The New York Islanders have put themselves back in the win column after squeezing past the Boston Bruins. This is the Islanders’ first home win against the Bruins in 8 years. The Islanders only managed to put the puck behind Tukka Rask once. But, they only needed one goal to win, as Semyon Varlamov played another excellent game. Varlamov has played so well this season that he now holds the Islanders franchise record for most minutes played without a goal allowed.
Statistically, Varlamov is the best goalie in the NHL right now, holding a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 GAA. There was some great play from a few players, and also some bad play from a few players. The Islanders will be analyzed as a team through each period, not by individual performances.
The Islanders just looked absolutely rusty in the first period. Only 2 shots on net all period, and not much offensive zone time at all. There were a bunch of turnovers committed, and the defensemen couldn’t hold the blue line to save their lives. The only player who shined in this first period was, of course, Semyon Varlamov. He stopped all 10 shots that came his way and just overall looked very calm in between the pipes. Also, the penalty kill looked very good again.
This felt like the fastest period I’ve ever seen in Hockey. I’m not saying that the time went off the clock very quickly. But, the tempo was increased dramatically. There was no whistle for over 3 minutes at one point. Chances back n’ forth for each team, none of them converting, and the Islanders missed the net on almost all their chances. It was a setup period for what happened in the third.
The Islanders finally pieced it all together in this period. It’s hard to beat a team where everyone is giving 100% on every single shift. Players like Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, and even Jordan Eberle gave it everything they had. Cal Clutterbuck hit everything in his vision. Matt Martin surpassed 3,000 career hits, putting him in the top 5 of hits among active players. Varlamov continued to be solid in between the pipes. The forwards jumped up in the neutral zone to force turnovers, and the defensemen pinched up behind them. This all led to the lone goal of the night, a J.G. Pageau tip-in. Sometimes all you need is a lucky bounce to win, I’m sure the Islanders are glad that it went their way.
The New York Rangers will host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night in another tough divisional battle.
New York Rangers: 1-1 New Jersey Devils: 1-0-1 Venue: Madison Square Garden Television: MSG Networks Radio: ESPN 98.7
The New York Rangers look to build on their 5-0 shutout over the New York Islanders on Saturday night when the Devils come to Broadway on Tuesday night.
Head coach David Quinn confirmed the same lineup would be used on Tuesday night following practice while also announcing that Alexandar Georgiev would start in net for the Blueshirts. Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo will sit for the second straight contest.
“Much more about sticking with what worked. The discipline piece is done and over with,” Quinn said of DeAngelo as was reported by beat writer Vince Mercogliano.
The Rangers were 1-for-8 vs. NY Islanders on the power play and killed off all four penalties they took on Saturday night.
The Blueshirts’ game against New Jersey tomorrow is one of only 10 scheduled games this season that is not part of a multiple-game set against one of their opponents (also Feb. 4 vs. WSH, Feb. 6 at NJD, Feb. 8 vs. NYI, Feb. 24 at PHI, Mar. 2 vs. BUF, Mar. 19 at WSH, Mar. 22 vs. BUF, Apr. 20 at NYI, Apr. 23 vs. PHI) via the new york Rangers PR Department.
Mika Zibanejead and Pavel Buchnevich are tied for the team lead in goals scored with two goals each. For the Devils, Myles Wood leads the teams in goals also with two.
This will be the Devil’s first road game of the year. Jack Hughes, the Devil’s first overall selection in last year’s draft, has three assists in the team’s first two games this year.
New Jersey is 0-8 on the power-play this season while allowing one short-handed goal.
The New York Islanders season finally begins tonight after a 3-month layoff since their last game. I just want to say what a great job the NHL has done handling Coronavirus. Not a single league, other than maybe the UFC, has handled COVID-19 better than the NHL.
Back to the Islanders. This 2021 Islanders team is basically the same team as the 2020 team, but it feels different. With additions of Ilya Sorokin and other 3rd liners. The development of Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows. This team, on paper, looks better than the 2020 team, even without Devon Toews. Hockey is finally back, and with a new season comes new predictions.
Top New York Islanders predictions for the 2021 season:
Mat Barzal Bounces Back
It’s weird when a pro-athlete scores 60 points in 68 games, and it’s a down year. But this just shows how talented Mat Barzal really is. My biggest critique of Barzal at one point was the fact that he never shot the puck. Barzal would always pass it to someone who was covered instead of taking an open shot. Barzal only took 170 shots last year, he needs to take around 220 in a full season. But then the playoffs came, and he finally started shooting the puck. And when a dangerous player gets the puck on the net, good things happen. With a good backcheck and some more effort on defense, it looks like Barzal could become a top center in this league.
Anthony Beauvillier Leads the Team in Goals
This is somewhat of a bold prediction due to the goal scoring talent at the center position. Brock Nelson, JG Pageau, and Mat Barzal are normally the ones who lead the team in scoring. But, there’s something undeniable in the way that Beauvillier plays. He’s a baby flame who’s just getting ready to scorch the whole house. With linemates like Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, there’s a big possibility that this can happen.
Adam Pelech gets in the Norris Trophy Race.
Adam Pelech has been the Islanders’ best-kept secret for the longest time. Pelech is probably the most underrated defenseman in the entire league. I would go as far as to say that Pelech is the most important player on the team. The Islanders slumped so terribly when Pelech got hurt the Isles went 10-13-7 and let up around 3 goals a game. But, when Pelech’s healthy, they went 25-10-3 and let up only around 2.5 goals a game. If the Norris trophy actually focused on defense, Pelech would’ve won it by now.
Ilya Sorokin Wins the Calder
The rookie of the year goes to the 25-year-old Ilya Sorokin. There’s actually zero doubt in my mind about this. The only thing that may be holding him back is the fact that Varlamov is the starter. Sorokin was the best goalie outside of the NHL. Now that he’s here, I don’t know if anyone can stop him.
The New York Islanders are just a day away from their season opener against the New York Rangers. As training camp closes out, the NHL requires all 31 teams to hand in an official roster. Now, obviously, things are subject to change, not everything is set in stone just yet. There were definitely some shocking moves made within the past 24 hours in the Islanders organization. Which move was the most shocking, and which move didn’t mean anything?
As I’ve stated before, Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were both placed on waivers on Sunday. Both of them actually cleared and will report to Bridgeport. Andrew Ladd was also placed on waivers and went unclaimed. Leo Komarov and Dmytro Timashov were waived, but it’s a paper transaction. What I mean by this is that they are still on the team, but due to cap restraints, they had to be waived. Don’t be worried, Isles fans, Timashov has a contract. Finally, Bode Wilde and Samuel Bolduc were sent to Bridgeport.
The taxi squad is a new addition to the NHL due to COVID-19. The Islanders placed Kieffer Bellows, Austin Cznarik, Otto Koivula, and Jakub Skarek on the squad. Again, the Bellows move is a paper transaction, will most definitely be on the third line tomorrow night. Corey Schneider is not under contract yet, so he cannot be on the squad. Look for him to sign within the next 3 days. I also believe that Sebastian Aho will join this squad and maybe Oliver Wahlstrom.
The Islanders placed Michael Dal Colle on injury reserve. At this time, Lou Lamoriello has not commented on Dal Colle’s situation. Lamoriello has stated that he is perfectly fine with Johnston and Martin on the ice every night. He sees no redundancy. Trotz stated that Wahlstrom and Bellows playing together is a possibility and may happen later this season. Finally, Thomas Hickey will be the 7th defender.
The New York Rangers are entering their 95th campaign in the National Hockey League. This season has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic, but the hard work during the offseason has kept the organization focused since last season concluded in the Toronto Bubble.
The club has been preparing for a marathon 56 game schedule, which begins on Jan. 14 against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden and concludes on May 8 in Boston against the Bruins.
Empire Sports Media writers Jim Bay and Frank Curto take a look at what has transpired since the Blueshirts were eliminated from the playoffs last summer in the qualifying round against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Team President John Davison, along with general manager Jeff Gorton is set to bring the youngest team in the NHL back to the playoffs in an attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994. Plenty of obstacles stand in their way, yet the team is set up for success as they play in the toughest division in the NHL this season.
Players come and go, but the one constant is the name on the front of the sweater. Here is a look at the upcoming season’s preview, oh baby, this is going to be a lot of fun.
The Rangers traded veteran defenseman Marc Staal to Detroit on Sept. 26, 2020, and the forward Jesper Fast signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes. The toughest transaction was the buyout of 15-year veteran Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers selected the first overall selection in this year’s NHL Draft, Alexis Lafreniere. Gorton and Quinn have high expectations for the success of rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller as he looks to make the team out of training camp. Brendan Smith could be on the bubble with so many new faces on defense.
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid was originally brought in to help ease the team’s expansion draft requirement, but now could be a valuable asset in the Covid pandemic abbreviated season.
The first line will be led by Zibanejad, who was a goal-scoring machine last year with 41 goals in 57 games, a ridiculous 59-goal pace over a full season, with 15 of those coming on the power play. Zibanejad made some nice improvements in creating more chances at both even strength and on the power play, with the hope that the 15 percent and 26 percent rates continue into this season.
Kreider and Buchnevich will again flank Zibanejad on either side, and both have “analytically” graded out as productive top-six players for the team. The chemistry that the trio achieved was a huge reason why the Rangers improved so much in the second half of the season.
The second line will be anchored by Panarin, who will have Strome returning, will see Kakko added as his linemate to start the season.
What Panarin has brought to the Rangers is not only on-ice results but also how much of a positive influence he has on his linemates and teammates. This will hopefully hold true for Kakko, who showed signs of improvement upon returning to play in the summer after the league was paused due to the pandemic.
The bottom six is where the Rangers struggled last season. Help will come in the form of the first overall pick in the draft, Alexis Lafreniere.
It is tough to see how quickly Lafreniere will adapt to the NHL game with a small camp and no preseason games to evaluate his skills. However, many projection models have him getting 57 points this year. That may seem high for a first-year player, but with the skills that he brings to the team, this seems achievable.
Much of this may depend on his linemates. Chytil has been projected for improvement this year after being a negative goal contributor last season to an expected positive one this year. Gauthier presents some grittiness and size that could complement his linemates.
Howden will hopefully solidify the third line and has had a nice camp. During Zibanejad’s absence at the beginning of camp, Howden stepped in on the first line and did quite well. He also impressed those with his play during last summer’s playoffs. Lemieux provides the grit for this line, and hopefully, not too much-unwanted attention from the referees. Last season, Di Giuseppe provided the solid and steady play that you want to see from a bottom-six contributor.
The defense will look to improve this season. Jacob Trouba will enter his second season on Broadway and needs to be better than he was last season. By his own acknowledgment, he was not happy with how things progressed, though he seemed more comfortable as the season concluded.
The dynamic duo of Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren was the highlight of the defense corp. The two rookies became stronger once they were paired together by former defensive coach Lindsy Ruff. With a year under their belt, the two could be the team’s top pair and see plenty of ice time once again.
The club has plenty of new faces on the back end, with rookie K’Andre Miller leading the way. Miller has been praised by the head coach in training camp earning a roster spot on opening night.
Jack Johnson along with Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith will be pushing each other early on to be in the lineup every night.
Igor Shesterkin will take the reigns as the team’s number one goaltender this season. With such a condensed schedule, Alexandar Georgiev should expect more playing time and responsibility with the teams playing a marathon like a schedule.
Taxi Squad Projected Players
The taxi squad will be a big piece of the puzzle for the Blueshirts. With the AHL delaying the start of their season until Feb. 5, the Rangers are eligible to carry a minimum of 4 to a maximum of six players. These players can practice and travel with the team but are not on the active roster until they are recalled.
Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers were one of the most complete teams in the NHL last season, finishing in the top 10 in both goals scored and allowed. With their team from last year mostly intact, they are my favorite to win this division.
Boston Bruins – Boston suffered some notable losses on the blueline in Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, and that might be enough to put them behind the Flyers. However, with a top offensive line and goaltending tandem, don’t be surprised to see them win this division.
The Pens still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so you have to put them in the top four.
Washington Capitals – The high scoring offense should carry them, put questions with their goaltending may them one of the leading contenders to get bumped by either the Rangers or Islanders.
New York Rangers– The Blueshirts have many obstacles with this season that will be difficult for a talented but a young team to overcome. A short training camp with no preseason games is not ideal for a young team, especially when you have the first overall in Alexis Lafreniere coming to town. Playing a 56 game season will not help either.
New York Islanders – In addition to not wanting to put them ahead of the Rangers, this is still quite a mysterious team. Last season, they were two games from the Stanley Cup Final in spite of the fact they allowed more goals than they scored in the regular season.
Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres did get better in the offseason, but playing against such tough divisional opponents every night will mean that they will finish ahead of only New Jersey.
New Jersey Devils– The Devils hope that Jack Hughes will be better, but the Devils are still destined for the bottom of the division. The recent retirement of Corey Crawford will not help either.
MVP: Artemi Panarin Rookie of the Year: Alexis Lafreniere Top Defenseman: Adam Fox Most Improved: Kaapo Kakko Players Player: Brendan Lemieux Steven McDonald Extra Effort: Mika Zibanejad Leading Goal Scorer: Mika Zibaenjad – 48G Points Leader: Artemi Panarin- 90 Pts.
Photo via NewYorkRangers.com
The unusual 56 game schedule will see the Rangers face only the other members of the temporary Eastern Division and will not have any preseason games for their young players, such as first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, to gel with their new teammates outside of the two-week training camp period.
One of the “benefits” of this schedule is that the Rangers will also get eight contests with some of the rivals, including the Islanders, Devis, and Flyers.
In this compact schedule, there are some important times that stand out over the slightly condensed schedule this season that commences for the Rangers on January 14.
Like in a horse race, it is important to get out of the gate well, and this will also be the case for the Blueshirts this season. Easier said than done, especially as they face the Islanders in their first two games to start the season. The opening stretch will also see the Blueshirts face the Devils, as well as four meetings split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.
February will be a challenging month as, on the 10th, the Rangers start a stretch of games with two against Boston before a two-game battle with the Flyers. They then head to Washington to play the Capitals twice, play the Flyers once more, capping things off with two more meetings with the Bruins. This stretch should show whether the Rangers are a true playoff contender or not.
After facing three games against Sabres and Devils, March will again see the Rangers run through a gauntlet of Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington for most of the month. If they are going to survive this stretch, they must reverse the fortunes of 2019-20 that saw the Rangers go a combined 0-5-1 against the Bruins and Flyers.
April will see the Rangers play many games against the Islanders, Devils, and Sabres. In fact, starting on April 9, the Rangers will have back-to-back road games against the Islanders and then play four straight against the Devils before capping it off with a final tilt with the Isles. Any chance to stay or get into playoff contention may hinge on the outcome of the games, against teams that the Rangers went 3-1 against (Islanders) and 2-2 (Devils) in 2019-20.
The Rangers will need their top players to play as they did last season. The pressure will be heavy once again on Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin to have consecutive great seasons shield the Blueshirts look to replicate last season’s playoff run.
Igor Shesterkin takes over for Henrik Lundqvist, huge skates to fill but something Shesterkin is capable of doing.
The wild card is the head coach himself. Dave Quinn and his coaching staff will walk a fine line between coaching the veterans, along with bringing the younger players through one of the most demanding schedules since the early 1970s.
There are no easy games this season, no time to take a night off. A team that has a rich tradition along with high expectations from its fan base will need to find the right chemistry out of the gate in order to keep up with the teams within this division.
This season will be like no other. A schedule that has the Rangers playing each division opponent eight times, Covid protocols that will have games postponed and re-scheduling at almost a daily pace, and playing most games in front of little or no fans at all.
2020-2021 season will be the hardest battle of endurance and stamina the Rangers have ever encountered. The reward will be more precious should the team exceed their expectations.
It all begins Thursday night at the world’s most famous arena when the Rangers host the biggest rivals in the NHL.
Empire Sports Media Writers Predictions
We have some great writers at ESM, So Jim Bay and I asked what they predict will transpire in the upcoming season.
Brandon Schnapp Most Goals: Panarin Most Points: Zibanejad MVP: Panarin Best Defenseman: Fox Rookie of the Year: Lafreniere
The team will miss the playoffs (Brandon is an Islanders fan, BTW)
Jim Bay Most Goals: Panarin
Most Points: Panarin
Best Defenseman: Trouba
Rookie of the Year: Shesterkin
Playoffs: Not this year
Frank Curto Most Goals: Panarin Most Points: Zibanejad MVP: Panarin Best Defenseman: Fox Rookie of the Year: Shesterkin Playoffs: Yes, will be eliminated in the second round
Goals: Panarin Points: Ziba MVP: Panarin Defenseman: DeAngelo Rookie of the Year: Lafreniere
Playoffs: The team makes the playoffs, eliminated in the second round.
The New York Islanders continued their training camp with another scrimmage yesterday. It was a “for real” scrimmage with the official game jersey’s given out to everyone participating. The teams were blue vs. white as always. The blue team’ forwards consisted of Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, J.G. Pageau, Ross Johnston, Andrew Ladd, Otto Koivula, and Michael Dal Colle. The defenseman for the blue team: Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Hickey, Bode Wilde, Sebastian Aho, and Grant Hutton. Semyon Varlamov was in between the pipes. Now, the forwards for the white team were: Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, the fourth line, A.J. Greer, Austin Cznarik, Leo Komarov, and Simon Holmstrom. The defensive lineup consisted of Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Andy Greene, Noah Dobson, Parker Wotherspoon, and Samuel Bolduc. Ilya Sorokin was the starting goalie. This scrimmage got very interesting.
Jordan Eberle opened up the scoring by putting one past Semyon Varlamov on the opening shift. J.G. Pageau would then respond with the equalizer after scoring in his favorite spot, the crease. This was the first goal that Ilya Sorokin allowed all camp. When it rains, it pours, Grant Hutton put another one past Ilya Sorokin on a rush. Next, Kieffer Bellows believed he scored to open up the third period on Ilya Sorokin. This goal would end up counting. Then, Oliver Wahlstrom would pop out of the penalty box and score on Ilya Sorokin. This would effectively win the game for the blue team. The final score was 4-1.
Samuel Bolduc had an all-around great day, he even dumped Beauvillier to the ice after spinning away from him. The third line of Pageau, Wahlstrom, and Bellows all scored goals today and played excellent defense. Don’t be surprised if that’s the opening night third line. Although Ilya Sorokin let in 4 goals yesterday, he played very well and stopped many other scoring chances. Do not panic, Islander fans, it’s just a scrimmage. Semyon Varlamov played great yesterday and stopped nearly everything that came his way. Varlamov will get the opening night start, but Sorokin could play on Saturday. Noah Dobson and Ryan Pulock have been playing on the same PP unit, most likely the squad for opening night. Also, Casey Cizikas was involved in a three-way collision with Thomas Hickey and Matt Martin, his status is trending upwards.
Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were put on waivers yesterday. I believe this will effectively end Ho-Sang’s time with the Islanders. Though Thomas Hickey has had a good camp, he will most likely be traded. Look for the Islanders to try and pick up someone on waivers today. Barry Trotz has stated that Bode Wilde could become the next John Carlson which is great news. Finally, the Islanders only have two more skates left before January 14th.
The day all New York Islander fans have been waiting for is here. Franchise center Mat Barzal has finally re-signed. It’s been months of questions, and none of these questions have been answered until today.
Barzal signs a 3-year deal worth $7 million dollars per. It’s a bridge deal, which everyone expected, and it ends in 2023 when the Isles are out of cap trouble. Barzal’s contract breakdown reads as such: $3 million dollars in 2021 plus an extra $1 million dollars for signing. $7 million dollars in 2022, and $10 million dollars in 2023. Barzal has missed 4 days of training camp so far. Will, the lack of preparation hurt Mat Barzal’s performance?
Mat Barzal is a professional Hockey player. Do you really think he wouldn’t be prepared to play? Barzal has been skating with former Islanders, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk. Along with current Islander, Tom Kuhnhackl. Barzal was also skating around with different NHL players before training camp began.
When people prepared for something the way Barzal has, they care about that something. Mat Barzal stated in an interview today that he loves Long Island and never thought about going anywhere else. He also stated that the negotiations were very fair for both sides, and he knows he has to work on his consistency.
My coach, Matt Johnson, also said, “big players make big plays in big-time games.” Well, today wasn’t a big-time game, but Barzal made some big plays. In just two shifts, Barzal managed to score two goals and make Noah Dobson look lost. There’s no denying the talent that Barzal possesses, but there definitely was some concern about performance after missing four training camp days. It’s time to put those rumors to rest; Barzal looks perfectly fine. All he has to do is back check better, and the long term deal with the Isles he wants will be on the table in 2023.
The New York Islanders have successfully retained another one of their free agents not named Mat Barzal. Yesterday, it was reported that Tom Kuhnhackl was on the training camp roster. But, just like his teammate Mat Barzal, Kuhnhackl did not take the ice. This was either due to the fact that he didn’t sign a contract yet or his shoulder wasn’t ready to go.
It seems as if it was the second reason as the Islanders announced that Kuhnhackl signed a PTO. What is a PTO? It’s basically a professional tryout, it’s what Mike Hoffman signed last week with the St. Louis Blues. In the case of the Isles, Kuhnhackl signed a PTO because they need to sign Barzal first. Then they will use the rest of their money to sign Kuhnhackl. What does Kuhnhackl bring to the Islanders?
Tom Kuhnhackl never played better Hockey than when the Isles played the Panthers in the play-in round. His forechecking was outstanding, the third line was the best line in that series for this reason. They gave the opposition absolutely no time to get settled and set up a play. Kuhnhackl created a couple of goals based on his board play in the offensive zone. Kuhnhackl always gives his all in every single game, and this team needs more of that effort. I believe that Kuhnhackl could definitely take that Left-Wing spot on the third line once again.
The Islanders don’t need more veterans who can teach the young guns, but that’s what Kuhnhackl is. Kuhnhackl is a winner, he won 2 Stanley Cups in back to back years with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, Kuhnhackl has never missed the playoffs in his NHL career. Kuhnhackl brings a winning mentality and knows how to get it done in the playoffs.
Longtime New York Islanders enforcer Matt Martin has just signed a new deal to stay with the team. The deal is worth $1.5 million dollars over 4 years. A long deal, but this will certainly keep Martin in town for the rest of his career. This deal is beautiful if you truly know what the 4th line brings to this team. There are several implications for the team’s plan going into the future with this contract. So, what does Matt Martin’s new contract mean for the Islanders?
Ross Johnston’s Future
Ross Johnston was signed to a four-year deal worth $1 million dollars a year recently. Martin has also been re-signed for four years, so what does this mean for Ross Johnston? I believe this is basically the end for him on the Islanders. I will forever standby the fact that Martin is a better Hockey player than Johnston. When you need someone to apply pressure and maybe score, you put in Martin. When you need an enforcer who can just beat people up, you put in Johnston.
This is the NHL, not the UFC. Playing good Hockey is way more important than beating up the other team and taking penalties.
Other Players’ Contracts
Thomas Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, Corey Schnieder, and Mat Barzal all still need new contracts. Corey Schneider will probably sign the 1 year, $700k deal that he was reported to sign in October.
Andy Greene will most likely also sign for an amount around that. I would say a deal around 1 year worth $850k.
Mat Barzal will take almost all of the remaining cap space left with about $800k left for Kuhnhackl. Johnny Boychuk must officially retire first for all this to work, I don’t know what’s the holdup though. And Dmytro Timashov’s new deal is still waiting to be announced. Don’t worry Isles fans, they will resign Barzal soon.
New York Islanders‘ training camp officially hit the ice this morning. And just before the team hit the ice, general manager Lou Lamoriello released the official training camp roster. There were 34 skaters and 4 goalies on this roster, and it managed to answer so many questions. Without any further stalling or build-up, who made it to the 2021 Islanders’ training camp?
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Mat Barzal is on the training camp roster, but he did not take the ice today. This means Barzal has taken a physical and can get on the ice the second he signs his next contract. Another surprise was forward, Tom Kuhnhackl. This offseason, it looked as if Kuhnhackl was forgotten, but I guess Lamoriello had another trick up his sleeve. Kuhnhackl also didn’t take the ice today, it’s either he doesn’t have a contract yet, or because of his shoulder. Dmytro Timashov was on the ice, and that means he did receive an official contract, so that’s one less person to sign. Also, Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom made a few good defensive plays today. Finally, Josh Ho-Sang has still not been invited to camp, and his time with the Islanders has gotten even more toxic than my last relationship.
The Islanders invited 12 defensemen to training camp, and only half of them will be playing on opening night. Honestly, I don’t see a single top 6 spot up for grabs right now. There are 6 defensemen competing to be the next man up if an injury occurs. This is the case unless Andy Greene just totally forgets what Hockey is. I think either Sebastian Aho or Grant Hutton will receive the honor of being called the 7th defenseman.
Four goalies received an invite to Islanders’ training camp this year. Take a guess who got invited. Obviously, Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin would get an invite. And there literally is no one else behind them other than Corey Schneider and Jakub Skarek. No shockers here. This is the full training camp roster. The Isles are in for another successful season if they can develop their young guns properly.