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Lamoriello Speaks on PTO Decision, Belief in Younger Players & More

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New York Islanders, Lou Lamoriello

We had a chance to speak with New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello at the team’s golf outing on Monday, where he gave a reason as to why no professional tryouts (PTO) were offered, his belief in young players, and more.

“If we thought that there was a player that could potentially get a spot, then we would have done that,” Lou Lamoriello said. “I think with the roster that we have, it would have been very difficult for that to happen because, in my opinion, we have some young players who are very close to playing, and they’re going to get the opportunity, you know, to push or earn that position.”

“And I also feel that if you know, we need something at a given time, then you look around, but right now we’re very comfortable with the group we have.”

READ MORE: LIU Captain Zack Bross Continuing Career With Islanders ECHL Affiliate

On Monday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Calgary Flames had signed Long Island native Sonny Milano to a PTO, a player that many Islanders fans wanted to see in blu and orange.

While the outrage is gust, Sonny Milano has the skill set of a top-six player, but has not been a consistent player in that role throughout his NHL career. The Islanders do not have any room in the top-six, and as Lamoriello mentioned, there are young guys on the cusp that he believes are close and should get the opportunity.

The one reason to bring in a player like Milano is that he knows what it takes to make it to the NHL and is a workhorse. At the very least, he adds a competitive element that would help push others during training camp.

So then it brings us to the next point, who is close to making the roster as full-time NHLers?

The roster seems like a lock, with the same group being brought back from a season ago.

Will Kieffer Bellows get more playing time this season? Can Oliver Wahlstrom establish himself as an everyday NHLer?

Regardless, those two seem guaranteed NHLers in 2022-23, with their roles in the air based on their play at training camp and early on in the season.

But every fan wants to know if prospects Aatu Räty and William Dufour have a chance to make the big club.

Hit the breaks, people.

“They’ll tell us how close they are during training camp,” Lamoriello said. “But if I had a crystal ball, I’d say they’re not ready.”

“I’d rather have the come up too late when it comes to young players rather than too soon.”

Other players have been around, like forward Simon Holmstrom, who is coming off a career year with the Bridgeport Islanders, his second year in the AHL. The 21-year-old Swede had 12 goals and 31 assists in 68 regular season games before three goals and an assist in six Calder Cup Playoff contests.

He could be one of the players Lamoriello was referring to.

As for on the defensive side, there will be a battle for that final spot alongside Scott Mayfield, but Lamoriello made sure to point out that there is another spot up for grabs.

“Well, I think there’s two spots open basically if you want to look at it. Yeah, you know, potentially six and seven [defensemen],” Lou Lamoriello shared. “We haven’t said anything any different from day one.”

Grant Hutton, 27, Robin Salo, 23, Sebastian Aho, 26, and Dennis Cholowski, 24, are the four people up for those two openings.

Hutton, Salo, and Cholowski have been on the ice with the prospects each day of rookie camp.

“Well, they really weren’t supposed to come to the camp, and they wanted to come to get a headstart, getting in the best shape they could and we obliged them,” Lamoriello said.

“It’s a good indication of how serious they are. Age means nothing right now. It has to do with, you know, who’s ready to play and who gains the spot…by merit. Simply on merit.”

All the roster questions will be answered at training camp, as Lane Lambert shared with us last week and Lou Lamoriello reiterated to us on Monday.

Lamoriello has been adamant about the group the Islanders have here, and his actions have certainly backed up his claim, whether it was the lack of moves this offseason or not bringing in any PTOs.

“Certainly, everybody was waiting for something to transpire, but you don’t do something unless you can get better,” Lamoriello said Monday. “And whenever you add, you know, potentially you have to subtract.”

“Right now, we’re in a good situation with our cap, with our group. And I’m extremely comfortable no matter what anyone might think.”

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