For Isles fans and the organization, last season left a lot to be desired, and there’s no doubt that this season is all about winning and taking the next step toward the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup. That task will begin tomorrow as training camp gets underway. Here’s five looming questions as the Islanders head into camp.
1. Will Scott Mayfield win a roster spot?
Scott Mayfield showed in the two playoff games he suited up in that he has a ton of potential, and that he can be an impact player. Being physical and using his size is what make Mayfield a good fit for this type of Islander team. With Lubomir Visnovsky now in Chicago, Mayfield would be the best option to play the role as the sixth/seventh defense-man. Even if he’s used as a depth for the blue line, Mayfield is well-adjusted to the system the Islanders play, in case one of the regulars need a night off here and there.
2. Where does Michael Dal Colle fit in the group of Islanders forwards?
Dal Colle is coming into his first NHL training camp, and with the logjam of forwards, it’s hard to see where there’s a spot for him. There’s no question the Islanders first and fourth lines are set, but the second and third lines are up in the air with a number of combinations that could work especially with the depth the team possesses up front. MDC’s name going into camp is in the mix with the likes of Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Kirill Petrov and Mikhail Grabovski. It will be on him to distance himself from that group.
3. What can the Islanders staff expect from Kirill Petrov?
It has been a long time coming, eight years to be exact, but Kirill Petrov will finally be taking part in training camp. Petrov 6-3, is a big bodied forward that has potential to be a solid third liner who could put up between 15 and 20 goals. Petrov will definitely get his money’s worth finally going up against NHL defensemen after years of playing against less physical, more finesse d-men in the Kontinental Hockey League. The 25-year old will have to use his size and skating ability to impress the coaching staff so they keep him around for the long run.
4. Which player has got the most to prove?
When it comes to training camp, every player has something to prove. For a few players though, much more is expected this year. Kyle Okposo is coming into the season fully healthy after a career threatening eye injury, plus a lackluster performance in the playoffs. Michael Grabner and Mikhail Grabovski couldn’t seem to stay healthy last year which led to underwhelming seasons. These three are all under pressure to turn back the clock to when they were playing the best hockey of their career.
5. Who will be on John Tavares wing by the time camp comes to an end?
Any player who John Tavares plays with becomes better just because of how he elevates them, and that’s straight truth. The Isles have searched for the guy that will compliment Tavares and make their first line one of the most skilled in the game. Without a shadow of a doubt it will be a dog fight between Strome, Nelson and Lee, they are the favorites to fill the slot. Don’t sleep on Michael Dal Colle and Josh Bailey as the other two guys who could take the position, especially if either of them exceed expectations.