|It's that time of the year again!|
Islanders Rookie Camp is officially under way on Long Island. Camp will run through Tuesday, September 10th, and will feature thirty-one players comprised of thirteen forwards, fifteen defensemen and three goaltenders (click for the full roster).
For the first time since July, the Islanders will have the opportunity to evaluate their prospects. By doing so, the Islanders brass should get a better idea of where their young stars are in their development. Some will be sent back tot heir respective leagues. Others will remain in Bridgeport. A few may just get their chance to earn a spot with the big team, starting with Islanders training camp on September 11th.
While we're in the spirit of Rookie Camp, I think it would be worthwhile to spotlight a few prospects that might make enough of an impact to create some buzz this week.
The Islanders current roster is already loaded with forwards, but that doesn't mean their offensive prospects won't do enough to make the team reconsider some of their options before December. The top two pieces to watch this summer are Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson, both former first-round picks looking to break into the NHL for their rookie seasons. Strome, creative and dangerous with the puck on his stick, and Nelson, gifted in all three zones, fill different needs for the Isles, with Nelson getting the upper-hand in professional experience.
While most consider this to be a two-horse race, it should be noted that Kirill Kabanov, who trained under Gary Roberts' offseason program this summer, will be vying for a spot, as will Anders Lee, the only forward in camp with an NHL goal. Both Kabanov and Lee have the potential to become second-line stars for the Isles, and both come to camp with the intention to win a spot on Long Island this September.
On defense, the Islanders will be entertaining an overly-talented group of young blue-liners that could produce several NHL-calibre players by the 2014-15 season. Of course, Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan are all the talk to make the team out of training camp, but what about the real future of the Islanders blue-line - the nasty side of it?
Andrey Pedan and Scott Mayfield will bring their respective 6'3 and 6'5 frames to Rookie Camp. Although they are most likely headed to Bridgeport for their first professional seasons, is it possible they use their physical-style of play (something the Islanders need) to make enough impact to stick around a little bit longer?
And what about the Islanders previous two first-round picks, Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock? Could one of these defenseman prove enough to earn, at the very least, a 9-game trial at the NHL starting in October? As I mentioned, the Islanders could use the size, as well as another big shot from the blue-line.
Other prospects to keep an eye on include Johan Sundstrom, Alan Quine and Loic Leduc, all who stood out during July's scrimmage. Anders Nilsson will also be an active goaltender this week, so it should be interesting to see how he performs after a year of battling a mystery illness.
What we see on Long Island throughout the week could be the team's future, folks. While it may not be the training camp, Rookie Camp provides enough time for some of the young guys to truly make a name for themselves.
I'll keep you posted throughout the remainder of camp.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!