Islanders Prospect Robin Salo Is Off To A Good Start In Bridgeport

Photo courtesy of Matt Dewkett/Bridgeport Islanders

At the moment, Sebastian Aho is the 7th defenseman on the Islanders roster and would likely be the fill-in should one of the top-six get hurt, was sick, or just needed a rest.  But if the Islanders ever needed to go beyond Aho, for whatever reason, they would have two options…

One would be to make a trade, but that would probably be more likely later in the season and probably closer to the trade deadline.

The second and more likely option would be to promote a blueliner from their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport and that discussion would presumably lead to the Islanders calling up Robin Salo, the team’s 2nd round pick (46th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

After the native of Espoo, Finland signed his two-year entry level deal back in February, Salo remained with Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League where he finished the season with 6 goals and 24 points for 30 points and a +17 rating in 51 games.  When a player comes over from Europe to North America, there is generally an adjustment period.

“For myself, I feel like I’m getting used to the game more and getting used to the smaller ice,” said Salo.  “Having a quicker mindset when you get to the puck like in breakouts and when you’re in the D zone.  It’s a smaller rink so it’s harder and it’s more physical.”

So far this season with the Bridgeport Islanders, Salo has a goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 6 games.  His one goal was an overtime winner over Springfield in the home opener on October 23rd at Webster Bank Arena.

(Photo courtesy of Matt Dewkett/Bridgeport Islanders)

“It was a really good feeling,” said Salo.  “It’s always nice to score and of course have the game-winner in overtime is always nice.  For sure a confidence booster.”

Salo certainly opened up some eyes at New York Islanders training camp and played in the Isles’ first three pre-season games before being assigned to Bridgeport.  He certainly looked like a player who was adapting quickly to his new surroundings but he clearly needed some more time to develop and he’s getting that opportunity in Bridgeport.

“Robin has really done a good job,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz early in training camp.  “I think the first thing that stands out is how poised he is with the puck. He’s got a lot of deception to his game. He makes good decisions.”

During his time at training camp with the parent club, Salo received some important on the job training getting his first taste of the “Islanders Way” and what life in the NHL was all about.

“It was a good experience,” said Salo.  “It was new to me.  I had never been to an NHL camp before.  It was good to get here and come learn the system and the game plan.”

(Photo courtesy of Matt Dewkett/Bridgeport Islanders)

Not only did Salo have the opportunity to learn from Trotz and the rest of the coaching staff, but he was also able to pick the brains of players like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, Andy Greene and newly-signed future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara.

“It was nice to be there with such really good NHL players that have such a high level of skill,” said Salo.  “I got a few pointers.  When you play the games and you play with your D partner, you get a few tips here and there.  I feel like it was really good to get those games and be at the camp and just kind of learn and soak it all in.”

Just how long Salo remains down in Bridgeport is anybody’s guess.

Depending on how things unfold on Long Island this season, Salo could very well get the call to make his NHL debut.  The organization is happy with his progress but he still has some work to do.

“I think Robin certainly positioned himself well for turning pro with us and coming over (from Finland) last year,” said Bridgeport Islanders General Manager Chris Lamoriello.  “I think it’s really up to him how quickly things can progress.  We’re going to get him as ready as quickly as we can but we’re not going to rush anything.”

But while Salo is working hard on achieving his dream of making it to the NHL, getting the call from the New York Islanders isn’t something he’s concerned with right now.  For the moment, he’s determined to improve at Bridgeport and help his team win.

“For now, I just focus day by day just being here,” said Salo.  “Just trying to do my best with what I can do here in the games and help the team.  I just try to get focused on things I can control. I can’t control other stuff like what’s going on over there.  If something happens, I’ll be ready when it comes.”

Islanders fans on Long Island will have two chances to see Robin Salo and the Bridgeport Islanders this weekend.  The AHL Islanders will host the Providence Bruins on Saturday night at 7pm and then they’ll entertain the Rangers AHL team the Hartford Wolfpack on Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter covers the Islanders for New York 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. Peter spent 8 years as the radio play by play voice for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. He was also the radio play by play announcer for the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen in 2001 and the radio play by play announcer for the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1993 to 1996. You can follow Peter on Twitter at @SchwartzSports

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