There weren’t a ton of surprises by the New York Islanders or general manager Lou Lamoriello during the offseason.
Perhaps the biggest was the addition of Zdeno Chara last weekend on a 1-year deal, but other than that the Islanders return a majority of their core from their back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Islanders will need to take that next and seemingly final step this season of reaching and winning a Stanley Cup for the first time since the 1980s.
As it had been in the past, the end result is not the primary focus of the players or organization. The New York Islanders are doing things their own way and that means taking things one step at a time.
“They’re coming in with experience,” Lamoriello said during a conference call on Tuesday. “They’re coming in with the same intent they’ve had the last couple of years. To be the best team they can possibly be and do things that are asked of them from our coaching staff day in and day out. Not really thinking about the end result. That’s the way we’ve played since we’ve come in here and that’s what we hope to continue to play.
“If we do it right then we have a chance and that’s all you ask is to get a chance.”
With the Islanders returning its core from last season and getting captain Anders Lee back from injury, the lineup is all but set at this point. It could just be a matter during camp of figuring out where certain players would go.
For instance, Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal will remain on the top line for the New York Islanders, but does Barry Trotz give Oliver Wahlstrom a shot there or put Kyle Palmieri there. In turn that would impact the third line.
Defensively the expectation is that Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock would once again make up the team’s top pairing. That would mean that Scott Mayfield, Noah Dobson, Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara would likely round out the rest of the defensive core.
“I think it’s pretty much in place as far as our goaltending,” Lamoriello said. “I think that you could look and say that you can name the six defensemen who should be in on opening day unless there’s something unfortunate that gets in the way. I think you can pretty much write down the 12 forwards who would be there and can play a lot of different roles. Whether it be power play or whether it be penalty kill. We feel good about that.”
New York Islanders training camp opens on Wednesday and the team begins on-ice activities on at their practice rink in East Meadow on Thursday. Their first preseason game is scheduled to take place on Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.
This year’s camp and preseason will take on an extra bit of importance with the Islanders having to play their first 13 games on the road while UBS Arena is completed. Lamoriello was pleased with how the preseason scheduled worked out for the Islanders and how it should help them adequately prepare for the first 13 games of the year.
“I think the way the preseason schedule is will lead us into our road trip,” the New York Islanders general manager said. “The players will be with their families the whole training camp and I think they’ll be looking forward to going on the road. Remember, we spent several months on the road in a bubble. Last year was a semi-bubble, so we’re accustomed to that.
“We’ll embrace what is in front of us and the glass will be half full with this group as it always is.”