NY Islanders Daily Dose: Rookie Camp Opens; A Door Opens for Josh Bailey

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
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Good Morning, Islanders Country.

We’re now within a month before the start of the regular season, which means rookies are wearing practice jerseys, you’re facing a must-win week 2 in fantasy football and NHL players, including captain Anders Lee are in Las Vegas filming marketing videos and being interviewed by the well-rested hockey media.

But back on Long Island, real, unrehearsed hockey action happened with the start of rookie camp. Fans are often accused of overhyping their own prospects. When it comes to the Islanders, over-hyping would mean thinking that the team’s pool of young talent is middle of the road. Across almost every ranking of prospects, the Islanders are in the bottom third of the league, if not inside the bottom two or three.

But I have to tell you, I’m pretty excited about this group.

The Islanders haven’t had a first-round pick in four drafts. That undeniably dries out a team’s pipeline, but when you watch William DufourRuslan Iskhakov, and Matthew Maggio (more on him later), it’s clear there’s talent here, and we shouldn’t necessarily lower expectations because certain publications say so.

ON THE FLY

📰 NEWS: The Islanders opened up their rookie camp with a 20-player roster made up of 17 forward/defensemen and three goaltenders. The group was headlined by William Dufour, OHL Player of the Year Matthew Maggio, and AHL All-Star Ruslan Iskhakov. Also with the forward group was Simon Holmstrom, who made his NHL debut last season and played in 50 games last season. Holmstrom remains on his rookie contract.

On the blueline, Isaiah George, a day after inking a three-year ELC, was on the ice, as was 2022 second-round pick Calle Odelius. NCAA signings Aidan Fulp and Travis Mitchell are part of that group as well. Plus, goaltender Tristan Lennox is in camp and will get a chance in the Bridgeport rotation this year

Want to feel old or just older?

Of the 20 participants, only five were born in the 20th century!

MAGGIO EYEING A SPOT

2023 5th round pick Matthew Maggio has reason to be confident.

After all, he was named the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) Most Outstanding Player last season after scoring 54 goals and registering 111 points in 66 games, which led the OHL. "I'm gonna try to put myself in a place to make an impression where I want them to make a tough choice.”

Despite that success in juniors and holding his own in three AHL games in Bridgeport, no one is expecting the 20-year-old to push for a spot on the Islanders roster - except himself.

"There's a lot of great players, and it's a great team that you want to make. I'd be lying to you guys if I said I don't have my eyes on a roster spot, Maggio said after the first day of rookie camp on Thursday. " Even if that doesn't happen, that's going to be ok, but I think I'm gonna be here every day, trying to do as much as I can as a player to push for a spot here."

OVERTIME

Bailey signs PTO contract with Senators

When Josh Bailey penned his goodbye to New York Islanders fans in  on Wednesday, it served as closure for the 15-year veteran and also a sign that he was ready to move on. On Thursday, it was announced that the Ottawa Senators have signed the forward to a professional tryout (PTO) contract. Sens head coach DJ Smith was an assistant coach with Windsor when Bailey played in juniors, and former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is an Ottawa assistant.

Bailey was traded by the Islanders before the second round of the 2023 NHL Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2026 second round back in June. GM Lou Lamoriello needed financial relief to sign his own unrestricted free agents on July 1, and there was no longer a defined role for Bailey on the roster after 1,057 games on Long Island, the third most in franchise history.

Best of luck, Josh!

📚 SOUND SMARTJohnny Boychuk, who was on the ice working with the rookies on Thursday, returned to the Islanders lineup for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020 for the first time since Aug. 1st. That night, the Islanders dressed seven defenseman in a playoff game for the first time since April 14, 1987, Game 5 vs. the Washington Capitals.

🎥: ISLES REWIND: On September 15, 2020, Jordan Eberle scored in double-OT of the Eastern Conference Finals as the Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 to force Game 6. Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves in the win, but his performance is most remembered for this epic celebratory slide.

ASSISTS

📺 Locked on Islanders Podcast: The New York Islanders have opened rookie camp. We break down the 20 players in attendance and discuss which ones have the most to prove before the veterans arrive. Plus 2022 draft pick Isaiah George signed an entry-level deal with the team before camp got started

🔗  Simon Holmstrom, William Dufour most likely prospects to earn an Islanders roster spot  “The path from development camp participant to making the NHL roster is usually an unlikely one. Typically, there’s a side trip to the AHL or a ticket back to junior hockey. But forwards Simon Holmstrom and William Dufour have both already dressed for the Islanders.”

🔗 Motivated Matthew Maggio Makes Bold Statement to Islanders by Stefen Rosner, The Hockey News“While Maggio thought Bridgeport would be the spot for him after being part of the last set of cuts, the organization decided that heading back to juniors for one more season was the best thing for his development.”

And we leave you with this…Cal Clutterbuck is known as a hitter on the ice, but we pitching (close to) the Citi Field mound this week, throwing out the first pitch at New York Mets hockey night alongside the Rangers Jimmy Vesey and the Devils Erik Haula.

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