Strome and Pandolfo Earn Contracts With Islanders
The New York Islanders announced today that former New Jersey Devils forward Jay Pandolfo, who had been playing with the Islanders during the pre-season on a tryout, and Ryan Strome, the team's 5th overall pick in 2011, were both signed to contracts with the team before today's 5 PM deadline.
Pandolfo's contract is for one year, likely serving as a member of the team's fourth line unit and a veteran penalty killer. Whether or not he will be in the line up on opening night is unknown as Reasoner will be at center with Matt Martin, Brian Rolston and Trevor Gillies competing with Pandolfo for the names to be on the roster.
However, Gillies is currently on the IR with a groin strain and will only be the team's enforcer whenever head coach Jack Capuano feels the need to dress him. Rolston, who has also been battling a groin injury, will try to compete for a top-six spot but might not find any room at the beginning. Rolston was quoted in Newsday yesterday, saying that he expects to be ready to go on opening night despite not playing in any of the team's pre-season games, leaving Matt Martin as the major competitor against Pandolfo.
At 36-years-old, Pandolfo will provide depth in the line-up if the team is hit with the injury bug, thus preventing the Islanders to constantly call up young, inexperienced forwards from the Sound Tigers. But from this blogger's perspective, I would much rather see the younger players, in this case Matt Martin, get the playing time they need in order to develop. Martin has showed that he has value on the PK units and is an effective agitator on the fourth line that can pot in a few points, allowing some to believe he can develop into more than just your average depth enforcer. But in the end, having experienced healthy bodies is important.
Strome's entry-level contract gives the organization the opportunity to have him appear in at least nine games with the Islanders before deciding on whether or not they should send him back to Juniors. As many fans remember, Nino Niederreiter had the same play out for him before he was sent back for an impressive year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. But El Nino is currently on the IR, which might give Capuano and GM Garth Snow something to think about, especially if Rolston doesn't seem ready by Saturday. But unless Strome blows everyone away and shows that he is someone that can already contribute on the top-three lines on a consistent basis, he would probably be best served by at least another year of Junior hockey.
Kirill Kabanov, Dylan Reese and Trevor Frischmon are the other skaters that still remain with the big club with an uncertain future. The roster has to be trimmed down to 23 by Saturday (keep in mind the team will have three goalies on the Island), and all three are eligible to be sent down to the AHL. Kabanov can return to his Junior team in Montreal...but you have to wonder if Snow would rather keep a tab on the former Russian bad boy in Bridgeport rather than let him go to party city in Canada.
We won't have to wait long to know for sure.
Opening night for the Islanders is this Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum vs. the Florida Panthers at 8 PM.
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