After a long and grueling training camp, the New York Islanders have their 23 man roster set to go for the 2013-14 NHL season. As of now, the Islanders’ lineup will have 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two netminders. Head Coach Jack Capuano is happy with the roster that he will be going with to start the season. There were a number of guys who were guaranteed to make the club, plus a few rookies who surprised me out of camp that made the team.
The Islanders will be without Cal Clutterbuck to start the season as he is missing time with the leg injury, but he should be back before Halloween. Now when Clutterbuck does return to the lineup, I could possibly see a rotation with Eric Boulton and maybe Colin McDonald. Of those two, more than likely, Boulton will be the odd man out when Clutterbuck returns.
Of all the rookie forwards that were in camp, only Brock Nelson made the 23 man roster. This surprised me just a little bit, as I felt that Ryan Strome would have the better chance to make the team. Strome is down in Bridgeport, and depending on how well he plays he could see some playing time with the big club during the season. Right now Nelson has the roster spot and is looking to make the best of it. Chances are he could be playing on a line with Michael Grabner and Peter Regin. Those three guys together would provide good energy from the third line. Otherwise the forwards are exactly the same from last year, which is a good sign for the Islanders.
On the blue line, Capuano added some young blood to the lineup with Matt Donovan and Griffin Reinhart both making the club. Those guys are going to be fighting it out for one of the final three dressed defensemen along with Matt Carkner, Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait. It’s already set with the top three defensemen on the club in Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky. Both Donovan and Reinhart are solid puck moving defensemen, so there’s a good chance they could see plenty of playing time. As far as Carkner goes, he will probably get a lot of playing time because he adds a tough physical presence from the back end. The coaching staff could go with a four man rotation with Hickey, Strait, Reinhart and Donovan.
Finally, the goaltending. As expected, Kevin Poulin has been named the backup to Evgeni Nabokov. And this is no knock on the other goalie on this team, Andres Nilsson, but he just didn’t play well enough to beat out Poulin for the job. Don’t get me wrong, Nilsson is a very solid netminder, but he just doesn’t have it yet to crack the big leagues. Given time, Nilsson will be an NHL regular in net.
There are a few things that worry me with this Islanders team. First is the goaltending. How well can Nabokov play? How well will Poulin play as his backup? I’m confident that the goaltending can keep the Islanders in the playoff chase most of the year, but, on paper, I’m just not sure they can get the Islanders to the promised land. Same thing can be said about the defense. The top three in Visnovsky, Hamonic and MacDonald are fine. I’m just not sure yet how well the rest of the defense can hold up. Offensively the Islanders are going to be okay. There’s enough talent here to have the Islanders in a good place this season to make a strong run at things.
What do you think?