Despite the New York Islanders still needing to add a top-four defenseman to their blue line to help ensure themselves a chance at making the playoffs next season, they still have an abundance of d-men that are ready to compete for a regular spot in the line-up.
Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Thomas Hickey are likely four guaranteed defenseman to play on a nightly basis. Matt Carkner, Matt Donovan and Brian Strait are three blue liners that will play as well, solidifying six defenseman with one ready to sit and play when called upon.
With training camp starting in a few days, the Islanders finally have solid competition up and down their roster. New additions on offense, an influx of youth on defense and two new goaltenders means there will be battles everywhere in camp from start to finish.
Today marks the first day of September, meaning that New York Islanders training camp will be opening up in the next few weeks. This time of year gives the coaching staff an opportunity to observe the types of players they have developing in their system, test out line combinations, and see which prospects are prepared to take on full-time roles in the NHL.
Presently, the Isles have 16 forwards and seven defenseman on one-way contracts, including two legitimate NHL goaltenders who do not have to worry about fighting for their job.
That leaves the Isles with 25 players on their roster.
The 16 forwards is the number that got every hockey expert on the twitter-sphere proclaiming that Garth Snow was absolutely going to trade someone in order to bolster his blue line.
The New York Islanders have ended their 2014 season by finishing 26th in the league, good enough for the fifth overall pick in this year's draft lottery and a 34-37-11 record.
At this time last year, the Isles were 24-17-7, a record that was good enough to place them eighth in the Eastern Conference and allow them to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in a first round playoff series match-up.
Clearly, this was not the direction that the Islanders and their fan-base expected them to travel this year.
Regardless of their unexpected success taking them into the playoffs last year, there were many areas that the Islanders needed to improve coming into the current season. The core of the team was established, but among many other things the defensive corps was a major concern and the departure of captain Mark Streit only made things worse.
The New York Islanders continued their recent strong play at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night as they doubled-up the Florida Panthers 4-2. The win was the Islanders third straight on home ice and improved their overall record to 30-35-10 on the year. The win also helped the Islanders stave off elimination officially for one more night as it continues play tomorrow night in Ottawa against the Senators.
The Islanders look to finish up their homestand Sunday afternoon on a high note as they take on their Metropolitan rival Columbus Blue Jackets 1pm at the Nassau Coliseum. It will be the third of four matchups as Columbus has taken the first two, including the Islanders’ home opener. In what was a sign for things to come, the Islanders blew a 2-0 third period lead before falling to Columbus in the shootout 3-2. The two met again in Columbus in November where the Blue Jackets scored three times in the third period to win 5-2. (Photo credit: paul.hadsall/flickr).
Plagued by injuries, and shorthanded by recent trades, the Isles will field a lineup consisting of many who started the season in Connecticut. This is even truer in light of Michael Grabner’s concussion. There is no time table for Grabner’s return, and in truth, it’s not likely he will play again this season. Therefore on Thursday, the Islanders recalled Johan Sundstrom from Bridgeport.