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Islanders & NHL News: Back to the grind

Us, not the Islanders. Camp doesn’t start for a couple weeks (I think!).

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New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
These two fellas need to regain form, but perhaps their lives are more settled this season.
Rich Graessle/Getty Images

It has been a while since you, the readers and commenters, and we, LHH, last spoke. We needed to recharge our batteries before the new season got underway.

But Labor Day has come and gone, and vacations are over. The days are getting shorter. The temperature has cooled slightly. And my friends with back-to-back, early September birthdays have celebrated.

Now that hockey is back on its normal timeline, these annual events once again can serve as fuel for my excitement about the upcoming New York Islanders season.

That said, compared to the past few years, my enthusiasm for the next campaign has been, shall we say, muted. That also seems to be the general vibe of the fanbase, and it makes sense: Aside from Alex Romanov for Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene, they will likely ice the same crew that missed the playoffs by 16 points. A lot that could’ve gone wrong did last season, but probably not 16 points’ worth. A team that has consistently struggled to score made no upgrades to its forward group. And it fired the Hall-of-Fame coach who would have acted as something of a safety blanket for the lack of on-ice change.

But this core, in the past, has been driven by everyone counting them out. And as you’ll see below, that is beginning to happen again. So there is reason for optimism. Perhaps Lane Lambert can channel his long-time mentor and boss and tap the nerve that Barry Trotz found.

By the way, I apologize if I have written something like this already. All we can do until the season starts—unless the Islanders magically drop more news—is tee up what’s coming. Even that is tough, though, because they’re the Islanders. As such, there is no information about when the Isles’ rookie and training camps open. All we know is that their first preseason game is September 26, so presumably sometime the weekend before is when the veterans would report.

Islanders Bits

  • Kevin Kurz writes that he, like the Vegas sportsbooks, view the Islanders as a bubble team. A lot rides on the veteran forwards (two of whom probably had off-ice stuff on their minds last season) and the young defensemen. [The Athletic]
  • The Islanders will play 11 games on national TV, although six of those are streaming only. Josh Bailey’s likely 1,000th game, no. 7 on the season against the Rangers, will be on TNT. They’re also part of ESPN’s New Year’s Day plans. [NHL]
  • NYI Hockey Now spoke with an Islanders ticket representative about 50th anniversary plans, transportation and parking, and the ticket plans and price increases. The rep claimed that the rumor about the team struggling to retain season-ticket holders is not true and that renewal has been pretty high.
  • Stan Fischler tells us about Billy Smith’s origin story, from Perth, Ontario to Uniondale, New York. [Maven’s Memories]
  • While we’re at it, here is Stan’s profile of the Toy Tiger, original Islander Garry Howatt. [Maven’s Memories]


  • The sweepstakes has ended and in surprising fashion: Rather than trade him like it seemed they would, the Vancouver Canucks gave J.T. Miller the seven-year, $56 million deal he sought. [NHL]
  • The Dallas Stars entered the offseason with two high-profile RFAs to sign: Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson. Their goalie of the future signed a bridge deal, but Robertson remains unsigned. [Defending Big D | NHL]
  • The Ottawa Senators locked up Tim Stützle for nine more years, giving him an eight-year, $66.8 million extension that begins in 2023. [NHL]
  • Tage Thompson, son of B-Isles coach Brent Thompson, got a seven-year, $50 million extension from the Buffalo Sabres. He scored 38 goals in 78 games last season, but in his previous 145 games, he had 18 goals to show for his career. If he keeps it up, then the deal could be a bargain. But that is a huge gamble on a guy who more than tripled his career goal total in one big season. [NHL]
  • Kirby Dach, part of the three-way trade that landed Romanov on Long Island, signed a four-year contract with his new team, the Montreal Canadiens. [NHL]
  • Erik Brannstrom, selected with the pick the Islanders gave to the Vegas Golden Knights around the Expansion Draft, signed a low-money deal with the Ottawa Senators. [NHL]
  • The NHL, the players’ association, and the IIHF met in Paris to discuss a World Cup of Hockey tournament for February 2024. That’s their goal, but nothing yet has been finalized. [IIHF]
  • Fair to say that Kyle Dubas is on the hot seat, and he will likely get canned if the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t get out of the first round. Matt Murray, the goalie Dubas foolishly bet his career on, joins Dubas on the hot seat. [THN]
  • In a vote amongst Metro Division beatwriters at The Athletic, the consensus believes the Islanders will finish sixth in the division, though they were close to Columbus in fifth; in fact, they probably fell to sixth because one of those geniuses (not Kurz, evidently) actually thinks the Flyers will put together a better season than the Islanders and come in seventh, putting the Isles in the basement. I sometimes wonder why I pay money for that site. [The Athletic]
  • Former future Islander Nazem Kadri made a $1 million donation to the London (Ontario, his hometown) Health Sciences Centre.