The Morning Skate for August 5th

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

Last week we took a look at how the Islanders almost ended up with three defenders at Canada’s World Junior Training Camp: Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock and the injured Adam Pelech. The Islanders have another defender making an impact on the International hockey scene, and that’s Finland’s Ville Pokka.

Pokka was a second round pick in 2012 and stayed in Finland to play for Karpat this past season. He’s one of Finland’s best U-20 defenders, as he has been part of their top pairing in some recent exhibition games. Pokka scored the overtime game winner against the US in a scrimmage on Sunday in Lake Placid. He was paired up with Olli Maatta — Pittsburgh’s first round pick in 2012 — as Finland’s top unit.

If you’re keeping score, that’s three defenders the Islanders have playing important roles for their country plus an injured Adam Pelech, who otherwise would have been in the mix as well.

In Other Prospect News…

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Pelech Hurt, Still Two Isles Headed to Canada Camp

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

This August, Hockey Canada will be hosting its summer training camp, a tune up for the World Junior Championships that take place at the end of the calendar year. The Islanders will have “only” two defensive prospects at the camp after 2012 third round pick Adam Pelech pulled out due to a wrist injury.

For Pelech, this is the same injury that caused him to miss the Islanders prospect camp a few weeks ago and it’s the third time he’s injured his wrist. From the Erie Times-News, where Pelech plays in junior for the OHL’s Erie Otters:
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Summer Report Cards: Anders Lee

Throughout the next month plus, we’ll be reviewing the season that was and over-analyzing the various players that contributed to it. That’s what the offseason is for, after all. This post is part of a series. Read them all here.

leeAnders Lee — C — #27

1-1-2 in 2 games

Most often seen: not really all that much, actually

Contract status: signed through 2013-14, $900k salary in 2012-13 ($1.75M cap hit)

Obligatory YouTube video of: first NHL goal

Thoughts on 2012-13: It’s hard to really review Anders Lee, who played only two games for the Islanders last season — at point per game pace! — so instead of writing about his season and grading it, here are some general thoughts about Lee’s past year and future.

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Brenden Kichton and the “Low-Ball Offer”

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

A funny thing happens when a Canadian kid drafted in the fifth round doesn’t get offered a contract by a (until this past season) cellar-dweller team in New York; a few folks in the Canadian media decide go to bat for him. This is what has happened in the case of Brenden Kichton — who the Islanders selected in the 5th round in 2011 and who re-entered the draft this past June — and it’s bizarre.

Over the past week or so, the media has been telling Kichton’s story and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the summer, and he’s a fairly unique story. Kichton’s home-town paper had a level-headed article on his “unique situation.” The Winnipeg Sun, which has a reason to slant things towards the hometown Jets who selected Kichton this past June in the seventh round, called it “confusing” but didn’t take the gloves off.

But the most bizarre take is Yahoo’s Kelly Friesen not-so-impartially explaining that not signing Kichton is just another bad decision by the Islanders:

It’s not that surprising to see the Islanders make a puzzling move. Their GM did, after all, offer all of his draft picks in 2012 to move up two spots to the second pick… Snow rushed Nino Niederreiter…He later traded Niederreiter, who he drafted over Carolina Hurricanes star Jeff Skinner, to the Minnesota Wild for 25-year-old Cal Clutterbuck, who scored 10 points this year, and a third-round pick.

Usually, you’re not supposed take up your subject’s cause when attempting to write objectively but I guess that was thrown out the window in this case. Friesen doubled down on his Kichton hype on Twitter, responding to a comment about Kichton being passed up until the seventh round by saying it was “kind of like Henrik Lundqvist and Henrik Zetterberg.” If only we all had such clear foresight.

And then Slam! Sports got in on the act the other day:

Kichton was given a low-ball offer by the organization that year and didn’t receive another this June

Let’s clear up how this all seems to have gone down.

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Islanders Re-Sign Brett Gallant

The Islanders have re-signed restricted free agent forward Brett Gallant to a one-year, two-way deal, the team has confirmed to Point Blank.

According to CapGeek.com, Gallant gets a pay raise in the AHL of $75,000 up from $65,000 last year. If he plays in the NHL, the deal is valued at $550,000 down from $610,000 although he has yet to play in an NHL game.

Last season with the Sound Tigers, Gallant played the tough guy role racking up 202 penalty minutes in 42 games. He did not record a point. According to HockeyFights.com, Gallant had 26 fights in the AHL last season.

How Many Opening Night Roster Spots are Available for Islanders Prospects?

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders have a lot of prospects looking to grab a spot on the NHL roster this season. They all talked about it at prospect camp last week, and for a couple, they’ve toiled in Bridgeport literally for years.

From the last four drafts the Islanders have only had one player from those drafts suit up in a regular season NHL game and he was traded a few weeks ago. It certainly seems like it’s about time for some of the younger players to step up and make an impact. But to do that, there has to be some available roster space. Chances are that by the end of the season we’ll see at least a few of them play with the big club, but realistically, how many can we expect to be on the roster opening night?

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume that a prospect won’t bump an NHL vet completely off the roster, as the Islanders have been reluctant to waive NHL veterans over the past couple years (case in point; Marty Reasoner). We’ll also assume that the team will carry two goalies as opposed to three.

There are 13 forwards who we’ll call “NHL veterans” under contract right now. Only one of these players can be optioned to Bridgeport without having to pass waivers (Casey Cizikas). Here’s how the lineup looks (just spitballing lines here, nothing scientific):

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The Morning Skate: Prospect Interviews and Notes

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

One of the things that happens during a week of prospect mini-camp, especially in the middle of the summer when nothing else is happening, is that every player gets inspected with a fine-tooth comb. For example, some folks were very quick to point out some of the prospects that weren’t at camp last week. Adam Pelech wasn’t there, due to a broken wrist. Ville Pokka wasn’t there either, but it might have been due to Finnish military commitments (in Finland everyone needs to serve between 6-12 months in the military after their 18th birthday).

For the prospects that were there, they were interviewed and inspected very thoroughly. Here are some of those interviews: To read more of this story, click here

GAME DAY — Prospect Scrimmage, 7pm

Orange and Blue Scrimmage, 7:00pm ET
Nassau Coliseum — Uniondale, NY — IslesTVislesbar

The Islanders prospects face off tonight at the Coliseum after a week of mini-camp. It’s not a traditional game day but hey, it’s about as good as we’ll get until at least September. It’s also a great chance to see a lot of the new draft picks and other players you wouldn’t normally see on Coliseum ice. It ends with a skills competition and shootout, which is fun especially because no one can complain about its impact on the standings.

Here’s the quick info that you need to know for tonight. It’s $10 to get in, $10 to park and if you can’t make it out to the Coliseum, the game will be streamed live and free on the Islanders website.

While we’re at it, here are some links to catch you up on some of the prospects:

The Islanders Might Make Ryan Strome a Winger

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

It’s been talked about by fans probably since he was drafted but now the fantasy coaching may become reality; the Islanders are considering moving Ryan Strome to the wing.

It shows how far the organization’s depth has come, that a center selected with the #5 overall pick in 2011 may actually be moved away from his natural position. With John Tavares slotted in the number one center slot for the forseeable future and Frans Nielsen, Peter Regin, Casey Cizikas already on the roster plus Brock Nelson and Johan Sundstrom expected to make a push at training camp, the Islanders are chock full of centers. The team even has one success story of moving from center to wing on it, as Josh Bailey has excelled on the wing while he looked lost at center.

Over at NHL.com, Brian Compton has an excellent writeup on Strome that you really should read. It includes this quote, where Strome acknowledges that he’s been alerted to be ready for the wing, which he was already doing in Bridgeport last season (he played on Brock Nelson’s wing on the top line):

“They asked me if I’m comfortable at both [wing and center],” Strome said. “I played 8-10 games at Bridgeport on the wing, and that definitely makes you comfortable. I think I can feel comfortable at each position, which is good. I think the more versatile you are, the more useful you can be.”

Capuano said he’s considering moving Strome to the wing.

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VIDEO — This is a Barehanded Save from 4th Rounder Stephon Williams

In Sunday’s draft, the Islanders selected three players who have played for Waterloo of the USHL. One was fourth rounder Stephon Williams, 106th overall, who played at Waterloo in 2011-12 and then headed to Minnesota State University last fall. He only spent 19 games in Waterloo, but Williams still managed to make this highlight reel save in this time there. He stops a shot from point blank, which is neat in itself, but does it with his bare hand. Ouch.