New York Islanders training camp is in full swing, and there’s already plenty of intrigue, so I asked fans to pose any questions they had about the team to me on Twitter. Here were the best.
Who has looked the most improved in camp & who has come in with the biggest chip on their shoulder, in your opinion? – @cward21187
William Dufour was well-known for his heavy shot, but he left a lot to be desired in terms of his skating ability, which held him back during his NHL debut last season.
Dufour said his speed and conditioning were a huge point of emphasis this offseason, and it has shown thus far in training camp.
“I think the biggest thing about him from rookie camp and today is that I feel like he’s worked hard,” said Islanders head coach Lane Lambert following the first day of training camp. “He’s in great shape. I think his skating has improved.”
As far as who has the biggest chip on their shoulder, it’s hard to pick anyone other than Oliver Wahlstrom.
Wahlstrom is aware of his situation coming into the year, and I think he has a very healthy outlook on it.
Based off early camp, what would you say order of calls ups are between Dufour, Maggio and Ruslan? – @PizzaSportsGuy
The order of their call-ups depends entirely on the situation. Where are we in the schedule? What veterans are out of the lineup?
If it’s early in the season, it’ll be Dufour. As I said before, he’s already had his NHL debut and has shown the most improvement thus far in camp.
Ruslan Iskhakov and Matthew Maggio have also impressed, but both have factors working against them.
The Islanders are very deep down the middle and have plenty of options to choose from if someone does get hurt. It’s likely that Mathew Barzal will be moved over from the wing back to center in that event, and even if not, there are players like Karson Kuhlman who could be considered before Iskhakov.
As for Maggio, he isn’t nearly as seasoned as either Dufour or Iskhakov. The 20-year-old has only played three games at the professional level. It’s not impossible for him to see the NHL this year, but if he does, it won’t be until much later in the season, if at all.
Do you think Durandeau has a chance of making the opening night roster? – @IsDufour
Of all the prospects who got a call-up last year, Arnaud Durandeau looked the best in his short time with the Islanders.
He’s skated with Barzal and Bo Horvat so far in camp, however, I don’t see a spot for him on the roster right now.
Barzal and Horvat need a much more experienced player next to them. Plus, the Islanders went out this offseason and added depth to their roster, a role that likely could’ve been filled by Duranadeau if they hadn’t.
Now though, I see him beginning the year in Bridgeport, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be there permanently.
George stays for nine games and then sent back to Juniors? – @kear20
Isaiah George has looked very impressive thus far in camp, but he is still only 19 years old.
What would the point be of him playing nine games in the NHL just to be sent down? If anything, that’d expose him before he’s truly ready and potentially harm his confidence.
He’ll get some looks in at least one of the Islanders’s preseason games before heading back to the London Knights to prepare for the OHL season. There he will continue his development while playing valuable minutes as the team’s top defenseman.
Do you think Gauthier will end up in the opening day lineup, or will he be the 13th forward? – @isles787
Julien Gauthier is built like a New York Islander.
He’s big, he’s fast and is exactly what the Islanders want in their forwards. As far as his role, that’s still to be determined.
Judging by the construction of the roster, I think Gauthier begins the season as the extra forward. He’ll get plenty of playing time over the course of the year, though, since his skillset makes him playable almost anywhere in the lineup, especially in the bottom six.
What team do you see as the Islanders’s biggest threat this season NOT in the division? – @Max_Sacco23
The Islanders have plenty of competition this season.
Outside of their own division, I think the team they have to worry about most is the Buffalo Sabres, who beat the Islanders twice in three matchups last season and finished just two points behind them in the standings.
The Sabres are essentially the inverse of the Islanders, with plenty of speed and skill but very little defensive structure or grit.
The two teams will meet four times this season, twice within its first two weeks. Expect each matchup to be entertaining and come with high stakes.
If the Islanders were actually on an island Survivor-style, who would win? – @brianbutler225
If Zach Parise was still with the team, he’d be my first choice. Nothing says you’re capable of surviving like playing 18 years in the NHL.
Now, it’s tough to tell. The saying goes that it’s the survival of the fittest, but I think whoever’s the most resourceful has the best chance.
My pick is Anders Lee. Not particularly great at anything, but really solid at everything. Plus, as the captain, you’d think his leadership would be useful at some point.