Isles Applications for 2013
It's hard to predict the roster for 2013 when 2012 hasn't even finished yet, let alone the fact that Garth Snow hasn't decided which of his impending UFA's will be brought back. Free agency is still a far away fantasy as well. But for some hockey players currently wearing Islanders uniforms, the immediate future has been fresh in their minds for quite some time.
Players like Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom, Dylan Reese and Nino Niederreiter will be looking to make some lasting impressions on the coaching staff over the next seven games that will close out the Islanders' season. The first three will more than likely be sent back to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers once the NHL regular season ends in order to assist the farm team with their playoff run.
The latter will likely take to the green with the rest of his teammates.
Nino won't have the pleasure of extending his season in the minors...not just yet anyway. Niederreiter could not legally play in the AHL this year due to age restrictions, but he will be eligible next year. As I've stated before, Snow has said that the minor league would have been an ideal transition for a player that had proved himself better than Junior hockey, but that wasn't possible. Being that his rookie year started with two separate injuries to only be followed up with limited ice time on the fourth line with a career minor league center and an aging veteran, the AHL should look good to Nino Niederreiter. It will give him a chance to get his scoring touch back, build some confidence and learn the professional game as a top-six forward. Once he's shown that he no longer belongs in the AHL, like he did with the WHL, then Niederreiter should return - hopefully with flying colors. (MVerminski/Flickr)
Dylan Reese has shown that he is a much better defenseman than he was last year, but his inability to contribute offensively (1g, 3a) in 23 games continues to show that he is only a reliable seventh defenseman. Assuming the Isles offer him another contract - and he accepts it - Reese should continue to be a solid call-up from the minors. Anything other than that just seems a little too much for him to handle at this stage of his career.
Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom have probably made the biggest impressions on Islanders management. Although neither player has been flashy or jaw-dropping, they both play hard along the wall, fight for loose pucks, go hard to the net and have not looked out of place in the NHL. Ullstrom could use some added size (I know he's listed as 192 pounds, but if you saw him after a game, he does NOT look it) and Cizikas could try to work on his scoring touch. He has done a good job earning a few assists in the short time he's spent with the club, but his goal scoring that was seen with the Tigers has not found its way for his first NHL goal.
The funny thing is that the same can be said for veteran center Marty Reasoner, who has been in the middle of the fourth line all season long. He still hasn't scored a goal this year and has looked terrible in the defensive zone several times this season. Could Cizikas or Ullstrom push Reasoner off the roster with their hard working play? Reasoner does have one-year left on his contract, but that could lead to a very affordable buyout, or even a trade.
Who do you think has earned themselves a chance to permanently play for the Islanders next season?