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Islanders News: Wing swap; Okposo’s story

Kyle Okposo shares his dark post-concussion experience.

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
Will go north, south, and any other direction Barzal takes him.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Not a lot new since Sunday’s roundup, but here’s a few:

Scary, emotional stuff from ex-Isle Kyle Okposo’s post-concussion experience a couple of seasons ago, which awoke some personal demons. Even when doctors discovered he’d had a concussion a few days after the impact, they:

were unable to explain why Kyle had gone through a manic phase, why the lifelong introvert spent three days calling people from his past to tell them off, why he stayed awake for four days straight, why he stopped eating and dwindled to a teenage weight...

Meanwhile, back to training camp

The Isles Buzz podcast returns from summer vacation, with Noel and Dan P. doing their annual over/unders. [LHH]

I keep enjoying this Ryan Pulock goal:

And if you missed it in the Newsday story about the Islanders’ win over the Rangers in Bridgeport, this line about why Barry Trotz swapped Josh Bailey for Jordan Eberle on the Barzal line will be worth following (emphasis mine):

“Beau is a very intelligent player who plays a north-south game. Bails is a veteran guy, he can read off Barzy. One of the things you find with a tremendous talent like Barzy, they don’t always play a standard structure because he’s so creative. I think Beau has that ability to work with Mathew and I think Bails has the hockey IQ, he can read off of them and just balance the line out.”

Trotz, we know, will demand a lot more disciplined structure from the team (particularly on the defensive side) than we saw last season, certainly since we’ve seen since at least the Capuano era. But he knows a creative “tremendous talent” like Mathew Barzal must be allowed more leeway to color outside the lines when carrying the puck.

I’ve made this comparison before, but the challenge for other creative yet non-superstar talents is to find a better balance toward structure and risk awareness. (Yes, I’m thinking of Joshua Ho-Sang, who will need to find that space to earn on-ice trust and find success. It’s the old Al Arbour line to a rookie, as relayed by Patrick Flatley: “Mike Bossy passes at the blueline, Patrick Flatley gets it deep.”)

What will also be interesting to watch as the try to sort out the top six: Whoever gets moved off Barzal’s line no longer playing with Barzal. It’s not like Eberle moving off the Tavares line — where they first penciled him when they acquired him from Edmonton — last fall and having the wonderful fallback of getting to play with Barzal.

Now, in the beginning of the post-JT era, that lineup weakness sticks out. (Hence we return to: the importance of structure.)

That’s about it for now. As expected, Kyle Burroughs cleared waivers, so he completes the first (all expected) cuts assigned mostly to Bridgeport or other destinations. [UPDATE: And now this morning there have been more cuts, including Bellows, Ho-Sang, Aho and Dobson.]

Now the Islanders will begin the second half of training camp: Two more days before the next preseason game (Wednesday at the Rangers), then a final game at home against the Sabres on Friday.

The real season begins six days later, in Carolina on Thursday, Oct. 4.