At this years, training camp the New York Islanders are going to have to trim down their active roster. The competition for spots is going to be outstanding.
Every year at training camp cuts are made. The New York Islanders start out with a huge list of players to look at, and by October they widdle it down to an active roster of 23 players.
We still have a few weeks to go before camp opens for the 2018-19 season, but it’s clear that a number of positions are up for grabs for the New York Islanders. Notably the second line center, a number of spots in the bottom six, and even a seventh defenseman.
Second Line Center
Coming over from the KHL, no one is sure what to expect from Jan Kovar. Over in Russian Kovar was a point per game player over his five-year career. But the NHL is a very different beast. The ice is smaller and the competition is of a much higher quality.
Can he actually cut it in North America? We’ve seen what happened with Vadim Schipachyov in Vegas. Locking Kovar in as the second line center might be a bit premature. Kovar is playing for his NHL future. He’ll have the motivation to do well.
Then there’s Brock Nelson, can he step up as the team’s second line center? He’s been largely used down the middle for the Islanders, but his skill set might be better served on the wing.
Brock has something to prove in 2018-19. After having to settle for a single year contract extension from the Isles he’ll want to show them he’s worth a long-term deal.
Bottom Six Players
The Islanders have too many bottom-six players. With Andrew Ladd, Valtteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Ross Johnston, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, and Tom Kuhnhackl they have eight players for six spots.
Not to mention what happens with either Kovar or Nelson when one of them inevitably doesn’t get a center position. That’s nine players for six spots. The Isles could keep all of them and fit the 23-man roster limit. But there’s more.
Further complicating matters are the youth in the Islanders system. Kieffer Bellows and Josh Ho-Sang have a great shot at making the team straight out of camp this season. If one or both makes it that immediately puts another one of the aforementioned eight players spot on the roster in jeopardy.
They’ll all have to fight to earn a spot on the team in 2018-19. (Except for maybe a few, like Andrew Ladd and his monster contract).
Complicating things for that eight even further is the fact that the New York Islanders currently have six defensemen on the roster (according to CapFriendly).
Teams usually carry seven defensemen on the active 23-man roster. That puts yet another spot in jeopardy on the bottom six.
But it also means that there’s a spot up for grabs on the blueline for some of the Isles young players. Players like Devon Toews, David Quenneville, or Mitchell Vande Sompel.
Devon Toews is the easy choice for the last spot. And he’ll probably get it. Assuming that Lou Lamoriello doesn’t add a veteran defenseman later on in the offseason.
Even then, it just adds another name to the list of players battling for a roster spot.
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With a few positions still up for grabs going into the 2018-19 season the competition for spots will be intense. Lou is going to find out exactly what he has in the system this September.