Otto Koivula joined the Islanders for practice on Wednesday morning after being recalled from the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Koivula received his first NHL call up after the club announced that Matt Martin (lower body) and Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body) were placed on IR retroactive Oct. 25.
"Right now, we're down to the nuts and bolts in terms of healthy bodies," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "It makes sense that we've got a little room to bring a healthy body in. Otto gives us that opportunity as a centerman, he can play the wing and all of that. Just an extra forward."
The 21-year-old Finn was watching television last night when he received the important call. With a plethora of injuries hitting the Isles, and Sound Tigers teammates Oliver Wahlstrom and Cole Bardreau already recalled from Bridgeport, Koivula noted that he had a feeling his time might be soon. At practice, Koivula rotated in with Bardreau's line in between Ross Johnston and Wahlstrom.
"I want to work hard here and show my skill," Koivula said. "They know my skill and know my weaknesses and my strengths. But I want to show that I'm capable of playing here and that I'm ready for the NHL."
The Isles 2016 fourth rounder (120th overall) registered 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) through 69 games in his rookie season in the AHL. He ranked second on the Sound Tigers in goals (21) and points (46) last season. Koivula showcased a strong showing at training camp but was assigned to Bridgeport on Sept. 25.
"I liked Otto and what I saw in the preseason," Trotz said. "He's a really young kid. He's a big body. His hockey sense, in terms of IQ, especially to play the game the right way, he has that. He's intelligent that way. For a big body, [it's about] just getting the quickness and the speed and all of that going. It takes those young, big guys a little bit longer. I know he's just coming back from a bit of an injury. Right now, he's a couple of games and I talked with [Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson] and he felt he was starting to get his game back."
The Sound Tigers are off to a slower start with a 1-5-2-1 record through nine games. Koivula has registered two assists through six games but hopes to use this opportunity with the Isles as a fresh start and help the Islanders, who are riding a seven-game winning streak, to keep the momentum going.
"It's cool to see how these guys do things here," Koivula said. "It's nice to be here. It's cool to see the guys working hard and their getting wins. It's not a surprise to me that they're getting wins."
Head Coach Barry Trotz provided updates on Leo Komarov and Jordan Eberle.
Komarov, who has missed the four-straight games with illness, is coming along and is hopeful to return to the lineup next week.
"He's been sort of zapped here," Trotz explained. "He's been a lot slower than we thought. Hopefully, we get Leo back here in good time here. We've got a few days, but it's not looking like it's going to be this weekend."
Eberle has been out of the lineup since suffering his undisclosed injury on Oct. 12 against Florida, but has been skating on his own. Trotz did not have an exact time frame for when Eberle return, but noted that when Eberle rejoins the group in practice he'll have a better idea.