The NY Islanders knew that after a season of rolling out Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene on a nightly basis, they were going to need to upgrade their blue line for the 2022-23 season. They did just that when they acquired defenseman Alexander Romanov who looks like he's going to be partnered with Noah Dobson for the upcoming season and foreseeable future. What the Islanders didn't do is make an additional move for the third pair to Scott Mayfield's left. GM Lou Lamoriello made it known he wanted that spot to be filled internally, and Robin Salo is separating himself from the other candidates thus far.
There are two spots up for grabs on the Islanders blue line and Salo, as well as Sebastian Aho, Dennis Cholowski, and Grant Hutton are all competing to claim one. Since the start of training camp, Salo has been paired with Mayfield, who you can write into the lineup with pen, seemingly working together as the Islanders third pair.
Last night, the Islanders took on the New York Rangers in their first preseason game. Although they didn't get the result that they wanted, Salo was one of the few players who stood out in a positive way for the Islanders. Down 4-0 late in the second period, Salo floated a puck on net with traffic in front and it foud it's way behind Dylan Garand, the only goal the Islanders scored on Monday night.
"I didn't really see it. I just tried to get it through the first guy. It wasn't really a hard shot but we had some guys in front."- Robin Salo
Salo took a team-high five shots on net last night and also quarterbacked the second unit power play. Turning 24 years old on opening night, Salo knows theres a good chance he'll be celebrating his birthday at UBS Arena taking on the Florida Panthers.
"I mean, I know it's a good chance but I try not to think about it too much. All I can do is play my best game."- Robin Salo
It's early in the preseason, but so far so good regarding Salo. The puck-moving defenseman is likely the best fit next to a stay-at-home defensive defenseman like Mayfield. The Islanders have aspirations of having a younger, more mobile blue line this season, and with Romanov already in the mix, Salo claiming an everyday role makes the Islanders that much more mobile from the backend and he knows what he has to do to stick around.
"I'm just trying to focus on my game and do what I can help the team out. Play to my own strengths just get pucks through to support the offense and just stay active."- Robin Salo