Over the last week, NHL teams have been offering professional tryouts, otherwise known as PTOs. The New York Islanders have not provided any free agent one yet, but that does not mean it will not happen before training camp begins on Sept. 21.
The New York Islanders may want to sign a defenseman to a PTO, given that there is still an opening on the third defenseman pairing alongside Scott Mayfield. The three likely candidates for that job are Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, and Dennis Cholowski.
Adding a veteran defenseman, even just at training camp, would increase competition, which is always a positive.
One free agent defenseman that some fans want the New York Islanders to take a flyer on is P.K. Subban, a 33-year-old defenseman whose game is trending in the wrong direction on both sides of the puck.
There are a few reasons to avoid the 13-year veteran.
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The first reason is that Subban does not play on the left side, which is what the New York Islanders need. Yes, they could sign him to a PTO and have him at camp for that competitiveness mentioned above, but there is bad blood between Subban and the Islanders from an incident that occurred last season.
On Apr. 3, the New York Islanders were in New Jersey to take on the Devils at The Rock. Early in the second period, with the New York Islanders up 2-0, Cory Schneider’s return to an NHL crease, Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom laid a tough hit on Devils star Jack Hughes, forcing him to leave the game.
Wahlstrom did lead with the knee, but because Hughes tried to evade the hit, he put himself in a more dangerous position. Hughes would leave the game with an MCL sprain and injury that would end his 2021-22 campaign.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 3, 2022
Oliver Wahlstrom did not receive a penalty on the play, and P.K. Subban was not happy about that. So moments later, the veteran defenseman jumped the defenseless Wahlstrom, dropped the gloves, and threw a few big punches, even one while Wahlstrom laid on the ice.
Here’s the whole sequence:
Wahlstrom lays a hit on Hughes and then Subban goes after Wahlstrom pic.twitter.com/Tx8qsrn6l5
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 3, 2022
P.K. Subban was given five minutes for fighting, an instigator penalty, and a game misconduct.
One could argue that Wahlstrom’s hit was dangerous, and one could say that Subban was standing up for his teammate. Fighting is legal in the NHL, but Subban did not allow it to be a fair fight and paid the price.
Following the game, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had some strong words for what Subban did.
“I didn’t even see it, but the guys were telling me to Subban sort of jumped Wahlstrom,” Trotz said. “If you’re gonna do it (retaliate), just, you know, eye him up and go at it, and so that’s where the anger was.”
“He (Subban) was fortunate he probably got kicked out of the game.”
The New York Islanders have some tough guys on their team, like Matt Martin, Ross Johnston and others who would have lined up to get a piece of Subban that night.
While Subban was on top of Wahlstrom, fans saw Barry Trotz give Ross Johnston a smirk. If Subban had not been ejected from the contest, he would have been in big, big trouble.
This bad blood between Subban and Wahlstrom started in a previous contest, back on Jan. 13, when Wahlstrom hit Jimmy Vesey hard. Subban had some words for Wahlstrom from the Devils’ bench, and all Wahlstrom did was show off his tongue and mouth what looked to be “Ooookay”.
Oliver Wahlstrom lays the boom on Jimmy Vesey and isn’t fazed by P.K. Subban’s threats pic.twitter.com/M56Kz1iSbM
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 14, 2022
If the Islanders were to offer Subban a PTO, it would not be the first time that players had to put aside their differences. When you are on the ice battling, there’s a certain respect level, especially when both parties drop the gloves and go at it.
Matt Martin had fought Zdeno Chara a few times before they became teammates, but it was always a respectful fight, usually ending with taps on each other’s backs before making the trip to the penalty box.
But what Subban did that night in New Jersey after the Hughes hit crossed a line that likely ruined any chance of him joining the Islanders, if they had any interest, to begin with.