Islanders Season Preview : Questions? We Got Answers

By Andy Graziano
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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

2. Which Of The Islanders Young, Emerging Prospects Cracks The Lineup This Season?

Andy – There really is no reason for me to change the view I have had all summer long and throughout training camp. Matt Donovan will not only surprise but impress a lot of Islanders fans with his skill and determination. He will bring a nice offensive touch from the blue line that will complement Lubomir Visnovsky nicely.

Rich – Sort of a moot point at this juncture, but I am glad to see Matt Donovan and Brock Nelson emerging from the rookie pool and earning an NHL jersey. Nelson earned his spot with a combination of strong (however limited) postseason reps and an equally impressive training camp—a good third-liner in the making. Donovan’s two-way play is exactly what the Islanders need more of this season on defense.

Mike W – Defenseman Matt Donovan is the leader in the clubhouse for the opening on the Islanders blue line after the departure of Mark Streit. His two-way game is well-suited to fill Streit’s role on the ice and his maturity level is right up there with John Tavares’s. Donovan is undoubtedly on the Isles roster Opening Night.

Chris – Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome both see time with the Isles offensive unit. Matt Donovan will get his shot on defense. Out of the gate, Matt Donovan and Brock Nelson will be there.

Eric – Gotta be Ryan Strome. He has huge offensive upside and he has a JT like hunger for success. I think gets the call at some point this season and they don’t make a Nino like mistake with him.

Mike R – This is a tough question because I see a couple of the young guys cracking the lineup eventually and doing really well.  The one guy I believe starts with the big club and contributes early, is Andy’s favorite young defenseman Matt Donovan. It’s all I heard from him the past few months, and after watching some tape on him, I would conquer he is gonna be a good one.

Shane – I think Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan earn the right to start this season on Long Island.  I will go as far as to say that I think Regin will be the player scratched when Clutterbuck returns and Nelson will remain in the lineup.

Pete – I feel that Brock Nelson will have the third line center position. He is the best two-way forward in the Islanders’ system, and he deserves the spot. And no with CLuttterbuck being injured, there is a chance Strome will have an Opening Night spot. He probably won’t stay with the team after Clutterbuck returns, but Strome will serve as a nice replacement assuming Clutterbuck isn’t cleared for opening night. As for defense, I go back on my further opinion and say Calvin de Haan will get the open spot on defense. He had a solid camp, and he’s ready to assume a role on this Islanders team. He should have a good rookie campaign, and he’ll certainly be entertaining to watch.

Reagan – If betting talking conservatively, my money would be on Matt Donovan. From what I’ve heard/read, he seems to be ready to take on a full time NHL role. With a lack of offensive dmen now that Mark Streit is out, Donovan has put up the numbers in the past to replace Streit’s offensive power. 48 points in 75 games (.64 pts/game) would allow for the Isles to make a smooth transition from Streit to Donovan.  

Joe – In a prospect pool that is ranked second in the NHL, Strome is the team’s best, but there is no guarantee that he will make the big squad. Bringing in the likes of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin are not there to provide competition for Strome, they were brought in more as a safety net in case the youngster isn’t ready. If he does make the team, not only is there a chance he’s put next to Tavares as a winger, but he also gets time on the power play. He’s dynamic, he’s a good blend of flashy and smart and he will be putting up huge numbers in a matter of no time. IF he is with the Islanders in October and plays a full season, expect 20 goals and 20 assists (bold prediction).