12:30 pm: “Hey mister, wanna play in an NHL exhibition game”?
Add another to the list of training camp tryouts: former Ranger Jed Ortmeyer, an honest and relentless forward with fourth-line ability.
10:35 am: Maybe the sun didn’t come up over Nassau County today, but the Islanders went back to work for their first practice since losing top defenseman and leader Mark Streit for what is expected to be most of the season.
The first of two groups was on the Coliseum ice at 8:00 am because the Islanders have a scheduled charity golf outing later today. Figure on the two groups forming the framework of the lineups in action for Wednesday’s split-squad games in Saskatoon (vs. Calgary) and in Philadelphia.
Comeau – Tavares – Parenteau
Bailey – Schremp – Niederreiter
Martin – Ullstrom – Hunter
Gillies – Konopka – Rakhshani
MacDonald – Martinek
Eaton – Wisniewski
de Haan – Jurcina
Moulson – Kolanos – Hilbert
DiBenedetto – Hisey – Sim
Haley – Romano – Joensuu
Marcinko – Yablonski
Hillen – Gervais
Reese – Kohn
Klementyev – Katic
How the Wiz Got His Chance
James Wisniewski could not believe his eyes. He knew Mark Streit played in every game last season and led the team in icetime. His new teammates told him Streit was so tough, he never went off the ice to see a trainer until the pain was severe. So when Wisniewski saw Streit crash into the boards during the scrimmage on Saturday, he thought, “Maybe he was taking a dive to get a 5-on-3 in a Blue and White scrimmage.” The dark humor came in handy today as the Islanders move on without their No. 1 defeneman.
Wisniewski had an important lesson to share. As a prospect with the Chicago Blackhawks, he got his first real NHL opportunity when Adrian Aucoin suffered a major groin injury that sidelined the former Islanders defenseman for eight weeks. Wisniewski has been in the league ever since.
“I’m sure some of the young guys are licking their chops right now,” said Wisniewski, knowing Streit’s loss could mean more icetime for young defenseman like Andrew MacDonald and Jack Hillen, and perhaps an NHL opportunity for Calvin de Haan.
Wisniewski did not sugar-coat the Streit news. “You don’t replace a guy like that,” he said. As for his own role, the new Islander said, “I have to step up and help the team the best I can.”
de Haan Knows the Pain, and the Opportunity
“I would never wish that injury on a teammate or anyone else,” said Calvin de Haan, who had his shoulder torn up in a junior game last season and spent the next six months rehabilitating it. “It’s painful. It’s not fun. The first month when you’re in the sling…it just sucks.”
The prospect defenseman made it clear he would never want a door opened for him this way, but it has. In today’s practice, the 19-year-old de Haan spent a lot of time playing the point of the power play.
“I feel like I have more of an opportunity now,” he said. “Betweeen me and (Travis) Hamonic, one of us could get a shot.”
de Haan, who pronounced himself “comfortable at the top of the umbrella” on the power play, said he won’t put any more pressure on himself in the upcoming exhibition games. He’ll likely play in the maximum three on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
“I’m going to treat them like just another hockey game,” he said. “I’ve played thousands of them.”
Still, he knows what’s ahead of him. “I want to play here so bad,” said de Haan. He meant this season.
Notes: No, the Islanders are not going to add more than $10 million in salary over the next two years for Sheldon Souray, an excellent power play gunslinger who should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Streit when talking about 30-minute, all-zone defensemen. Picking up Souray’s tab makes little sense, and the still-rebuilding Islanders know that. Consider it a longshot that the Islanders make a claim even if the Oilers place Souray on re-entry waivers. If Souray was on the final year of his contract, maybe. But he’s not, so…Next!
Wade Redden…uh, no – not if you’ve seen him play the last four seasons, not at more than $6 million a year. Next!
In an interview with Katie Strang of Newsday, GM Garth Snow called the Streit news, “A crushing injury for us, but we’ll just have to move on.”
If you missed it earlier, Kirill Kabanov was returned to Moncton of the QMJHL…Camp invitees Manny Legace and Dean McAmmond do not arrive until Tuesday. They will practice with the team once before playing in one of Wednesday’s split-squad games. By league rule, teams must dress a minimum of eight NHL veterans for exhibition games. The Islanders need 16 healthy veterans for each of their split-squad nights on Wednesday and Friday.
After the two sessions ended at 11:00 am, Scott Gordon did not make a secret of the fact that one of the biggest reasons four training camp invitees have arrived is because of the Islanders’ unique preseason schedule. Still, the coach pointed out, the players will be given a fair chance to prove what they’re capable of. Gordon was a fan of McAmmond for the brief time he had him at the end of the 2008-09 season.
No word yet on the status of Kyle Okposo (shoulder). Frans Nielsen (groin/hip) and Doug Weight (groin) have also not practiced in a few days. Gordon said Weight is closest to returning and could play in one of the exhibition games on Wednesday. Goalies Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson also remain out.
Will add more later in this post. Comments are encouraged.