The Islanders officially hit the ice for the first time Sunday in conjunction with the opening of 2012-13 Training Camp. Fifteen forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders comprise the camp roster, which will need to be trimmed to 23 players by Saturday’s season opener against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.
With only six days to implement his system and set a lineup, Head Coach Jack Capuano knows the challenge in front of him will require a lot of quick decision making.
“It’s our job to make sure that we team-build and get the players together as quickly as we can,” Capuano said. “Our plans are laid out, but it’s definitely a quick window for us to get ready before opening night on the 19th.”
Just before camp opened with early-morning physical exams, the Islanders added eight players – six from AHL Bridgeport and two from junior leagues – to their roster. The players from Bridgeport include forwards Casey Cizikas, Colin McDonald and David Ullstrom and defensemen Travis Hamonic, Jon Landry and Ty Wishart. Landry is the only player from that group without NHL experience, but the 29-year-old blueliner leads Sound Tigers defensemen in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20), while also filling an alternate captain role on the squad.
In describing the morning’s transactions, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow noted that each prospect should be in mid-season form.
“They’re game-tested and they’ve been through a training camp,” Snow said. “They’ve played a few months at a higher level so hopefully we don’t have to worry about the minor groin strains or the hip flexors. They’ve played together for parts of the season, not the entire season, but it’s good to have guys that are up to speed physically.”
Also added to the roster were Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart, the Islanders two most recent first round draft picks, both recalled from their Canadian junior clubs. Strome skated informally with several Islanders Friday at Iceworks, while Reinhart flew to New York Saturday following a game with the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night.
“It’s really cool to be here,” Reinhart, who was selected fourth overall in the 2012 Draft, said. “You could definitely tell it’s a faster pace. I’ve been really looking forward to this day. It came a little later than expected but I’m excited to be here. It’s my first time in an NHL training camp so the first couple days will be about getting my feet under the water and just getting used to everything.”
Defenseman Radek Martinek was at Iceworks as well. The 10-year NHL veteran was signed to a one-year contract Sunday and will compete for a top-6 role on the blue line this season. Islanders captain Mark Streit said that Martinek, who has been skating informally at Iceworks since Monday, could bring a lot to the table for a team returning three defensemen from last season’s roster.
“It’s great having him here,” Streit said. “He’s such a great skater, he moves well, he’s great defensively and he’s got a lot of skill. I think he’s underrated. He’s got some offense in him and he’s strong defensively. I’m glad we signed him and he’s going to take a big part in our defense.”
The Islanders practice every day this week in preparation for Saturday’s opener. Tuesday’s practice (11 a.m.), Wednesday’s Blue & White Scrimmage (7 p.m.) and Thursday’s practice (10 a.m.) all are at Nassau Coliseum, and will be open to the general public.
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