Islanders Could Look To Austin Czarnik For “A Little Bump In Energy”

New York Islanders

Over the last few games, Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz has been tinkering with his lineup trying to find the right formula for what he settles in on what he calls “three and two-thirds” of a line going forward.

Because of the COVID-19 protocol related postponements of a pair of games against the Buffalo Sabres, the Islanders will have some extra practice time this week in advance of Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum.  Trotz, trying to find the right formula that can get the Islanders back on track after losing all five games on their recent road trip, will now have more of an opportunity to get a look at who could eventually become the regular wingers for Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the third line and who could be called on to fill a spot should there be any injuries or the need for a protocol related replacement.

For this past Sunday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia, Trotz inserted off-season acquisition Austin Czarnik into the lineup and Trotz liked what he saw.

“I brought him in to give us that little energy and a little bit of speed,” said Trotz.

Czarnik had an even plus/minus in the game while registering one shot on goal along with a blocked shot and a takeaway in a little more than 14 minutes of ice time.  He also saw some time with the man-advantage.

“He did a good job on the power play,” said Trotz.  “He really did.  He made some good decisions.”

Czarnik Was An Under The Radar Signing For The Islanders: 

The Islanders acquired the 28-year-old Czarnik as a free agent during the off-season signing the veteran forward to a two-year contract.

He has previous NHL experience with the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames totaling 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points over 121 regular season games.  The Washington Township, Michigan native played college hockey at Miami (Ohio) University and then went on to play junior hockey for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League.  Czarnik was a 2018 American Hockey League All-Star and recorded 188 points on 67 goals and 121 assists over 189 career AHL games for the Providence Bruins and Stockton Heat.

At 5-9 and 175 pounds, Czarnik could be a sparkplug type of player for the Islanders as he has the makeup to provide the team with some energy and also versality with the ability to play all three forward positions.

“He’s a very intelligent guy,” said Trotz.  “He’s got good awareness away from the puck.  He’s very competitive so he’s a useful guy in the lineup for any team.  I think he’s a guy that catches my eye when it comes to that energy type of thing.  When we need a little bump in energy, he can go on right wing.  He can go on left wing.  He plays some center.”

So far this season, Barry Trotz has used a plethora of forwards to fill spots on the third line with Pageau and also to fill the void of the injured Anthony Beauvillier who continues to rehab from a lower-body injury.  Brian Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Michael Dal Colle, and Leo Komarov have all had opportunities to get in the lineup and now Austin Czarnik has joined the mix.

He’s got a few days at practice this week to continue catching the eye of Trotz with the hope of staying in the lineup this Saturday against the Penguins.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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