Rookies Set To Hit The Ice Today For The Islanders

Can you feel it Isles fans?

The drive for the 2014 National Hockey League Playoffs begins today as a host of Islanders rookies hit the ice to begin a rookie camp that will run until the eve of the regular training camp that begins September 11th.

What to expect out of this camp?

Let’s start with some background information, like the roster. According to a press release like the one referenced in this New York Hockey Journal article, the following players will be involved:

Forwards:

Jason Clark, Victor Crus Rydberg, Joe Diamond, Mike Halmo, Kirill Kabanov, Anders Lee, Greg Miller, Brock Nelson, John Persson, Alan Quine, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom and Riley Wetmore

Defensemen:

Kyle Burroughs, Marc Cantin, Mike Dalhuisen, Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Jesse Graham, Dallas Jackson, Mike Keenan (no, not that Mike Keenan!), Loic, Leduc, Scott, Mayfield, Aaron Ness, Andrey Pedan, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart

Goalies:

Parker Milner, Anders Nilsson and Ken Reiter

A good portion of the players attending this camp will be either returned to their junior teams or skating for Bridgeport in the coming season, with a few possibly being released. Even still there are some players to watch. Here are a few:

Ryan Strome- Strome was the Islanders first round pick, 5th overall, in the 2011 NHL entry draft. The extremely gifted center played some right wing for Bridgeport after his junior season ended last year. Could that hint at his future role with the Islanders? Possibly. Whether it’s at center or on the wing, Strome needs to show Isles’ brass that he’s ready for the NHL in the main camp. It would be wise for him to use the rookie camp to build momentum.

Calvin de Haan- de Haan has been slowed by a series of shoulder injuries the past few seasons, but don’t count him out. He can skate, he has vision, and he makes a nice first pass out of the defensive zone. The former first rounder has decent size as well. All he needs is to stay healthy. If he can, and he can show well at the rookie camp and the main camp, he has a real shot to stay on the Island. de Haan is one to watch.

Anders Nilsson- The big Swedish goalie had a rough year last year, barely getting any action in Bridgeport. This was due to an undiagnosed allergy to gluten and dairy products that kept him fatigued all season. He’s healthy now and needs this camp to get used to the action. Nilsson is currently slated to start the season as the number one goalie in Bridgeport, but the Isles hold him in high regard. If he can get back to the form he showed two seasons ago, New York might have to find him a spot on the Island, at Kevin Poulin’s expense.

Matt Donovan- Quick quiz: who was the second highest scoring defenseman in the American Hockey League last year? That’s right, Matt Donovan. As a matter of fact, Donovan has 93 points over his last two seasons in the AHL. With the departure of Mark Streit via trade, the door is wide open for an offensive-minded defenseman like Donovan to earn a spot on the power play, and as a result, on the team. To snag that spot, Donovan needs to build a rhythm in the rookie camp and carry it over to the main camp.

Brock Nelson- Nelson had 25 goals last season in Bridgeport and the young centerman definitely did not look out of place in the Islanders roster during game six of the playoffs last season. His job in this camp is like Strome’s: build momentum to take to the main camp. In reality, he has the skill, size, and hockey sense to be the Islanders third line center out of camp.

Anders Lee- Lee joined the Isles late last season, played well and even got a goal in his first game. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be an Islander at the start of the season. Lee may be the odd man out in a numbers game, or he may raise a few eyebrows and be on the third line against the Devils on opening night. Lee’s best bet will be to dominate the rookie camp and leave the Isles no option but to keep him out of camp.

No matter how it shakes out, the rookie camp should be an exciting affair. Too bad it isn’t open to the public. The New York Islanders will definitely have a ton of talent on display.

-Donovan Brooks

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