Something to Prove

This summer could be a pivotal one for a trio of forwards at this week's mini camp

Wednesday, 07.10.2013 / 5:11 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Something to Prove
This summer could be a pivotal one for a trio of forwards at this week\'s mini camp
Anders Lee served as captain of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2012-13, leading the team in goals (20) and points (38) (Photo: New York Islanders).

While management, coaches and fans are taking time to familiarize themselves with many new names on the 2013 Mini Camp roster, three forwards who they are undoubtedly taking a harder look at this week are Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee, each of whom have a chance at earning a position on the Islanders in 2013-14.

Lee and Nelson were both given a taste of the NHL at the end of last season, while Strome has been widely considered the club’s top prospect since being selected fifth overall in 2011.

Following his three-year career at Notre Dame, Lee made the jump straight to the NHL in April. The Edina, MN native dressed for two games, scoring in his debut vs. Winnipeg on April 2, and posting an assist in the second contest on April 6. Though he didn’t dress for another game down the stretch, he remained with the Islanders for the duration of the season.

“Being up here for a month and being able to understand how things work was beneficial,” Lee said. “I got experience with the day-to-day life, getting my body ready every day and the mental side of things at the same time. I didn’t know if I was in the lineup or not each day, and just had to be ready to go no matter what. It was just a good experience and I definitely learned a lot from it. That should help me in the future.”

Nelson, a fellow Minnesota native (from Warroad), played a full season with AHL Bridgeport before getting called up to the big club for the postseason. Nelson led the Sound Tigers with 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists), playing in all situations.

“I think the year went well in terms of development,” Nelson said of his first professional season, which followed a three-year stint at the University of North Dakota. “The lifestyle is different, but it’s fun to be there and to have that opportunity. It’s every player’s dream to play professional hockey, so you’ve got to make the most of it.”

After his NHL call up, Nelson took in the atmosphere of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the stands. When a lineup spot opened up prior to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Pittsburgh, the Islanders first round (30th overall) pick in 2010 stepped in and made his NHL debut.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind, but a great experience,” Nelson said of his first game. “That’s the highest level you can get to. It was bittersweet, because it ended up being the end of the year for the team. The game was exciting nonetheless.”

Strome made his pro debut the same night as Lee, albeit for the Sound Tigers, and also lit the lamp in his first game. At the conclusion of his four-year junior career with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, the Islanders first round (fifth overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Draft signed an Entry-Level Contract, and posted seven points (two goals, five assists) in 10 games.

Ryan Strome scored 281 points (100 goals, 181 assists) over his four-year junior career with Niagara (Photo: New York Islanders).

“I think I learned how to be a pro this spring,” Strome said. “It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but I feel like I made a pretty seamless adjustment. It’s harder to play against the bigger bodies and some older guys, but I think that experience is probably the best one I’ve had in recent years. I think it really helped my development.”

Strome has his sights set on a bigger stage in the future. While this week’s camp is not a tryout for next season’s NHL roster, Strome wants to show the coaches the facets of his game that have improved since last season’s training camp.

“I think about getting to the NHL every day,” Strome said. “It’s where I want to be. Everything I do, day or night, relates to being on the Islanders.”

Lee, Strome and Nelson are each playing at a higher level than they were a year ago, leaving all three with a better idea of what it takes to make it to the NHL full-time.

“It’s another level, the jump from the American League to the big leagues,” Nelson said. “There’s not a lot of time out there to make plays. You’ve got to be quick with everything you do. That’s something I have to work on.”

“It’s positioning for me,” Lee said of his biggest summer self-improvement project. “Knowing the systems, being able to get in here and learn that and adapt to the changes from the college level is key. If you know the system, you’ll be in the right spot at the right time.”

Looking ahead to training camp in September, Strome has his own plan in place.

“I know I have to get stronger and work on all parts of my game,” Strome said. “I’m going to come to camp ready to battle. Nothing is going to be a given. I know I have to work hard. There may be question marks at training camp, and I’ll be looking to fill one of those spots and show that I belong.”




1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


J. Tavares 75 34 40 -1 74
R. Strome 74 15 31 19 46
K. Okposo 53 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 74 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 75 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 69 23 16 14 39
J. Bailey 63 15 23 6 38
J. Boychuk 65 8 25 10 33
T. Hamonic 65 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 71 10 19 16 29
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08 is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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