Training camp notebook: Nelson unfazed by top line chatter


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Uniondale, N.Y. — Brock Nelson is aware that his name has been thrown around as a candidate for a spot on the Islanders top line, but the second year forward isn’t harping on all the talk.

“I think you just have to go out there and wherever you’re put you have to go out there and play,” Nelson said. “You know have fun with it and kind of embrace your role. Whether it switches everyday or whether you’re in the same spot on the wing or the center. It doesn’t really matter. Just go out there play to the best of your abilities and continue to work and get better.”

The 22-year-old Islander had a strong 2013-14 season and took a lot away from his first full season in the NHL.

“On the ice, off the ice whatever I could I just tried to take as much away from it as I could,” he explained. I think going into this summer it helped me know what to expect and kind of reevaluate where I was, and know what I needed to work on. I think this summer was a good summer for me. Another step in the right direction.”

Nelson said he worked on his quickness and shooting during the offseason, as well as adding some size and strength. The Minnesota native has been skating on a line with Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas during the fist couple of days of training camp on Long Island.

Josh Bailey knows he struggled last season. The former first round draft pick recorded only eight goals in 77 appearances last season.

Bailey, who is signed to a five year, $16.5 million contract, also went long stretches of the season without scoring. However, Bailey is putting that behind him heading into this season.

“To be honest I’m tired of hearing about the up and down stuff about last year,” Bailey said. “No matter what happens the year before — good or bad — You try to get better and look forward. And that’s been my mind set all summer.”

Bailey said he did work on his shooting during the offseason. “I tried to tweak some things with my stick and be more of a shooter out there, and worked on my shot a lot. Hopefully it pays off,” he said.

Halak, Johnson acclimating to new teammates


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Uniondale, N.Y. — Goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson knew what they were getting into when they signed on to play on Long Island.

Islander goaltending has had its’ struggles in the past and it is a position that needs to be strong since the team’s defense is relatively young. Halak knows that Johnson and himself will need to be good this year.

“I would say you need two good goalies,” he said. “They need to push each other in practices and in games. That will only make them better. When the guys see that then it’s going to just rub off on them and then we’ll get better as a group.”

Johnson also understands that for his new team to be successful both goaltenders will need to be on top of their game.

“I think for me and Halak we just want to come in and be sort of the backbone here. Try and just help this team be better then they were last year,” Johnson said. “That all our focus is on, at least mine is. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, for me it’s about just winning hockey games and doing what you can as a goalie to help the team win… So for us we’re just trying to come in and really be steady and confident in there for the guys.” To read more of this story, click here

Training camp updates: Day 2


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

5:45: Group A wrapped up today’s practice at the Coliseum.

It was interesting to see veteran Kyle Okposo skating with Ryan Strome and Michael Dal Colle. Jaroslav Halak also trotted out his new mask for the upcoming year, so that was cool. One thing that was noticeable in group A, along with the rest of the players at camp, is the speed they have. Cory Conacher was a player whose speed stood out to me earlier, but as Tony Stabile of Hockey This Week pointed out most of the players are speedsters.

Travis Hamonic, who did not play where he wanted to last season, looked very focused on day two. It was easy to tell he wants to have better season this year.

Expect several stories later on today on goaltending, Travis Hamonic and a notebook round up of the first two days.


Tavares1:44: Group C was the second unit to take the ice today at the Coliseum.

The group was highlighted by John Tavares, Josh Ho-Sang, Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, TJ Brennan, Calvin de Haan, and Brian Strait. Much like the previous group, the coaches put the players through an intense on-ice workout.

Just in case you weren’t already aware, John Tavares is fully healthy and looks like his old self. The Islander captain said that his injury is behind him. “I’m just trying to get my rhythm back, get my timing back and get a lot of things I worked on this summer to translate on the ice,” he said.

Also easily noticeable was the skill possessed by Ho-Sang. The prospect put his speed and puck handling on display on the ice during his session. He likely won’t make the team, but he continues to show the coaches he will be a player to watch going forward.

The final group of the day (group A) takes the ice momentarily.



Uniondale, N.Y. — Day two of camp kicked off with another early morning skate. This time it was group B that practiced first.

The line combinations and defensive pairings were the same as Day one, so nothing new to report on that front. Islander Coach Jack Capuano ran another fast paced practice as prior day. This camp has been pretty tough, I would say tougher than some camps in prior years.

Right now, there is nothing major to note from their spin on the ice. One stand out moment did occur during drills when Andrey Pedan prevented Cory Conacher from blowing by him — pretty hard. Conacher’s speed has been something that is very apparent after two days of camp.

More to come later.

Grabovski and Kulemin reunited again

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Uniondale, N.Y. – New Islander forward Mikhail Grabovski may have had the quote of the quote of the day following the first day of on-ice workouts.

“I really didn’t know much before, but I know they’ve won more Stanley Cups than Washington,” he said when asked if he knew much about the Islanders’ history. The comment received a collective chuckle from the fanbase, who are getting to know one of organization’s newest members.

Of course, you can’t discuss Grabovski without mentioning Nikolay Kulemin. They are, of course, a package deal.

Grabovski and Kulemin are reuniting on Long Island for the first time since the duo played together with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2008-2013. They had their best year together in 2010-2011 when Grabovski recorded 58 points (29 goals, 28 assists) and Kulemin put up 57 points (30 goals, 27 points). The Islanders are hoping that the magic can be recaptured on Long Island this season.

Kulemin and Grabovski have a few things going for them, a big thing being that they’re so familiar with one another.

“I know usually where Kuli goes,” Grabovski said. “so it’s easy for me to understand him.”

To read more of this story, click here

Baumbach: More papers filed in Wang/Barroway case

Newsday reporter Jim Baumbach had updates on the lawsuit between Andrew Barroway and Charles Wang.

In the letters, provided by Wang, he claims there is no evidence that there was a completed deal (Baumbach, Sept. 19). The letter also hints that the deal was for $450 million, with Wang being paid $291 million and Barroway assuming $159 million in debt (Baumbach, Sept. 19).

Wang wants the lawsuit to take place in Nassau County, while Barroway wants it to be in Manhattan (IPB, Aug. 27).

For the full report from Baumbach’s Twitter account, see below:

To read more of this story, click here

Training camp updates: Day 1

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

4:04: The last of the training camp updates for today, group C was the final assortment of players to hit the ice.

Some observations, via twitter, of how group C players looked:

And here is the line combinations, courtesy of the Islanders:

12:56: Another group hit the ice, this time group B.

It was another tough skate for the players. Capuano and the coaching staff put the players through the same routine as group A. One thing that was noticeable was the speed on Cory Conacher. Below are the line combinations from group B:

Michael Grabner-Frans Nielsen-Cory Conacher
Brock Nelson-Casey Cizikas-Josh Bailey
Brett Gallant- Lukas Sutter-CJ Stretch
Justin Courtnall-Victor Crus-Rydberg- Ross Johnston

Group C will hit the ice at 2 p.m.

Uniondale, N.Y. –The Islanders finally hit the ice for the first time of the 2014-15 campaign. It’s also the last, first skate of training camp ever at the Nassau Coliseum… Variations of that phrase will be used a lot this season.

Jack Capuano and the Islanders coaching staff put the first group (A) through a tough workout. Nikolay Kulemin called today’s practice “an intense” one. (On a side note: several people noted that Kulemin’s named was spelled differently than how it has been seen in the past. I was told by an Islanders PR person the spelling of his first name has been changed.)

The players looked good on the ice. You can already tell these guys know they’ll be fighting for spots. Below are the lines that skated for Group A, courtesy of Arthur Staple. I would not look too much into these at the moment:

  • Michael Dal-Colle-Ryan Strome-Kyle Okposos
  • Nikolay Kulemin-Mikhail Grabovski-Jack Skille
  • John Persson-Alan Quine-Colin McDonald
  • Eric-Boulton-Chris Langkow-Mike Halmo