The New York Islanders announced this afternoon that they have activated defenseman Sebastian Aho off of IR. In a corresponding move, defenseman Robin Salo has been assigned to the Bridgeport Islanders of the AHL. Newsday’s Andrew Gross was the first to report the transaction.
Given that the Islanders had 23 men on their roster prior to activating Aho, someone would have to go, and with Salo being waiver-exempt, he was clearly a logical choice. Interestingly though, the team has been carrying fifteen forwards and six defensemen, leaving little margin for error should a last-minute injury present itself, especially with the team on the road.
Of note, coming out of training camp, it appeared that Salo had won the competition for the third-pair, left-defense spot over Aho and other competitors like Paul Ladue and Grant Hutton. In fact, on opening night, Salo played while Aho was a healthy scratch. But, when the team activated Cal Clutterbuck off of IR on October 15th, they placed Aho on IR in response. Despite being placed on IR, Aho continued to skate with the team that day. When Aho does lace them up for New York, it’ll mark his fourth NHL season since his debut in 2017-18. The puck-moving Aho has had trouble establishing himself as a full-time NHLer thus far in his career, but did manage to get into a career-high 36 games last season in the NHL, recording 12 points.
Some may be surprised to see Salo sent down after seeming to win a regular job with the Islanders out of camp, then having a strong start to the regular season, including a two-goal game against the Anaheim Ducks last weekend. But, to that end, Gross speculates that this is merely a paper transaction, considering Salo traveled with the team to Tampa.