If there was one teenage rookie who had a chance to stick with the Islanders out of training camp this year, most figured that player would be Michael Dal Colle. The fifth overall pick in 2014, Dal Colle had the experience of one NHL training camp behind him plus a Memorial Cup with his junior team in Oshawa last spring.
But when all but one of the junior-eligible Islanders prospects were dismissed by Monday, the kid left standing was Mathew Barzal. The 18-year-old, drafted 16th overall by the Isles three months ago, has dazzled in camp with his skill and confidence and could stick around during the early part this season.
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Junior-eligible players can play up to nine NHL games without burning a year off their entry-level contracts. Barzal, who plays for Seattle in the Western League, likely won't stay beyond the first couple weeks of the season. But the Isles have liked what Barzal has shown -- and perhaps were a bit disappointed in Dal Colle's camp.StoryIsles' Hickey out a month with upper-body injury
"Michael and I had a good talk before he left," Jack Capuano said. "There's a few things he needs to work on and he's aware. People look at where you're drafted, what you did in junior, but he's not quite ready."
It was not a banner camp for the Isles' two 2014 first-rounders. Joshua Ho-Sang was sent home from camp on the first day for oversleeping, but not before he was punished by running the stairs at a deserted Nassau Coliseum for three hours.
Dal Colle was Ho-Sang's roommate at the Long Island Marriott and, according to numerous Islanders people, Dal Colle did all he could to get Ho-Sang moving that morning.
On the ice, Dal Colle showed his steady, two-way play, but not enough instinctive touch on offense that Barzal showed often.
"I think with Mike he's just incredibly responsible and aware away from the puck," said John Tavares, who like Dal Colle starred for Oshawa in juniors. "He's got abilities that I certainly didn't have when I was his age. There's nothing for Mike to be down about. You just look at Ryan [Strome], who went back to juniors twice and it didn't hurt his development one bit."
This is the ebb and flow of prospect development. The Islanders have dealt away a pair of recent top-five picks early; Nino Niederreiter has flourished with the Wild and the jury is still out on Griffin Reinhart, dealt to the Oilers on the draft floor for the chance to select Barzal at No. 16.
Dal Colle would have needed an amazing camp to crack this roster, so it's far too soon to say anything definitive about his future with the Islanders.
"It's part of the process," Capuano said.
Notes & quotes: Goalie Jaroslav Halak (upper body) skated briefly before practice on Wednesday, an indication he'll be back practicing soon to prepare for the Oct. 9 season opener.