Another day, another injury to deal with for the Islanders.
The team announced on Wednesday morning that they had placed Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Martin on injured reserve retroactive to October 25 and called up Otto Koivula.
The 6-foot-4 forward becomes the latest call up the Islanders have been forced to make since the team began the year. Oliver Wahlstrom and Cole Bardreau were both also brought up from AHL Bridgeport because of injury.
Koivula joins the Islanders, who have won seven straight games, with a lot of promise in his game. He had an impressive preseason, which saw him score a goal and was a plus-2. In the faceoff circle, he was strong in three preseason contests winning 60 percent of the faceoffs he took.
This season with Bridgeport, Koivula has two assists over six games.
“I like Otto of what I saw in the preseason,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz told Newsday. “He’s a lot younger than people think. He’s a big body. His hockey sense, especially on just playing the game the right way, he’s intelligent that way. Just getting the quickness and the foot speed going, it takes those young, big guys a little bit longer.”
Coincidentally, Koivula himself had missed two weeks this season with an upper-body injury.
Koivula’s style is something similar to that of former Islander center Valtteri Filppula. He is a strong, physical player who does under the radar things to be successful against NHL talent.
Unlike Filppula, Koivula seems to have more of a knack for lighting the lamp, but similar to Filppula, the young forward has strong hands. He put those on display several times last season with the Sound Tigers when he had 21 goals and 25 assists.
Koivula has been used as a centerman while down in Bridgeport and it would seem that the Islanders would use him in a similar spot if he cracks the lineup. He was seen practicing on a line with Wahlstrom and Ross Johnston, while rotating with Bardreau at center.
Regardless of how he plays, Koivula will most likely end up back in Bridgeport when players begin to return from injury. What he does with the playing time he is given will dictate his future at the NHL level, and that starts on Friday when Koivula could be in the Islanders’ lineup.