January 15, 2013

Thomas Hickey claimed by Isles from Kings

With a very thin defense that desperately needs depth, the Islanders pulled the trigger on their second waiver claim of a blueliner in as many days.

The Islanders announced the acquisition of Thomas Hickey on Tuesday afternoon as they claimed him off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

Many people point to Hickey's draft spot as a reason of why this is a great move by Garth Snow. I’ll admit this is a very solid move. But, let’s all keep things in perspective here a bit.

In 2007, the Kings were in desperate need of blueline talent in the pipeline, and were struggling as a franchise overall. To say selecting Hickey 4th overall was a stretch is putting it lightly, especially when many had him pegged as a late first-early second rounder.

However, this waiver claim was a no-brainer for Snow and the Islanders. Despite not having played a game in the NHL yet, there is still some untapped potential here.

Several times we see prospects in juniors that definitely have the skills to have success and other times you can tell they will only top out as career minor leaguers or tweeners. Hickey has been approaching career minor leaguer status, but we’ve see flashes of good play from him in the past that definitely help his case a bit.

Hickey is a solid puck mover who starred for Team Canada at the 2008 and 2009 WJC's (where he played with John Tavares). While the fact that he hasn't played at the big level yet is certainly concerning, keep in mind he's also battled some injury problems in the past too. He's been a solid player at the AHL level, and at worst case, with the Islanders needing defensemen at both levels he will certainly have a home down in Bridgeport to step into someone's role.

Let's not discount the connections, either: aside from Tavares, he's also played with Matt Moulson in Manchester, and current Sound Tigers Head Coach Scott Pellerin was an assistant for Manchester for the previous six seasons. There's no doubt he's had plenty of time to evaluate Hickey, and would have recommended the Isles look elsewhere if he didn't feel there was something to work with here.

Ty Wishart cleared waivers and has been sent back to Bridgeport. The Islanders will likely have to make another move of some kind to allow Hickey to remain on the roster.

More to come later.

- Chris

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