In carrying three goalies, the New York Islanders are in the rare situation of having only one extra defenseman and one extra forward on the 23-man roster.
Injuries, as they are wont to do, punted forward any tough decisions on who those extras would be. Milan Jurcina's recovering from a groin injury finally forced Mike Mottau to the pressbox. Enforcer Trevor Gillies got a few games in when Jack Capuano wanted to scratch-awake Blake Comeau. But with three-minute games for Gillies and a four-line unit that appears to flow (and perform) better with 12 guys trusted to a regular shift, that was hardly the ideal scenario.
Now with Nino Niederreiter (on IR since the season's beginning) finally skating with the big club in practice, it appears the time for real forward competition is near. In theory the Islanders could try what the Kings did with Brayden Schenn last season by giving the otherwise AHL-ineligible junior an AHL conditioning stint. That would make room for a temporary non-Nino replacement for Gillies, assuming he's assigned to Bridgeport.
Otherwise, it appears the Islanders will finally have 13 regular-shift forwards to choose from -- which means someone who's not pulling their weight joins 7th D-man Mottau on the sidelines. Until the next injury.
After the jump, two of our favorite Gillies gifs:
Working the Drive-Through
For Those about to Rock, We Politely Say Let's Go