years of age, Hickey has a lot to prove, but also a lot to offer. The Islanders may have found a quality defenseman.
Thanks for reading. What do you think of the Islanders claiming Thomas Hickey?
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants