Colin McDonald needed a week back in October to get his mind right again. Upon learning he’d been waived by the New York Islanders on Oct. 22 after playing in two of the first six games, McDonald went willingly to Bridgeport when he cleared waivers, then took a few days to gather himself.
“It was disappointing,” McDonald said, “but I brought a lot of confidence with me. I was playing 20 minutes a night, playing a little more of a scorer role. I was just hoping the guys here didn’t forget about me.”
It was a situation McDonald had hoped he’d left behind. A 2003 second-round pick of the Oilers, he’d had five full AHL seasons and just seven NHL games before he signed a two-way contract with the Islanders before the lockout of 2012-13. As captain of the Sound Tigers, he had a solid half-season and earned a spot on the big club out of the shortened training camp in January.
Playing with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, McDonald made a decent impact in that playoff year; enough of an impact to earn a two-year, $1.2-million deal, his first one-way contract as a pro.
But as the roster matured and expanded this past offseason, McDonald’s standing became shaky. Anders Lee started this season in Bridgeport as he had waiver-exempt status, but he was destined to return. It came at McDonald’s expense.
Now, the 30-year-old McDonald has fought his way back to the NHL a second time and he seems quite determined to make it a tougher call to send him back. He has 4 points in 5 games since being re-called, meshing well again with Martin and Cizikas, who scored the winner last Tuesday off a diving feed from McDonald.
The only problem is that he’s inconsistent. For example, in his first three games since being called up yet again, McDonald recorded at least 1 point in each of those games. He hasn’t recorded a point in the last two games, thus proving consistency is key in the NHL.
“It was definitely tough watching the team this season, seeing them play so well, the chants, the packed crowds at the Coliseum,” McDonald said. “It’s obviously exciting to have this chance again.”
“Whether it’s a guy like Johnny [Tavares] or guys like myself, I think everyone’s out to prove something. I think it’s different reasons for each guy, but yeah, every day is a different tryout for me, just trying to continue to try and make a name for myself. Just try to make it a full-time NHL player.”
“We definitely need guys like him,” Tavares said. “He’s a proven NHLer and he’s shown the last couple games that he knows what to do when he’s here.”
The Islanders look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to their rivals, New York Rangers, and win tonight against the last-place Hurricanes with the help of Colin McDonald.