Islanders Rookie Camp began today, breaking the quiet tranquility of the hockey-less summer dog days that everyone loves so much.
The roster for this year’s camp is the usual mix of draft picks and walk-ons, blue chippers and hopefuls, all looking to catch the eye of the coaches and other assorted front office types that are always lurking around the edges.
(Relax. Oliver Wahlstrom is at Boston College instead of camp.)
One guy who’s not on that list but is at camp is goalie Jakub Skarek, a third round pick from this year who came over for a cameo appearance to get some facetime within the organization.
G Jakub Skarek said he's only here until Sunday, then he heads back to Finland where his team's season is already underway.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) September 7, 2018
Another goalie won’t even have short amount of ice time this week. As reported here a few weeks ago, Linus Soderstrom is still rehabbing his shoulder and the timetable for him to return to the ice is unknown at this time.
G Linus Soderstrom, still recovering from season-ending surgery, called "day to day" by assistant GM Chris Lamoriello. Not yet determined whether he'll be available for training camp.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) September 7, 2018
Among the group of skaters are five guys who spent time with the Worcester Railers in their inaugural ECHL season last year. On that list are forward Matt “The Other” Gaudreau and defenseman Ryan “Not Nathan” MacKinnon. With the Islanders camp being run by Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson, chances are these guys are less concerned about making the NHL than they are about climbing the ladder one rung and making it to the AHL as regulars.
As for the guys who are already AHL regulars, this camp is a chance to make a(nother) good first impression on the people running the big club, and potentially forcing them into making a few difficult decisions that would push some old dogs to the curb and let some hungry young pups run around the yard.
In other words, Josh Ho-Sang is here:
“I’m excited,” Ho-Sang said. “Lou has won a Stanley Cup and that’s what I want to do. It’s easy to listen to him because he knows how to do it.”
And via the Islanders:
Ho-Sang will be proving himself to a new Islanders regime this year, as General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz joined the organization over the summer. Ho-Sang, who has 22 points (6G, 16A) in 43 NHL games, said he’s had constructive conversations with both the Hall of Fame GM and the Stanley Cup winning coach.
”It’s all been positive,” Ho-Sang said. “Every conversation I’ve had with them since the moment that they became a part of this organization has just been teaching. I’m taking everything they say and implementing it into my daily routines, on-ice routines at the rink, everything and it’s a work in progress, but I’m working really hard.”
Both articles also have a bunch of quotes from Thompson talking about Ho-Sang’s maturity and energy level, and how he needs to improve his play away from the puck if he wants to stick in the NHL. We’ve heard that stuff forever, but maybe this is the year the Islanders’ gamble on the electric Ho-Sang finally pays off. If not... who knows.
After a season at Boston University and one in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, Kieffer Bellows is eligible for the AHL this year. He has his sights set a little higher, though:
“There are some different people in the organization now, a different setup, but you just try to work hard every single day, show my best and play hard,” Bellows said. “I want to play in the NHL. That’s my goal and I’m going to work hard every single day to get there.”
Ho-Sang and Bellows are two of the older guys in the camp. For first timers like Noah Dobson, training with an NHL club is a new experience.
“It’s the first camp so I didn’t know what to expect, but after a few drills I kind of got adjusted and felt good out there,” Dobson, the 12th overall pick in June’s draft, said. “As a young guy, you just want to prove yourself that you belong up here and can play against the older and bigger guys… I’m just trying to leave a message with the staff of how I play, come in be myself and play my game and learn as much as I can.”
Observers have raved about Dobson’s performance at the World Junior Summer Showcare, and the chance he could make the Islanders out of camp is slim, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. We’ll have a little more on Bellows’s chances later on Saturday.
There aren’t a ton of spots open for these younger guys on the Islanders roster as of right now. Here’s to hoping they get the coaches to think long and hard about who would make the lineup better on a nightly basis.