The Islanders held their first practice on Tuesday since cutting their training camp roster in half. But a few injuries from a week of preseason games means the team's depth will be tested right from the season opener next week.
The worst of the injuries is to Thomas Hickey. The durable defenseman is out a month with an upper-body injury suffered in Monday's 3-1 loss to the Capitals when he blocked a shot in the second period. Hickey, who has missed one game the past two seasons, was locked into the third-pair defense spot likely alongside Marek Zidlicky.
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Starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak hasn't played since Sept. 21, when he got in his only 40 minutes of preseason action so far. Jack Capuano said Halak is day-to-day with an upper-body injury; Halak did on-ice work on his own Monday and should be back practicing with the Islanders before the week is out.
Steve Bernier, who signed a one-year deal on the eve of camp, is out one to two weeks with a lower-body injury. Bernier was likely to start the season as a depth forward.
Assuming Halak is ready by the Oct. 9 season opener against the Blackhawks, it is Hickey's absence that will be felt most. Rookie Ryan Pulock and veteran Brian Strait are the only options in camp right now, but rookies Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech played on Monday and are only a phone call away.
Strait is, like Hickey, a lefthanded shot who prefers playing the left side; Pulock, a righthanded shot like Zidlicky, has not played the left side much, if at all. That may factor into who replaces Hickey for the first two to three weeks of the season.
"Nothing is set and we've had guys switch sides [on defense] before," Capuano said. "Brian's been a soldier for us as we all know. I thought Ryan's camp started a little slow, but the last two to three games you've seen the Ryan Pulock we know around here."
Even with a stripped-down camp roster, Capuano likes his options. "We've got good 'D' back there no matter who we put in," he said.
Notes & quotes:The Islanders sent two of their young prospects, left wing Michael Dal Colle and center Anthony Beauvillier, back to their junior clubs. Dal Colle, the fifth overall pick in 2014, seemed to have a chance to stick around for the nine-game tryout allowed teenage players under the CBA, but he did not stand out enough in camp. "He's a great, very coachable kid," Capuano said. "He's going to have a long career in the NHL. He's just not quite ready yet." Mathew Barzal, the 16th pick in this year's draft, is still with the team.