Greetings from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota is definitely a different experience than New York. Everyone is so nice... It's weird.
With the Islanders annual Prospect Camp occuring this week culminating in the Orange vs. Blue scrimmage (Tickets Available!), it is peoples first chance to see promising, young prospects in the organization like Nino, Nelson and the Kirills. But there are actually several players in attendance whose future with the organization is tenuous at best. Names like Tomas Marcinko and Roben Figren have been around the organization for several years now and their positions within the organization are being targeted by the young guns. Will they hang on or will they be finding themselves somewhere else this time next year?
Robin Figren - Winger: The small Swedish wing was the Islanders' 3rd round pick in the 2006 draft. Figren's high point came in the 07-08 season with a five goal, seven point performance at the WCJ. Then he got injured playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. It's been downhill since then for Figren. The 08-09 season saw him loaned out to Elitserien team Djurgarden. Figren didn't respond to the challenge of playing in Sweden's top flight and poor performance left a bitter taste in the mouths of Djurgarden and the Swedish press. Figren's poor play continued over into this season that saw him a healthy scratch in 20 of Bridgeport's games. When he did play, it wasn't good. He averaged .11 points per game (7 in 62 regular season games). He did perform somewhat better in the playoffs and Jack Capuano made sure to mention at the end of the season Figren's improvements over the course of the season. This is a make or break season for Figren, as it is the final year of his entry level deal. Baring a break out year, Figren will probably be on his way back to Ikea-land
Tomas Marcinko - Center: Like Figren, Marcinko was drafted in 2006 and was a European (Slovak) playing in the CHL. Marcinko has played the past two seasons in Bridgeport but his time there has been marred by injury and poor production. He has yet to play in more than 60 games in a season and his scoring peaked at 11 points two seasons ago. The one thing Marcinko has in spades is size (6'4", 201) but he is yet to translate that into production on the ice. Like Figren, Marcinko's contract is up at the end of the season so he needs to impress in order to secure a spot with the Islanders beyond this season.
Tony Romano - Center: Smithtown's Own was acquired from the Devils last year for the rights to Ben Walter. In his first professional season he split the year between Bridgeport and the ECHL. He was actually traded away from the Islanders' ECHL affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies, to the Toledo Walleye. During his 21 game stay at the begining of the season in Bridgeport, he only managed to score 1 goal and 1 assist. His scoring picked up after his demotion, but the trade to Toledo was odd. Many wondered what this meant for Romano's standing in the organization and whether he was still a apart of it after the trade. Well, it looks like he still is. Romano needs to prove he can score against tougher competition in order to succeed. One can hope Romano can replicate the success Trevor Smith and Andrew MacDonald had in the AHL upon his return from the ECHL.
Collegiates: There are a couple of NCAA prospects that are worth a look at during the camp after tough seasons. The trio of Aaron Ness, Corey Trivino and David Toews all had underwhelming sophomore seasons last year whether it was through injuries (Trivino), poor production (Ness, Trivino, Toews), off ice issues (Trivino) or a team completely collapsing (Ness). There are still questions on whether Toews will return to North Dakota for his Junior year or head to the WHL but as of now it seems he will remain in college. While all three will at some point get a chance in the organization, it will be interesting to see how they respond in their Junior years.