Five Burning Questions : New York Islanders

By Andy Graziano
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Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

3. Who survives what is sure to be an extremely competitive training camp and earns a break with the big club?

There is absolutely no doubt that training camp in 2013 will be unlike anything Islanders fans have seen in a long time.

No longer are veterans coming in with assured jobs due to the roster inequities. The rebuild has taken shape and produced a number of quality prospects who will be given every opportunity to show the coaching staff what they can bring to the club.

The most intriguing of those coming up the pipeline are certainly Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Matt Donovan, Calvin DeHaan and Griffin Reinhart.

In terms of the forward competition, most see only one (at most two) spots being available when the Islanders begin full training camp (most likely September 11). It was clear from brief auditions last season that Lee could use a season in Bridgeport to acclimate himself to the pure speed at this level. Nelson performed extremely well in an 8 minute showcase in game six of a must win playoff game. Strome has the most skill of the three and could slot next to Tavares and Moulson but some wonder if he needs to bulk up his frame before entering the grind of an 82 game professional season.

On defense, the only spot that looks to be in contention is the one vacated by former captain Mark Streit, who left for greener pastures in Philadelphia. Reinhart is big and tough with a little offensive flair but defensemen historically take longer than forwards to acclimate themselves and with a trip to Bridgeport impossible (given his age and junior status) a return to the WHL is most likely. DeHaan has battled shoulder injuries the past two seasons and after only playing 3 games with the Sound Tigers last season, could use a conditioning stint to get back into the flow of things. That leaves the player I am most looking forward to seeing, Donovan as the likely winner of the spot, granted he does not trip over the blueline in camp.