With just about a month and a half away from training camp, the roster is completely overloaded with an abundance of forwards and defenseman. Looking at this roster now with all of the veterans already and the next wave of young talent set to join the team, it is going to be an interesting training camp to say the least. Multiple players will be fighting for roster spots. Garth Snow has not been as active as most fans had hoped for (including myself) and he is putting a lot of pressure on these young players to produce. Will it be enough? That’s something we’ll just have to wait and see but for now let’s take a look at the logjam this team has.
Granted this is based off nothing but speculation but here is my projected opening night forward group:
That leaves Prince, Kulemin, Quine as spares. Michael Dal Colle is a longshot to make the team unless he has a very impressive training camp. The thing I’m worried about the most is will these spare forwards cause some of these kids to lose ice time? Is Anthony Beauvillier going to have to start the season in Bridgeport because of the logjam? Will Matthew Barzal be sent back? These questions have to be answered. Garth Snow has to make room for these kids to play. It’s highly unlikely anyone takes Kulemin’s contract so I expect him to either be a spare or be in the lineup regularly. Alan Quine can easily be waived and sent to Bridgeport. I can see a team possibly picking him up off waivers as a spare forward but I don’t think losing Alan Quine should be a big concern for this team. Shane Prince is an interesting case. The Islanders traded a third round pick to acquire Prince so Snow may be somewhat hesitant to waive him. It could be possible that Prince is in the lineup as well but Snow may try and deal Prince for a draft pick to make some room.
Now looking at the defense, there are many concerns in my opinion about the overall talent. Going into last year I wasn’t very confident in the Islander defense and that was with Travis Hamonic. Now with Travis traded to Calgary, Ryan Pulock is going to have to play a large role on this team. Here are my projected opening night defense pairings:
Extras: Seidenberg, Mayfield
The Islanders ranked 23rd in team defense last season and in my opinion, they are even weaker this year. Ryan Pulock is really going to have to establish himself as a top 4 guy and have an immediate impact. Calvin DeHaan has to continue his play from last season, which was the best season of his career. Johnny Boychuk had a solid season but he is an aging player who is playing top pairing minutes. Nick Leddy is excellent so no concerns about him. The Islanders committed to Pelech for the next 4 years so he will also be heavily relied on to play big minutes. It’s going to be quite interesting to see how this defense pans out.
Clearly there is a logjam at both Forward and Defense. The question is whether Snow will keep this same roster heading into training camp or will these veterans affect some of the ice time that should be given to the kids? (Barzal, Beauvy, Pulock etc.). History shows that Snow and his coaching staff have always leaned over veterans more than their rookies. Jack Capuano is long gone now and I believe Doug Weight will pick the best roster possible. If Barzal, Beauvillier excel in camp then I just can’t see Weight sending them down. Personally, I think this team is still in need of another top 6 forward (particularly a #2 center) and another top 4 defenseman but that’s a story for another day. Right now, if this team stays the same heading into camp, this brand new coaching staff and Snow will have some MAJOR decisions to make.