The Islanders did very little addition this offseason. That should make things easier for the few NHL veterans who are new to the team.
"It's always good when you're playing with a group of guys who are on the same page -- it helps you get on that page a lot quicker,'' said Cal Clutterbuck, the 25-year-old wing who was traded to the Isles from the Wild on draft day for Nino Niederreiter. "It's a lot easier to read and react off a bunch of guys who know what they're doing.''
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Clutterbuck, his former Minnesota teammate Pierre-Marc Bouchard and former Senators center Peter Regin are the only new faces among the Isles' campers. Jack Capuano already has slotted them into roles in this early stage of training camp; Clutterbuck and Regin have been skating together on a third line with Michael Grabner, and Bouchard is in a coveted spot, on the right side of Matt Moulson and John Tavares.
Bouchard, as Capuano noted, fits the mold of the player who's occupied the first-line right-wing slot since Moulson and Tavares became a prolific tandem four seasons ago.
PA Parenteau was there first and parlayed his success there into a four-year, $16-million deal with the Avalanche, where the former journeyman has continued to shine. Brad Boyes came in last season and contributed 35 points in 48 games on a one-year deal, then opted to attend Panthers camp on a tryout rather than attempt to regain a spot with the Isles.
Bouchard, the eighth overall pick of the 2002 draft, has the setup skills. In 10 seasons with the Wild, he had at least 30 assists four times, the last in 2008-09, before concussions robbed him of nearly all of 2009-10 and parts of subsequent seasons.
He also has the desire to prove himself, as Parenteau and Boyes did, but fitting in with one of the best players in the league in Tavares and one of the most consistent goal-scorers in Moulson.
"I want to play some good hockey, make plays out there,'' Bouchard said. "Johnny is a great centerman, he does everything well on the ice and Matt is a pure goal-scorer and works hard out there. I'll just try to fit in. I'll do whatever it takes to stay on that line.''
Regin, 27, has been adrift the last three seasons after two surgeries on his left shoulder. His only fully healthy season in Ottawa, he had 13 goals and 29 points in 2009-10. That would be more than acceptable production from the depth of the forward group.
"With the shoulder, I was out for almost two years straight,'' Regin said. "You need to get back in shape, but also your touch, your timing, and that took longer than I thought. It was a battle some days but now I'm finally through it.''