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The NHL lockout has kept the New York Islanders off Long Island, but their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers open camp in Syosset in their place.
This morning's skate is open to the public at IceWorks from 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Across the AHL, the dynamic is deepened by the presence of many young talents who would otherwise be in the NHL -- chief among those being Travis Hamonic, who returns to the AHL after 135 NHL games where he never looked like he'd be heading back.
But for the Sound Tigers, the intrigue also revolves around a new coach in Scott Pellerin and a trio of highly regarded Islanders prospects in Kirill Kabanov, Brock Nelson and Johan Sundstrom. At the risk of over-hyping prospects, those three forwards pose very different but very compelling reasons to watch. Kabanov is the dynamic and handsy possession guy, Nelson is a two-way forward who uses his size well (but has something to learn at the pro level), and Sundstrom is one who has already earned the defensive trust of his coaches in previous Swedish stops.
And of course, Nino Niederreiter makes his full-time AHL debut. (He had a brief conditioning stint last season after his training camp injury.)
This AHL camp is also marked by the return of three ripening blueline prospects who were supposed to be fighting for NHL jobs: Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness, along with last season's veteran team leader in Ty Wishart.
As for camp, Pellerin tells the official site what he sees thus far:
"I’m really looking at how these guys improve. There is a grit factor and compete level involved too, which is something I like to watch. I think we have a very fast and well-conditioned team."
Pellerin also talked about having a plethora of candidates for captain. If the lockout weren't a factor -- or more precisely, if one knew that the NHL season would be wiped out completely -- then Hamonic would be an obvious choice. But given the uncertainty of when Hamonic will leave the team, you wonder if Bridgeport will go in a different direction.
Michael Fornabaio has a great run-down of AHL rule changes from minor to major -- hey, the price of a hooking major has doubled -- including video review and no-touch "hybrid" icing, which the AHL has taken on as an experiment at the NHL's request.