Editorials

Islanders: Three Storylines As Training Camp Approaches

By Ryan Grosso
New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz (Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz (Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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New York Islanders
Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders will convene for their first day of training camp on Sunday. Here are three quick storylines as they prepare for the 2020-21 season.

Along with the 24 other teams who entered the NHL bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton for the 2019-20 return to play, the New York Islanders will open training camp on Sunday, January 3.

While the Islanders roster hasn’t undergone any major overhauls, there will be at least a couple of new faces in camp, and some jobs to be won. So, here are three storylines as training camp approaches.

1. The Third Line: Pageau’s Linemates

J.G. Pageau joined the Islanders in late February and appeared in seven games for the Isles before the Coronavirus pandemic shut the NHL regular-season down. In those seven regular-season games, Pageau appeared most-often with Josh Bailey and Michael Dal Colle at his wings.

The trio saw some limited success, but ultimately Pageau spent most of his time in the playoffs centering Derick Brassard and Leo Komarov on the Islanders third line.

Brassard has since departed Long Island. Signing a one-year, $1 million contract with the Arizona Coyotes on December 30.

Meanwhile, Komarov did not play game one of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. He got back in the Islanders lineup for game two, played a team-low 10:15 of ice-time in all situations, had a team-low CF% of 10.00 (-49.18 CF% Rel.) and was on the ice with Pageau and Andrew Ladd as the Lightning scored a final-minute goal to seal a 2-1 regulation win.

Uncle Leo still has two years left on his contract with an AAV of $3 million per season and a modified no-trade clause, according to Capfriendly. The deal has been among the most-maligned of Lou Lamoriello’s Islanders tenure.

Barry Trotz, known for running his four forward lines relatively equally, showed us in 2019-20 that he’d rather shorten his bench than give a number of his forwards crucial minutes, Komarov included.

So, the storyline here is simple: Who will be Pageau’s regular wingmen in 2020-21? Trotz has options, of course. We have yet to see what the Islanders full training camp roster will look like, but rookies Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, or Otto Koivula could factor in. There’s also Michael Dal Colle and Ross Johnston, who have more NHL experience, or Dmytro Timashov, the RFA who the Islanders acquired in a trade with Detroit but have yet to sign to a contract.

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