UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Joshua Ho-Sang met with several teams prior to the 2014 NHL Draft, but he was taken aback following his sit-down with the New York Islanders. That's why he wasn't too surprised when they traded up with the Tampa Bay Lightning to grab the talented (and sometimes outspoken) center at No. 28.
"They were definitely the nicest," Ho-Sang said Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum after the first on-ice session at the team's annual prospect camp. "They just talked to me, they asked me some questions. I mean, the Islanders were one of the few teams, and I heard it with a lot of guys, they were asking me questions outside of hockey, just kind of getting to know them. I think that's unbelievable that they did that, and obviously I ended up here because of that. They took the time to kind of talk to me and I appreciate that very much. And the fact that they traded up for me is unbelievable."
Ho-Sang, 18, is coming off his second season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. He led the team last season with 53 assists and 85 points in 67 games, and tied for the team lead with 32 goals. That's why he chuckled when someone asked if certain NHL teams didn't draft him because of the perception that he's a selfish player, a trait he admitted he battled a few years ago but has worked hard to change.
"I was top-10 in the CHL in assists (actually tied for 13th), so I don't know," Ho-Sang said. "You can say I'm an individual, but I pass the puck a lot and the guys that I played with on my team, they can vouch for that. I think a lot of that stuff was my minor-hockey days for sure. I was pretty selfish when I was 15, but I've really worked on that. It's something that I've had to work on. From the talks with the Islanders, that's not something that they've said to me. They just said to work on defense and to get stronger."
That's likely been the message to most players during prospect camp this week. Islanders coach Jack Capuano told reporters he's not so much interested in evaluating players as he is simply getting to know them better on a personal level, including Ho-Sang and left wing Michael Dal Colle, the fifth pick of this year's draft. Dal Colle had 39 goals and 95 points in 67 games for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL last season.
"I've been through these camps quite a bit, and as I told the guys, we're not here to judge and evaluate players," Capuano said. "We know they're good players. We're here this week to get to know them and that's more or less what I want to accomplish this week."
This week Ho-Sang is rooming with defenseman Griffin Reinhart, who will receive every opportunity to make the Islanders out of training camp. Reinhart, who was New York's first-round draft choice (No. 4) in 2012, won a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League last season.
"I haven't really talked to him about on-ice stuff … we've just kind of talked about life and stuff," Ho-Sang said of Reinhart. "He's an amazing guy. He's nice to me. He's a very high pick; he's played his years [in junior] and he didn't big-league me at all. He took the time to talk to me and that means a lot."
Fans will be provided their first opportunity to see Ho-Sang skate in an Islanders uniform Thursday when the team hosts its annual Blue-White scrimmage at the Coliseum. The Islanders probably will be playing their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn by the time Ho-Sang arrives full-time on the NHL scene (this season will be their last in Uniondale), but he's excited for the chance to help bring the franchise back to prominence. He said putting on the gear Tuesday gave him goose bumps.
"It feels unbelievable," Ho-Sang said. "I mean, this is the first day I really got to wear the equipment and stuff, so that was really cool and really exciting. Just to see it in the stall, and I'm sure a lot of the guys share the same feeling. It's an amazing organization to be a part of, especially because they're building and they really want to jump up and be an impact team in the East and I'm hoping to help [them] do that. For a lot of the moves they make, you can clearly see it."