New York Islanders prospect 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.
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."
"I'm gonna try to put myself in a place to make an impression where I want them to make a tough choice," he added.
This isn't Maggio's first camp; it's actually his third. After going undrafted in 2021, he participated in Washington Capitals camp and then was with the Islanders after being selected in the fifth-round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
That experience helped the game slow down for Maggio and contributed to his success last season with Windsor Spitfires, where he also served as team captain. "I had a great support staff in Windsor. I had a coach who had full confidence in me and some great linemates ... I was pushing myself every day to continually get better and I wasn't satisfied ever."
Maggio comes across as mature beyond his years and focused on maximizing his potential. As a captain at the junior level, he's already taking on that role amongst the first-timers in Islanders camp. "I know I'm still young, but I'm here to be a leader," said Maggio. "Helping out the younger guys who are here for their first time and make them feel comfortable."
Maggio entered the off-season with a clear game plan of how to improve his game ahead of his first full professional season. As good as his release is, he worked on his shot to beat NHL-caliber goaltenders and focused on adding strength as he transitions from playing against boys to competing against men.
"Going back in the summer, working on things I needed to work on, need to be more physical, need to be stronger on pucks, I put on 10 pounds ... I'm feeling really good about my game right now."