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Islanders: Five big questions going into training camp

Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New York Islanders training camp opens today, what are five pressing questions facing the team?

New York Islanders hockey is back. After four months of waiting, NHL hockey returns with the opening of training camps.

Leading into camp, Barry Trotz was asked what the biggest challenge would be for him and his team. His answer was getting everyone “up to speed” after the long break as well as the general physical and mental fitness of his players.

Both are great answers. As we head towards training camp what are some other questions that will need answering?

The Team

The biggest question is who will make the team for camp. We know that teams can have up to 30 players and any number of goalies at camp.

Who’s going to make the list for the New York Islanders? It’s not like the Islanders have to make a ton of additions. They already have 26 players on the roster so that leaves another four names they could add to their list.

Forwards (17)

Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Anthony Beauvillier, Derick Brassard, Ross Johnston, Mathew Barzal, Tom Kuhnhackl, Otto Koivula, Michael Dal Colle

Defensemen (9)

Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Andy Greene, Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, Noah Dobson, Devon Toews

Who from Bridgeport will make the training camp squad? Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Sebastian Aho have a good case to be included in the training camp squad.

Barry Trotz doesn’t like to run big camps so perhaps the Islanders don’t bring the full 30 skaters they’re allowed to. Arizona, for example, only has 28 skaters listed.

Starting Goalie

Trotz indicated that he’ll let training camp decide who will be the starting goalie for the qualifying round. Both Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss have similar records this season.

Both have been great against the Panthers this season too. Varlamov is 1-0-0 with a 1.86 GAA and 0.946SV% while Greiss carries a 2-0-0 record and a 1.00 GAA and 0.972SV%.

Varlamov was relied on more by Trotz before the season was suspended while Greiss was a major factor in the Islanders 2016 first-round win over the Panthers. Both have a case for being the starter. Who Trotz chooses will be interesting.

Power Play

The Islanders special teams were woeful this season. Specifically the power play. With a 17.3 percent efficiency, it was better than it was in 2018-19 where the Islanders held the third-worst power play efficiency in the league at 14.5 percent. It can be so much better.

Finding a way to get Anders Lee the puck in the slot is perhaps the first place to start. Lee just isn’t seeing enough of the puck on the power play. He’s one of the best net-front players in the league and he’s being under-utilized in that role.

Trotz and special teams coach Jim Hiller need to find a way to get that power play clicking like we know it can.

Lines

How will Trotz pair up players coming out of the break? Will he opt for maximum familiarity and just keep guys with who they’re used to playing with, or will he create lines based on lineup efficiencies?

Will Josh Bailey get on a line with Anders Lee to maximize their chemistry? What about the on-ice chemistry between Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier? Or maybe Trotz goes to a lineup that worked well during the Isles 17-game point streak where he reunites Beauvillier-Nelson-Brassard on the second line?

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Makes the Cut

The Islanders can’t bring all 30 skaters with them from training camp to Toronto. That list has to be widdled down to 28 skaters before traveling to the hub city.

Who doesn’t make the cut will be interesting. We shouldn’t expect any surprises with the New York Islanders roster, but will Bellows and Wahlstrom come along for the ride as part of the taxi squad? Or will Aho shadow the team to Toronto instead of one of those forwards?

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