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Islanders Prospects Starting To Emerge In Rookie Camp Says Kowalsky




East Meadow, NY–Through each day of the New York Islanders’s rookie development camp, Bridgeport Islanders head coach Rick Kowalsky has ramped up the pace and intensity. After the first four days of camp, Kowalsky feels the players are starting to show who they are.

“You got to be careful not to get too excited because these are young guys,” said Kowalsky after Sunday’s practice. “But you can see guys are starting to settle in a little more and slide into the reason they got here.”

The defensemen such as Travis Mitchell, Eetu Liukas and Aidan Fulp have especially impressed Kowalsky.

Isaiah George, the youngest of the blueliners at only 19 years old, has come into camp this year and has shown ability well beyond his years.

“If you were going to teach a kid the proper posture and skating, he’s probably not too far off,” said Kowalsky. “He’s always centered, he doesn’t overextend. His mobility and his feet make him really tough to get by one-on-one.”

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George officially signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders before the start of camp. He’ll play one last year in juniors for the OHL’s London Knights this season before turning pro next season.

As for those in camp who will be with Kowalsky in the AHL and potentially the Islanders at some point in the NHL this year, William Dufour has come into camp and begun to answer the questions surrounding his game.

Dufour had a solid season in Bridgeport last year but got exposed in his first crack at the NHL, which is why he placed an emphasis on his skating and stamina during his offseason training.

“He’s been consistent,” said Kowalsky. “That’s what he’s going to need to do to become an everyday NHL player. He’s looked sharp. Obviously, his biggest threat is his ability to shoot the puck and get it off, but he can make plays [too]. The biggest thing for him is the skating ability, the better conditioning and stamina. That’s going to allow him to give himself more space to make some of those plays.”

Dufour’s wheels aren’t the only ones Kowalsky mentioned, either. Goaltending prospect Tristan Lennox has been eager to jump into skating drills with the forwards during camp and has shown some extra fire between the posts as well.

“I’ve been impressed with Lennox this year,” said Kowalsky. “His compete level on pucks and the way he communicates, he seems like a real competitive guy in general.”

Kowalsky will keep pushing the competitive level as camp continues.

The Islanders prospects have a day off today as the organization hosts its annual golf outing. Rookie camp will start back up on Tuesday before the team’s main training camp begins on Thursday.

Follow Andrew Fantucchio on Twitter: @A_Fantucchio