COUNTDOWN TO NYI CAMP: The Defense
Monday, 09.10.2007 / 12:45 PM ET / News
By Jason Lockhart - Website/Publications Coordinator
A look at the defensemen participating at the Islanders' 2008 Training Camp
Hockey season is about to begin for the Islanders, but before the final roster is set, some decisions need to be made at training camp. On defense, the Islanders return Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Bruno Gervais, Chris Campoli and Freddy Meyer, while adding Andy Sutton and Aaron Johnson in the off-season. The summer acquisitions and the tryout of Bryan Berard should make the competition for the seven spots interesting.
Below is a sneak peek at the 18 defensemen set to make their way to Moncton, New Brunswick for the Islanders' 2007 Training Camp, which begins on Friday.
Born: March 5, 1977 -- Woonsocket, RI
Berard joins the Islanders in Moncton on a tryout basis. The former Calder Trophy winner spent three seasons with the Islanders from 1996-99 before playing for Toronto, the Rangers, Boston, Chicago and Columbus. The 1995 first overall draft pick by Ottawa spent the 2006-07 season with Columbus, tallying three assists in 11 games. In 2004, Berard captured the Masterton Trophy for dedication and perseverance after returning from a serious eye injury. If Berard can return to form, he could be a serious contender to quarterback the Islanders' power play.
Born Oct. 13, 1980 -- St. Louis de France, QC
The hard-shooting left-handed defenseman skated for the Edmonton Oilers in his first three-plus seasons before being acquired last season by the Islanders prior to the trade deadline. Bergeron was a key contributor the Islanders' power play boost at the end of last season, compiling four power play goals and five power play assists in 23 games. His blistering shot will no doubt return to the right point, but the question remains who will be setting him up from the left side.
Born: July 9, 1984 -- North York, ON
After a standout rookie season in 2005-06, Campoli was forced out of the lineup in 2006-07 with an injury, but returns to Long Island armed with a three-year contract and ready for another full season. Campoli registered a goal and 13 assists in 51 games. He played arguably one of the best periods of his NHL career in the series-deciding game against Buffalo in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Down 3-0 to Buffalo heading into the third, Campoli orchestrated a comeback that fell just short, contributing a goal and an assist, along with a +1 rating. It was an encouraging sign for the 23-year old.
Born: July 28, 1983 -- Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Fata spent much of last season playing for the Sound Tigers, where he was a force to be reckoned with. His 185 penalty minutes in only 64 games was tops on the team. Fata's steady play on the Bridgeport blueline earned him a spot with Islanders for four games, including Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against Buffalo. He made his NHL debut on Feb. 4 in Washington and scored his first NHL goal on March 15 at Ottawa.
Born: Nov. 17, 1985 -- Sarnia, ON
A walk-on at last year's Islanders training camp, Fraser won a spot with the Sound Tigers last season and played in 43 games, notching three goals and 11 assists. Fraser also played in two games with the Syracuse (AHL) and 27 contests with South Carolina (ECHL). During this summer's Prospects Camp, Fraser was one of the stronger defensemen on the ice, often jumping into the play to generate more offense.
Born: July 11, 1986 -- Sherbrooke, QC
Frechette earned a minor league contract with the Islanders after showing he had skills while participating at the 2007 Islanders Prospects Camp. Frechette has spent the past four years playing in the QMJHL for Gatineau. There he's shown his toughness by eclipsing the 100 penalty minute mark each of the past three seasons. But Frechette has also proven he can put some points on the board, as well, by tallying 23 goals and adding 50 assists last season in 70 games.
Born: Oct. 3, 1984 -- St. Hyacinthe, QC
Ted Nolan showed a lot of confidence in the young French-Canadian blueliner during the 2006-07 season. Gervais played in a career-high 51 games, picking up six assists along the way. By season's end, Gervais was paired with his Bridgeport counterpart Campoli and the two worked effectively in key situations. Gervais joined Campoli in having an outstanding third period in Game 5 of the ECQF against Buffalo. Considering the number of defensemen with one-way NHL contracts already on the team and the possibility of signing Berard, Gervais' two-way contract could make the blueline scenario very interesting.
Born: Feb. 18, 1983 -- Huntington, NY
The son of former Islanders defenseman Gerry Hart, Jordan recently signed a minor league contract with the Islanders after an impressive showing as a walk-on at the Islanders Prospects Camp this summer. Hart split time last season between Merrimack College and the UHL. In 29 games with Kalamazoo (UHL), Hart tallied three assists. He then played in three playoff games with Chicago (UHL). Before joining the pro ranks, Hart was a three-year standout defenseman with Merrimack, which participates in the ultra competitive Hockey East Conference.
Born: April 30, 1983 -- Port Hawkesbury, NS
Johnson brings additional NHL experience to the Islanders depth chart. The 6-1, 191-pound Nova Scotia-native has appeared in 116 NHL games, totaling seven goals, 19 assists for 26 points and 93 penalty minutes. Last season, Johnson played in a career-high 61 NHL games for Columbus compiling three goals and seven assists. Johnson has the talent to make a serious run for a spot on the Islanders' defense. If not an initial member of the Islanders' defense corps in 2007-08, he could be one of the first to be called up if someone goes down with an injury.
Born: May 9, 1989 -- Timmins, ON
The speedy 2007 Islanders third-round draft pick makes his Islanders Training Camp debut. The coaching staff liked what they saw from Katic at the 2007 Prospects Camp this summer. Katic will return for his third season with Sarnia of the OHL, where he has been one of the best defensemen on the team. Last year, Katic ranked second in points on the team's defense with 40 in 68 games. Having just turned 18 this year, Katic was one of the youngest players on the team over the past two seasons.
Born: Feb. 2 1987 -- Edmonton, AB
After five productive seasons in the WHL, Kohn signed an entry level contract this summer with the Islanders. After developing his offensive game, Kohn honed his defensive skills once drafted by the Islanders in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The fifth and final season in the WHL saw Kohn reach career highs in assists (45) and points (50), while leading the Brandon Wheat Kings in plus/minus (+23). Following Brandon's elimination from the WHL playoffs, Kohn joined the Sound Tigers for the final two regular-season games.
Born: May 29, 1989 -- Ottawa, ON
A seventh round 2007 Islanders draft selection, Lacroix makes his Islanders training camp debut. Lacroix spent last season with Shawinigan of the QMJHL. In 60 games, Lacroix ranked first on team's defense in goals (11), assists (27) and points (38) despite only being 17 years old. Lacroix will return to Shawinigan this season, but should get a valuable experience up in Moncton.
Born: Sep. 7, 1986 -- Judique, NS
An All-Star defenseman for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, MacDonald spent a season playing under Islanders head coach Ted Nolan during the 2005-06 season. He saved his best for his final year of eligibility at the junior level by posting a line of 14-44-58 in 65 games last season. Following the conclusion of his team's season, MacDonald joined the Sound Tigers for the final three games, giving him his first taste of pro hockey. MacDonald performed well at last year's training camp and earned a spot on the Islanders' exhibition roster.
Born Aug. 31, 1976 -- Havlicko, Czech Republic
After an excellent start to the 2006-07 season, Martinek went down with a serious leg injury cutting short a potential breakout season. During the team's first 43 games, Martinek was considered by some as the team's best defenseman. Before missing the second half of the season, Martinek already had tied a career high with 17 points. An injury-free 2007-08 season could have Martinek turning heads.
Born: Jan. 4, 1981 -- Wolfeboro, NH
An undrafted Boston University graduate, Meyer joined the Islanders with more than half the season to go in 2006-07 in a trade with Philadephia. A 27-point scorer for the Flyers in 2005-06, Meyer was hampered by a serious hand injury to close the 2006-07 season, limiting him to 60 games. A healthy Meyer should help bolster the offense provided by the Islanders' defense.
Born: Feb. 7, 1983 -- Daysland, AB
Spiller provides added physical depth to the organization's defense. The Alberta-native has appeared in 59 NHL games over the past four season. In 2006-07, Spiller spent the entire season with San Antonio of the AHL. There, he contributed a goal and seven assists, and totaled 187 penalty minutes. Spiller should add some spice to training camp, where fisticuffs are known to break out as players fight for valued spots on the Islanders' and Sound Tigers' roster.
Born: March 10, 1975 -- Kingston, ON
The menacing 6-6 defenseman out of Kingston, Ontario will be an important crease-clearer in front of DiPietro and Dubie. With one of the biggest bodies and the longest reaches in the NHL, Sutton makes it very difficult for the opposition to handle the puck in the offensive zone. A big man with good hands, Sutton has compiled 20 points in a season three times during his NHL career. Last season, Sutton played in 55 games for Atlanta, scoring two goals and adding 14 assists.
Born: Feb. 20, 1975 -- Humboldt, SK
Witt was the rock of the 2006-07 Islanders defense. Despite sacrificing his body like no one else all season long, Witt only missed one game in the season. The 12-season NHL veteran ranked fifth in the league in blocked shots last season with 207 and tied for seventh in hits with 231. The pairing of Witt and Martinek at the start of last season proved to be effective. Look for Nolan to try reviving that tandem at the start of the 2007-08 season.