Islanders ready to begin training camp
The Islanders report to Nassau Coliseum Saturday morning to complete physicals before heading to Saskatoon, where they'll begin training camp. The Islanders, who finished last in the league with a record of 26-47-9 last season, will play eight preseason games, including the team's preseason home opener against the Devils Sept. 23.
1John Tavares. The Islanders used the first overall pick in the June draft on Tavares, a standout sniper the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. The hope is that Tavares' skill can translate to the NHL level - and fast. The team did not have a player reach 20 goals last season, although Bill Guerin eventually topped the mark after being traded in March. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, last season was the first in team history that a player did not score 20 or more goals. The Isles were the first team without a 20-goal scorer since the 2003-2004 Carolina Hurricanes.
2Goaltending. Rick DiPietro played only five games last season because of injury, leaving the Islanders without a legitimate starter. Backups Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis tried to fill the void but it was a soft spot all season. The Islanders signed Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron during the offseason to provide depth and give DiPietro the necessary time to recover. The key questions are: What happens to Roloson and Biron when DiPietro returns? And, more importantly, when does DiPietro return?
3Staying Healthy. The Islanders were saddled with a whopping 583 man-games lost to injury last season. Veterans such as DiPietro, Doug Weight, and Trent Hunter missed time and the absence of several young players - Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey - put a crimp in the team's rebuilding process.
C John Tavares, 18. With 215 goals and 218 assists in four seasons with the Ontario Hockey League, the Islanders hope he can become a potent offensive threat at the next level.
G Dwayne Roloson, 39, a veteran netminder the Islanders locked up in a two-year, $5 million deal on July 1. Roloson claimed the starting role last season for Edmonton, where he was 28-24-9 with a 2.77 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 62 starts for the Oilers.
G Martin Biron, 32, another bona fide starter signed in free agency. Biron, whom the Islanders signed to a one-year deal in July, was 29-19-5 with a 2.76 GAA and .915 save percentage in 55 appearances for Philadelphia last season.