Katic injury: Personal blow, opportunity for teammates.
Update: TSN and other outlets report Steve Staios is indeed headed to Long Island on a training camp invite.
Mark Katic's reported torn labrum [update: Official report is a dislocated shoulder], which Sound Tigers beatwriter Michael Fornabaio notes was indeed the same shoulder he hurt in 2010, is a blow to not only Katic's NHL prospects but also the Islanders blueline depth going into training camp.
Katic was always likely to be a roster bubble guy for this season -- maybe he makes it a pressbox slot or maybe he's the first callup -- but his absence, especially if he needs surgery, will trickle down through the organization.
Multiple outlets have surfaced Paul Mara and Steve Staios as possible veteran invites to training camp. [Update: Staios is incoming.] With all that in mind, here's how the blueline stacks up going into the first day of skating Saturday:
For the record, Streit, Mottau and Eaton officially passed their physicals and come off IR.
1. Mark Streit - Returning from major shoulder surgery that cost him the season. Looking good in makeup.
2. Andrew MacDonald - Returning from a hip labrum tear that ended last season.
3. Travis Hamonic - Beast.
4. Mark Eaton - Returning from hip surgery that ended last season.
5. Milan Jurcina - Ton Loc likes him some funky cold Jurcina. Will The Jurcina Anomaly continue?
6. Ty Wishart - Has some promise and I expect him to make the cut, but his projection is debated in these parts.
7. Mike Mottau - Returning from both hip surgery and an eye injury. Said over the summer he's ready to go.
**8.** [Edit with news: So maybe Staios goes here, if he impresses. I'm not sure this would be a good thing.]
Dylan Reese - Not exactly young at 27. Frequent fill-in the last two seasons, he could easily fill that same role this year.
Calvin De Haan - The "last defenseman cut" the last two camps, he wants an NHL gig now but will probably require at least nominal AHL tutelage.
Matt Donovan - Left college early and got some valuable AHL experience down the stretch. Not a standout in the rookie games, but they were rookie games.
Aaron Ness - Like Donovan, he got an AHL taste late last season. They'll likely form a pairing in Bridgeport.
Anton Klementyev - Some pro experience under his belt, this could be a big year to make an impression at Bridgeport. Was said to make strong progress last season.
Benn Olson - On an AHL contract. Not afraid to mess you up.
That's it for signed contracts I'm aware of. (Bridgeport's roster is not updated yet for this season.) With Katic out, they're looking promising but a little thin -- Katic had quietly become the second-most experienced guy on the Bridgeport blueline. Dustin Kohn has moved to Europe, Mark Wotton has reportedly retired.
Before before the pro camp is under way, Brenden Kichton and Andrey Pedan (as well as forward John Persson) have been returned to their junior clubs, as has rookie camp invite Art Bidlevskii. So scratch those guys off your camp radar.
Meanwhile, there are always an assortment of pro invites who end up in the picture. Let's just hope their arrival isn't elicited by another injury.