Islanders: Key Takeaways from the Opening Day of Training Camp
By Ryan Grosso
The New York Islanders opened training camp on Sunday with media availabilities from Barry Trotz and several players, including captain Anders Lee.
The New York Islanders opened training camp on Sunday with a round of media availabilities via Zoom calls. Among the group who met with the media was head coach Barry Trotz, Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Scott Mayfield, and others.
The Islanders coach and players touched on a pretty wide range of different topics, but here are a few key takeaways from the camp’s opening day.
On Mathew Barzal’s Contract Negotiations
Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Anthony Beauvillier spoke a little on the situation surrounding Mathew Barzal’s contract negotiations.
All three spoke of their confidence that a deal is soon to come. Beauvillier, in particular, noted that he has spoken to Barzal at least once daily and he had no doubt something would be done soon.
Lee, entering his third season as the team captain, added that the Islanders and Barzal would work something out, and the team was not worried about the fate of their top-line center.
Eberle stated that he knows Barzal loves being an Islander.
When asked how Barzal’s absence from training camp affected the overall picture, Barry Trotz said it did not complicate anything. He added that the Islanders would worry about who they can put on the ice.
On the Health of Key Players
Lou Lamoriello gave updates on the status of Adam Pelech and Casey Cizikas’s health on New Year’s Eve, stating both are fully recovered from the injuries that sidelined them late into the Islanders playoff run. Both players fielded questions today about how they’re feeling coming off a short offseason and reaffirmed Lou’s message that they are fit and ready to begin training for the new season.
Pelech, who fractured his wrist in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, noted that he feels “healthy, ready to go.”
Casey Cizikas, who joined the Zoom call holding his infant daughter, told the media that following a hit in the 2019-20 playoffs he felt the vision in his left eye had gone blurry. The injury was a detached retina, though Cizikas stated plainly that he felt comfortable and confident on the ice now.
The Islanders will have to hope the injury bug stays away from both players, as injuries to Cizikas and Pelech in the 2019-20 regular season began a downward spiral that saw the team slide in the standings after the new year.
On Players who are New to the Team
Jean-Gabriel Pageau isn’t exactly new to the Islanders, but the resounding talking point heard from many members of the team is that his presence for a full season is going to make a big difference for the Blue and Orange. Anders Lee said the Islanders’ 2020 playoff run would not have been possible without “Pager”.
Another new addition to the Islanders roster is goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who also had praise heaped upon him by his teammates, and by the coach.
Barry Trotz said the player is a “terrific” person, with an “unbelievable work ethic”. Trotz capped the glowing review of his new goalie with a vote of confidence, stating he thinks the Russian is “up for the challenge.”
Islanders forward Jordan Eberle commented on what he has seen of Sorokin on the ice thus far. “He’s making some big saves, some quick saves.” Semyon Varlamov, who has been training with Sorokin for the last couple of weeks, stated that he thinks his younger colleague is “definitely able” to establish himself in the NHL this season.
Barry Trotz also commented on the Islanders prospects Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom, saying that he hopes they continue to grow and put pressure on his group to compete for regular minutes.
Barry Trotz opened the press conference and was actually pretty vocal for his usually subdued standards. He spoke on the closeness of this Islanders team, a recurring storyline we’ve heard since the Islanders playoff run this summer, and stated that he believed that would set them apart from much of their competition.
Speaking on his team’s playoff exit following their game six loss to the Lightning, Barry Trotz said that he still hasn’t gotten over the Islanders losing that series.
Whether veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk goes on long-term injured reserve or retires has not yet officially been determined by the Islanders. Boychuk’s teammates heaped praise on Boychuk the human, the hockey player, and the leader. They also said he has been around the team recently, even despite his unofficial retirement.
Unlike many other teams, the Islanders will not release an official training camp roster today. That news coming from The Athletic’s Arthur Staple around 3 p.m.
There was no on-ice work today for Islanders players, only tests, but the team will take the ice tomorrow starting at 9:45 a.m., according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker.