The New York Islanders 5 day rookie camp kicks off on September 6th and the 31 player roster will be comprised of 13 forwards, 15 defenseman, and 3 goaltenders. Of the players attending, more than half (21) are Islanders’ draft picks.
The Isles boast one of the deepest prospect pools in the league. With a future including names such as Strome, Nelson, Pulock, & Reinhart, even fans with minimal draft interest can get excited recognizing more than a handful of names. Here is the roster that will be taking the ice from September 6th-10th (with links to respective hockeydb.com stats):
Players to watch:
The one true “star potential” prospect that will take the ice, Strome has all the talent to step into the Islanders’ lineup this year and contribute. The question is will the organization give him the opportunity on October 4th? The safe bet is on no, but I would expect Ryan to take his permanent stay at some point during the season. Having him start the season in Bridgeport will anger many, but with minimum roster space up front on the big boy club, a few months in Connecticut could ultimately be the wise decision. I have absolutely no doubt that Ryan Strome will be a legitimate first line caliber player in the NHL. The only question will be whether it’s centering the second line or becoming the dominant first line winger alongside John Tavares. My feeling is that GM Garth Snow wants to see where a bunch of chips will fall to start the season. Will Pierre-Marc Bouchard satiate the top line winger needs? Can Casey Cizikas continue to play at an NHL level? Will Peter Regin & Brock Nelson hold onto their roster spots? Ryan Strome has considerable more upside than either of these names mentioned, but answering these questions before making a final transition to Strome might not be a bad idea. Plus, Strome has shown no signs of aggravation with his development. This was the case with former prospect Nino Niederreiter. Ryan Strome has been nothing but a trooper.
Beyond Strome, Brock Nelson leads the pack amongst the secondary Isles’ prospects. This is by no means meant to be a cheap shot at the North Dakota alum. The reason why the Islanders are viewed as one of the deepest organizations in the league are players like Anders Lee, Johan Sundstrom, & Matt Donovan. The franchise is filled with solid second/third liners and Nelson is the cream of the crop. A solid two way center, Nelson made his debut last postseason in game 6 against the Penguins. With no distinct weaknesses in his game, Nelson is the best bet to take one of the limited roster openings out of camp. Depending on how he looks in September, Nelson could start the season centering the second or third line, being an interchangeable piece with veteran “Selke darkhorse” Frans Nielson.
Calvin de Haan/Matt Donovan
The Islanders will have one D man roster spot open for the taking and Garth Snow has basically said this summer that more than likely Donovan will be given the opportunity to make a contribution on opening night. This may be the last chance for Calvin de Haan who is in the last year on his entry level contract. De Haan, who seems like he’s been with the organization forever (drafted in 2009), has been constantly plagued by injuries, but word is he is looking healthy and playing his best hockey in a long time. I would expect him to be the first call up during the season.
Right now Anders Nilsson is fighting Kevin Poulin for the backup role on the team. Poulin might have the slight edge at this point, but with a decent showing in camp, I wouldn’t rule out Nilsson as stealing the role from Poulin. 2013-14 will have to be the year for one of these goalies to step up and take the reins going forward. I think the extra few days of camp could help Nilsson and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds.