Hope. Structure. Culture.
That’s what the New York Islanders have going for them as full training camp opened Friday. Hope that, you know, things are gonna work out...fueled by the fact a coach known for structure and defensive discipline — sorely needed — is in the house, and a legendary GM has arrived intent on weeding out bad habits (some very real, some very imagined) and building a new culture.
The expected pro roster...looks no better than last season’s disappointing 80-point squad, actually. But even though they lost their captain and second-leading scorer, they are buttressed by lots of competition for jobs and some promising prospects.
Whether those prospects are given a true fair chance or rather the ol’ “wink and a PTO” chance remains to be seen. But they are everywhere.
Here’s how the camp lined up in three groups to begin proceedings on Day 1 (players listed by position, then alphabetic order, per the official site):
Forwards: Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Tanner Fritz, Ryan Hitchcock, Ben Holmstrom, Connor Jones, Otto Koivula, Ivan Kosorenkov, Anders Lee, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson, Yannick Turcotte
Defensemen: Sebastian Aho, Johnny Boychuk , Mike Cornell, Seth Helgeson, Nick Leddy, Yannick Rathgeb, Mitch Vande Sompel
Goalies: Mitch Gillam, Robin Lehner
Notes: “BEST FOURTH LINE IN HOCKEY.” Boychuk-Leddy. Aho is a hopeful, Swiss Rathgeb is one to watch.
Forwards: Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Steve Bernier, Ryan Bourque, Michael Dal Colle, Arnaud Durandeau, Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Jan Kovar, Jeff Kubiak, Tom Kuhnhackl, Travis St. Denis
Defensemen: Noah Dobson, Thomas Hickey, Ryan MacKinnon, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, David Quenneville, Parker Wotherspoon
Goalies: Thomas Greiss, Jeremy Smith
Notes: Barzal, Beauvillier and Eberle together. Where will Kovar fit? Ho-Sang’s fresh start. Ohhhh, Kuhnhackl. Smith is the AHL veteran who will help Bridgeport with Linus Soderstrom’s health a long-term question mark.
Forwards: Kieffer Bellows, Chris Bourque, Scott Eansor, Valtteri Filppula, Matt Gaudreau, Stephen Gionta (PTO), Blade Jenkins, Ross Johnston, Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd, Kyle MacLean, Mike Sislo, Pius Suter
Defensemen: Kyle Burroughs, Scott Mayfield, Tyler Mueller, Luca Sbisa (PTO), Dennis Seidenberg (PTO), Devon Toews
Goalies: Evan Buitenhuis, Christopher Gibson, Emmanuel Vella
Notes: Group of Grit! And PTOs. And Toews, who better make it. Ladd and Mayfield are the only returning regulars in this group. But Johnston became one, Komarov will be one, and Filppula too.
In addition to Söderström (whose injury saga is worrying), the official site also listed Matt Lorito and John Stevens as “no timetable.” 2018 pick Bode Wilde was out too, but expected to be back on the weekend.
The Islanders’ first preseason game is Sunday afternoon at Nassau, the first of six games in seven days including four against the Flyers.