Recapping day one of NY Islanders rookie camp

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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After an off-season of discussing extensions and saying goodbye to a 15-year veteran of the NY Islanders, we finally have some action on the ice. After going through their physicals yesterday, players and prospects on their ELC hit the ice today for the first day of rookie camp.

Bridgeport Islanders Head Coach Rick Kowalsky, named bench boss on July 13, led the group on day one. He was joined by former Islanders Johnny Boychuck and Dennis Seidenberg as the players were put through drills, acclimating themselves to camp.

“It was fun," said Kowalsky on his first day of camp. "I’m excited to be back and be a head coach, and running practice, and organizing it, and going through it with the staff. So yeah, I'm pumped to get going. It’s kind of nice to, the build-up to day one and now we’ll get into a bit of a rhythm. But it was exciting and a lot of fun.”

Kowalsky will lead camp until the rookies integrate with the NHL regualars and Lane Lambert takes over the reigns.

Here are some takeawyas from day one of Islanders rookie camp:

No current NCAA players attending

For those excited to see Danny Nelson, the Islanders top draft pick in 2023, you'll have to make the trip to South Bend, Indiana, if you want to see him, as he's currently at Notre Dame preparing for his freshman season in the NCAA. Also absent from camp are 2023 sixth-round pick Zachary Schulz and 2022 third-round pick Quinn Finley, both attending the University of Wisconsin and Alex Jefferies, entering his fourth season at Merrimack College.

Maggio fighting for an opening night roster spot

Coming off a season where he was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy as the MVP of the OHL, 20-year-old Matthew Maggio has some expectations as he enters his second training camp.

Spending the summer improving his game, Maggio says he put on ten pounds during the summer to prepare for the rigors of professional hockey. He made his way to Long Island a week before camp started, living with Noah Dobson and skating and familiarizing himself with the team. But he's not just preparing for a season down in Bridgeport. His eyes are set on being on the ice during the Islanders season opener against the Buffalo Sabres on October 14.

"I’d be lying to you guys if I said I didn’t have my eyes on a roseter spot," said Maggio after day one. "Even if that doesn’t happen, that’s going to be OK - but I think I’m going to be here every day just trying to do as much as I can as a player to just push for a spot here. That's my goal here. Is to do everything to be on that opening night roster and even if that doesn’t happen, that's OK. I’m going to just put myself in a position to make an impression where I want them to make a tough choice."

Kuffeler present but not participating/Tikkanen joins camp

Selected in the sixth round in 2022, Daylan Kuefler is attending rookie camp but not participating as he rehabs an injury sustained in the WHL Playoffs with the Kamloops Blazers. Kuefler average over a point per game in his final WHL season, finishing with 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 54 games.

Henrik Takkanen was a seventh-round pick of the Islanders in 2020 who signed with the Islanders before last season after not initially signing his ELC. Takkanen played last year with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL, posting a .914 Sv% while finishing with a 3.02 GAA. Takkanen stands 6'8" and brings the height of the modern goalie to a whole new level.

Dufour looking to take the next step in his development

As the only player with any NHL experience aside from Simon Hölmstrom, William Dufour is looking to make a big splash at camp before the season begins.

Entering his second season as a professional, Dufour will look to take his game to the next level after a successful rookie campaign in Bridgeport.

“I think theres room for improvement even though he had a pretty good year in the American League," said Kowalsky on Dufour. "It is a day one but no, I was impressed. He looks a little leaner and hopefully stronger."

There may not be much to it, but Dufour was selected among all participants to lead the team post-practice stretches.

Hölmstrom taking on a leadership role

Simon Hölmstrom spent 50 games with the Islanders last season, yet finds himself at rookie camp only because he's on his ELC. He isn't surrounded by players with much (or any) NHL experience, as he's the only player who knows what it takes to make it at the highest level. Hölmstrom may find himself on the bubble come time to trim the roster, needing an assertive camp to force the Islanders into making a difficult decision.

“It’s tough. It was a tough first day as always, but it’s really good to be back," said Hölmstrom on his first day of camp and taking on a mentorship role. "I’m just glad to be here and maybe help out some of the younger guys."

Hölmstrom says he spent most of his summer working on conditioning, watching film, and working on his goal-scoring skills.