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New York Islanders Tea Leaves: Answers, trade denials and meditations from your beatwriter

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Newsday's Islanders beatwriter Arthur Staple tells readers that, for the first time since he took the beat, competition for the opening night roster looks open and deep.

"Will he make the team?" No. "When then?" Not now. "How about now?" Also, no.
"Will he make the team?" No. "When then?" Not now. "How about now?" Also, no.
Mitchell Leff

For those of you not on the Twitter, or not adept at navigating the Twitter tunnels, we call your attention to an impromptu Q&A session on that platform Monday night from Newsday's Islanders beatwriter, Arthur Staple.

Why subject himself to rapid-fire questions from the unwashed Twitter masses (including many readers and writers at this site), you say? Because he's just that swell of a guy. Or maybe Monday night football was bad (they still play Monday Night Football, right? Between domestic violence headlines, I mean?):

Before we get to some of the more choice samples, have a bit of sympathy for the volume (as in hundreds of questions) he subjected himself to:

Repeat To Yourself: 'When it comes, it comes.'

Fat Sam's words are appropriate here. You have lineup/roster questions, and they will be answered. When the time comes. The drill for teams with depth and extra bodies and promising prospects usually goes like this: Preseason games, injuries, roster flexibility analysis, camp cuts, waivers, opening night.

So give it time. (I know, it's hard.)

Though these tweets were answers to specific questions, I like to strip the answers of their context, to serve the fan. In fact, I would love to turn them into bumper stickers. Bumper stickers that every Isles fan can put on his/her bathroom mirror, to repeat to him/herself as a mantra, both before bed and before leaving the house for a day of stress-filled real-world angst that is later taken out on the Islanders or the people who cover the team:

(That was in response to an innocent question about possible moves on the blueline. But the answer applies to so, so much.)

So when you wake up in the middle of the night, racked with anxiety over Matt Donovan's fate, repeat to yourself:

Have to see what goes down during camp. Nothing imminent.

Pick up your morning paper (heh) and find yourself shouting at the neighbor: "WILL BROCK NELSON BE ON LINE ONE OR OTHER?" calmly chant:

Have to see what goes down during camp. Nothing imminent.

And when the split-squad rosters against the Senators are announced and you are appalled -- APPALLED, I tell you -- that what you think looks like the "B" squad has a player you think should CLEARLY be on the "A" squad, just be cool, man. Be cool:

Have to see what goes down during camp. Nothing imminent.

Anyway, enough of the meta-analysis. If you missed or couldn't catch up with Staple's Twitter Q&A, here are a few highlights. Expect more, fuller answers at Newsday...once camp is actually underway.

Trending Up: Reinhart, Brennan

Staple continues to fancy Griffin Reinhart's chances of making the NHL roster from the get-go, and said T.J. Brennan should get a good shot as well.

Asked for a "if you had to pick now" for his opening night blueline, Staple suggested those two making the squad, with a three-way battle of Brian Strait, Matt Carkner and Kevin Czuczman for the #7. No mention of Matt Donovan there, nor (sniff) Radek Martinek, but again... This is just a pre-preseason guesstimate. Remain calm. See bumper sticker above.

Not Trending: 4th Liners, Strugglers

Other than raised expectations overall, the big topic as camp opens Friday is how all the different forward names will shake out. In short, the Isles have more forwards with NHL experience than they do job openings.

Casey Cizikas is one incumbent name that came up as needing to step up, as did Colin McDonald, and to a lesser extent Josh Bailey and Michael Grabner.

As to Matt Martin in that discussion:

What of Anders Lee then? Well again, that's the battle about to be waged, the whole "everyone will need to earn their spot" mantra that Staple cites now, and you know the coaching staff will cite every day of camp.

Lee could end up making the case for fourth-line duty-plus. Much is up in the air.

Who gets cut? Again, much is up in the air.

Fun with Goaltending

Asked about strategy changes on the penalty kill, which Jack Capuano discussed over the summer, Staple went with the funny (this is Twitter after all):

Coveting Others' Goods

Will the Isles get Boychuk? Brent Seabrook? Cody Franson? Gimme bodies!

The rough answers in order were: No, not realistic, and not interested. See the bumper sticker above.

The Isles have many bodies in camp, and are far more likely to use camp to assess those bodies rather than swing that mammoth blockbuster you've been executing on NHL 14 all summer long. Staple said multiple times he doesn't see cap-crunched Boston dealing Boychuk, either.

Bottom Line: First Comes Camp, then Comes Answers

Yeah, but come on man, tell us who makes the team. Tell us! Staple received many variations of the same, and outside of just making a prediction for the hell of it, there's really no advance sorting out of who wins these battles, considering the Isles have several comfortable incumbents, several new additions who are virtual locks to make the lineup, and several more who were signed to push for jobs.

So what will the opening night lineup be? Give us a prediction, won't you?