ISLANDERS ROSTER NOW AT 25
By Chris Botta
With only nine days remaining until the Oct. 5 season opener in Buffalo, the Islanders have reduced their roster to 25 players. The battle for any openings in the lineup could come down to the Islanders' final two pre-season games, Tuesday in Philadelphia and Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Using Steve Stirling's recent line combinations and D pairings only as a guideline, here are the 25 Islanders remaining in camp.
Robert Nilsson - Alexei Yashin - Miroslav Satan
Jason Blake - Michael York - Trent Hunter
Mark Parrish - Oleg Kvasha - Mattias Weinhandl
Sean Bergenheim - Petteri Nokelainen - Eric Godard
Justin Papineau, Shawn Bates (injured), Arron Asham (injured)
Janne Niinimaa / Brent Sopel
Alexei Zhitnik / Brad Lukowich
Chris Campoli / Radek Martinek
Tomi Pettinen / Bruno Gervais
Defenseman Dustin Kohn, the Islanders' second round pick this summer, has been returned to the Western Hockey League, but not first without impressing the coaching staff and making the scouting staff feel good about the selection. "Dustin is definitely a kid we'll be working with," said Stirling. "He has the wheels, and better than that, he has the smarts." Kohn is a strong candidate to play for Team Canada at this year's World Junior Championships, as is first round pick Ryan O'Marra, back with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.
Along with goaltender Wade Dubielewicz, the following players were sent to Bridgeport this afternoon:
Forwards: Wyatt Smith, Travis Brigley, Matt Koalska, Steve Regier, David Masse, Rob Collins, Kevin Colley, Cole Jarrett, and 2003 second round pick Jeremy Colliton, another leading Islanders prospect who did not disappoint in camp.
Defensemen: Joel Bouchard, Allan Rourke, Ryan Caldwell.
As for the Islanders, young defensemen Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais continue to make their cases for NHL jobs. 6-4 stay-at-homer Tomi Pettinen, who played well in Bridgeport and in short stints with the Islanders before returning to his native Finland last season, has earned serious consideration as well. Expect the Islanders to be down to seven defenseman by the start of the regular season, meaning there likely will be be one more cut.
At forward, the first round draft picks of the millenium have made their mark. 2003 first pick Robert Nilsson has demonstrated enough of his world-class skills to be placed on a line with Alexei Yashin and Miroslav Satan. 2004 first round selection Petteri Nokelainen and 2002 first pick Sean Bergenheim have impressed with their relentless forechecking. Who grabs the remaining open jobs at forward -- it is unknown whether the Islanders will start the season with 13 or 14 -- could depend on the health of a pair of veteran forwards. Shawn Bates (hip flexor) and Arron Asham (rib) have missed practice for much of the last week and remain day-to-day.