In his session with media after the third day of New York Islanders training camp, coach Jack Capuano touched on a variety of topics that forecast how the next week of camp will go.
The Islanders are off Sunday and then will meet to head to Western Canada for split-squad games against the Flames on Tuesday, Sept. 17. How the groups are divided will be communicated on Monday, and the team will navigate NHL rules that try to guarantee some semblance of a show for people paying for preseason tickets:
Teams are required to dress at least 8 veterans. Ex: 100 games + in nhl or first round pick in 2013.
Update for clarity: The actual CBA language is a little more broad, yet specific:
For purposes of this Section 15.4(c), a veteran shall constitute either:
(1) a defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season,
(2) a who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season,
(3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year's Entry Draft, or
(4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games. The matter of Player participation in Exhibition Games shall be referred to the NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee for its consideration and recommendations, if any, in accordance with Article 22.
That means the A and B groups seen in early camp will get a shuffle, as the Islanders had their 51 bodies in camp divided among NHL regulars and NHL aspirants and prospects.
Asked how that mix will shape up, Capuano said this week will be big:
"Still evaluating for sure. We set the [initial A and B] groups up to start, but going in Monday everyone is going to be split differently. I think after the first few games or so we'll have a good idea of where guys are at and what guys can help us."
Capuano was asked how Pierre-Marc Bouchard was looking on the top line, and he answered that the first three days were basically orientation and reinforcement for everyone: So nothing on Bouchard will be answered until some preseason appearances, though he will definitely get a chance next to John Tavares and Matt Moulson, his linemates early in camp.
On that note, what about Matt Donovan, who has been skating with the prospect/AHL group but has been forecasted to have a strong shot of making the NHL roster?
"Matt Donovan had a great summer, he worked extremely hard, he's going to get an opportunity. He's one of the guys who is going to get up in the play, who's going to add to the power play. He's one of those guys who has put up some good numbers in the AHL, so we're going to see what he can do in the preseason games."
Donovan would probably have to have an awful camp and/or be vastly outplayed by someone else not to make the season-opening roster. How that shakes out remains to be seen. Capuano said they will start out in preseason keeping the existing forward lines intact, but the defensive pairings "obviously will change."
Capuano also discussed Evgeni Nabokov and the goalie rotation, saying he relies heavily on goalie coach Mike Dunham and his relationship with the goalies.
Watch Capuano's full press briefing in the videos at the official site.
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