Bereft of healthy forwards and with nearly as much talent on their IR list as they have on the ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins trade talks included a call to their division rival New York Islanders to kick the tires on banished New York forward Josh Ho-Sang.
An NHL source familiar with the New York side told Pittsburgh Hockey Now that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has at least made contact with the New York Islanders regarding Ho-Sang who cleared waivers before the start of the regular season for the purpose of assigning him to Bridgeport of the AHL.
The source could not further characterize the conversation as serious or advanced. For now, it appears the conversation was initial contact.
Ho-Sang has reportedly requested a trade after being sent to the minors again. New York made him a first-round pick (28th overall) in 2015, but he was a controversial selection. Most experts projected Ho-Sang as a high pick but teams were concerned about his maturity. Ho-Sang showed up late in his first training camp and New York immediately demoted him. It’s been a struggle for him to earn trust in New York ever since.
The Toronto native has played 53 NHL games and scored 24 points (7g, 17a) but New York has mostly confined him to the AHL over the past three seasons. In 56 AHL games last season, Ho-Sang had 43 points, but just eight goals.
However, the young player has had a difficult time with New York as the organization has been especially tough on the player to prove a point.
It should be noted the information came from the Islanders side. Traditionally, GM Lou Lamoriello and crew are tight-lipped, however, the Ho-Sang situation will likely be solved by a parting and New York appears to be done with the forward.
Since Ho-Sang cleared waivers, the price does not figure to be high, except perhaps for a team in desperate need for healthy forwards and which is also in the same division.
The Penguins barebones lineup without Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad, Bryan Rust and Alex Galchenyuk has won two games in a row with simplified play and tactics, but the Penguins fourth line with AHL emergency callups Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson played less than eight minutes Saturday, and the line with Andrew Agozzino in place of Blandisi played less than two minutes Thursday.
Ho-Sang is in desperate need and want of a fresh start. It is not yet known if a Penguins trade is serious business or even if the price is affordable to the Penguins.