Withdrawals be gone – Hockey is back, at least in pre-season form.
Isles’ training camp is in full swing. The first crop of players has been cut as Barry Trotz whittles down his surplus of prospects and veterans to form the 2019 New York Islanders. Among the first players sent back to Bridgeport are Parker Wotherspoon, Travis St. Denis, Linus Soderstrom, and Jakub Skarek. This year’s draftees Felix Bibeau, Samuel Bolduc, and Cole Coskey have been returned to their junior teams as well.
“I thought some guys really showed a lot of confidence out there,” Captain Anders Lee said in interviews throughout training camp. “Our young guys have some bright futures ahead of them and they are just getting their feet wet.”
Still in the mix fighting for roster spots and showing off their stuff are forwards Keiffer Bellows, Bobo Carpenter, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Otto Koivula as well as defensemen Sebastian Aho, Kyle Burroughs, and Bode Wilde among many others.
In the second preseason game of the year, Mason Jobst and Kyle MacLean especially made waves with their impressive ability to create and join plays. Jobst even scored the overtime winner with Lee that Tuesday night.
Of course, most eyes are on Noah Dobson who will have to return to his junior team if he does not make the cut for the Islanders. He will not be eligible to join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL until January 7, when he turns 20. In the meantime, the Isles already have so much defensive depth that Dobson will have to truly shine to take a spot away from a regular. If he did make the cut, Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey, and Adam Pelech would most likely become trade bait to make room for him.
The Islanders’ goaltending situation is also a bit sticky. Seven goaltenders were invited to training camp, and only three have been cut so far. Skarek, Soderstrom, and Evan Buitenhuis all look good but need more ECHL/AHL experience. Christopher Gibson and Jared Coreau look even better. It’s obvious that Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss will make up the Isles’ first-string goaltending team, but either Gibson or Coreau could become the main back-up in the AHL.
“We take pride in being Islanders,” Lee also said. “We have a really close room, guys care for one another. You don’t want to leave that necessarily, and I think the biggest thing, too, is we have a lot of unfinished business.”
No matter how many prospects mingle with the veterans on this year’s Islanders team, the boys on Long Island are still hungry for a Cup and for recognition. There are still people to prove wrong, and the whole of last season to live up to.
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