Afternoon Notes: Vanek Skating, Kabanov to Bridge

Earlier today, Thomas Vanek skated at the Coliseum. The good news is that he’s back on the ice but the bad news is that he didn’t skate with the team, which would imply that he still may need a few more days before getting back into games.

John Tavares also did not skate today, but that could be a rest day after he took a hard spill last night against Nashville (he did stay in and finish the game). Coach Capuano didn’t comment on whether either player would be available for Thursday. To read more of this story, click here

Video: 10-Year Old Ryan Strome Scores Five

It’s Friday, so here’s some frivolous video. This is from the 2003 Brick Youth Hockey Tournament that is held every year in Edmonton. Over the years, the tourney has featured some future NHL stars at a very young age.  This video from 2003 is of 10-year old Ryan Strome. Strome is  #16 in blue with yellow lettering, sort of a Nashville Predators theme going on there, and had a five-goal game in this particular instance. There’s also another future NHLer in the video; Strome’s defenseman #34 is Boston’s Dougie Hamiltion. (h/t to Dan Friedman for the find).

Islanders Recall Aaron Ness

Kevin Schultz

The Islanders have announced that Bridgeport defender Aaron Ness has been recalled for tonight’s game against Carolina. Ness has four points and is a -6 through nine games with the Sound Tigers this season.

Originally a second round pick of the Islanders in 2008, Ness was one of three second rounders the Isles had that year along with Corey Trivino and Travis Hamonic (boy, does that show how unpredictable the draft can be). Ness has spent the last three-plus seasons playing in Bridgeport, totaling 62 points in 167 games with the team. He was also called up to the Island during the 2011-12 season for a nine-game stint where he did not register a point.

It’s a little surprising that Ness has apparently jumped the depth chart over Calvin de Haan, the highly touted and oft-injured first round pick from the 2009 draft. De Haan has been running the point on the Sound Tigers powerplay — Ness has been on and off the first unit — and neither played has seriously stood out, to my eye at least. At this point, Ness is probably a bit better in his own zone while De Haan is better on the offensive side of the puck and has made a few defensive miscues (a blue line turnover that led to a goal in Hartford last week comes to mind). Maybe it’s simply a matter of who has a better chance of helping a blue line not struggling to score, but to defend.

There hasn’t been an announcement yet, but I would guess that Ness will play tonight for the Islanders.

Mikko Koskinen is Playing Well in Russia, But is He an Option?

Kevin Schultz

The Islanders have a lot of goaltenders but there doesn’t appear to be an obvious heir apparent to 37-year-old Evgeni Nabokov once his time as a starting netminder is over. The jury is still out on Kevin Poulin, who hasn’t had outstanding AHL numbers in recent years and has only been used in the NHL sparingly. Anders Nilsson is having a rough go after missing most of last year with injury, and the other Islanders draft picks and college signings (Parker Milner) are still far off, if they ever pan out. That’s left fans looking for any viable option and one that has come up recently is Mikko Koskinen, whom I’ve been asked about a lot lately as he puts up eye popping numbers in the KHL.

koskinenKoskinen has played well in Russia, where he reportedly signed a two-year deal this summer, leaving behind his native country of Finland. He has a .946 SVP to go along with a 1.62 GAA through 14 games thus far. Those numbers are good, but there’s a significant different between the KHL and the NHL.

There are actually 15 KHL goalies with +.930 SVP and some of the members of that group include ex-NHLers such as Michael Leighton, Mikael Tellqvist and Curtis Sanford. Koskinen’s numbers are better than all of theirs, but that’s not a very promising peer group to be a part of. The other thing is that the .946 SVP doesn’t mean he can put up that figure in the NHL. In contrast to those 15 KHL netminders, only seven NHL goalies have +.930 SVPs this season and the names on the list are a heck of a lot better than Leighton and company.

So before everyone piles on the Koskinen bandwagon, it’s hard to say that his numbers are NHL starting quality but they are absolutely promising as a reason to bring him back to North America and give him another look. But there’s another problem there.

To read more of this story, click here

On Bridgeport and Defensive Call Ups

Kevin Schultz

After Tuesday night’s loss at the Coliseum, Jack Capuano spent the majority of his short press conference naming concerns and shortcomings about his defensive corps.  Whether it was just an off-hand comment or a serious consideration — honestly it’s hard to tell which — Capuano mentioned that calling up a defender from Bridgeport was an option after it has become clear that the defensive six the Islanders have, less the injured Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, are not clicking.

“We’ll think about recalling a guy and putting them in the lineup, I don’t know.” Capuano told the assembled media. “The same mistakes can’t happen. We’ve only got six of them back there.”

So, if the Islanders do decide to dip into Bridgeport, who gets the call? To read more of this story, click here

Brock Nelson Loaned to Bridgeport

Forward Brock Nelson was loaned to Bridgeport by the Islanders tonight after being a healthy scratch all week. Nelson will play tomorrow afternoon when the Sound Tigers face off against Binghamton in Bridgeport. Their next game after tomorrow is next Saturday, so Nelson will likely be right back up with the big club following Sunday’s game. Nelson needs to play somewhere, so he may bounce back and forth a bit.  The team doesn’t seem keen to scratch a veteran in favor of Nelson but also likely doesn’t want him practicing with the Sound Tigers.

Photo: Ryan Pulock Sports Pink Jersey

The Isles 2013 first round pick, Ryan Pulock, is currently playing for Brandon of the WHL. On Saturday night, the Wheat Kings will ‘Pink the Rink’ by wearing pink jerseys that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Last night, the Wheat Kings came from behind to beat Moose Jaw. Pulock scored the tying goal with :16 left on the clock and his team would win it in overtime, 3-2.

Pulock’s goal is in this video around the 2:30 mark:

Shots Plentiful, But Bridgeport Can’t Make Them Count

Kevin Schultz

Across the Sound in Connecticut, the Sound Tigers lost both of their games over the weekend, just like the big club. Bridgeport scored only one goal over the course of two games and while the power play was dismal, they threw a ton of pucks at the net and came up empty thanks to some hot goaltending.

Five Thoughts:

  1. Anders Lee looks pretty good — as he should, I know — even doing a sort of Kabanov deke around a defender on Saturday night. It didn’t end up in the back of the net, though.
  2. Andrey Pedan had three points in two games last weekend but was a healthy scratch for both games this weekend. There doesn’t appear to be an explicit reason why, but if you read between the lines he may be getting his own discipline for being late. If you recall, Pedan was the other Sound Tiger late to practice the day Kabanov was late and consequently punted to Stockton. Here’s what Fornabaio had on Wednesday: “No Andrey Pedan this morning in practice; Pellerin said he was on “earlier this morning for some skill development and conditioning skate. He wasn’t feeling well after the skate. He’s going to come back for a workout. He’s going to be doing a little individual work with me this week.” For one reason or another, looks like he got singled out by the coach. On Twitter, Pedan had some frustration but without context it’s impossible to know if that’s about sitting out or because he left dinner on the stove too long. To read more of this story, click here

Kabanov’s Trip to Stockton a Message to Shape Up

Kevin Schultz

Prior to Tuesday night’s game, the Islanders announced that they had re-assigned Sound Tigers forward Kirill Kabanov to the team’s new ECHL affiliate, the Stockton Thunder.

For Kabanov, the trip across country to a lower rung of the minor leagues isn’t about getting more playing time or honing his skills for the most part. It’s a message to shape up for a player with promising talent that has to get some things in order.

Michael Fornabaio, the Sound Tigers beat writer for the CT Post, noted that Kabanov missed practice that morning for personal reasons and has been late to practice on multiple occasions:

They’re framing it as a hockey decision; get him more minutes, work on his game in both ends, and so forth, sing along, and playing on the third line, he probably could use some more time. His “personal-reasons” absence this morning suggested more, and a source said Kabanov was late for a meeting and it wasn’t the first time.

A Point Blank source seconded Fornabaio’s report that the move to Stockon was for disciplinary reasons.

Kabanov was originally a third round pick in 2010, touted to have first round talent. His draft stock slipped as he became well known for off-ice issues but the line dividing what were real issues and which ones were fabricated is still blurry.

To read more of this story, click here