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Isles' young defense, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee
Some notes from Thursday’s Isles-Devils game in Newark:
-- Jack Capuano was particularly pleased with the work of his very inexperienced defense against a Devils team that had about 75 percent of its opening night roster on the ice. Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock, Andrey Pedan and Scott Mayfield all played very capably; Mike Dalhuisen, the 24-year-old out of The Netherlands and Quinnipiac University was also strong and should be a nice addition in Bridgeport.
Capuano said the young D “will all be good players in the future for this organization.” Capuano doesn’t have the final call, of course, but it’s telling that none of the top defense prospects are being rushed.
Reinhart may not have much more to prove in junior hockey, but there isn’t room for him yet on the Islanders, so he’ll almost certainly be going back to Edmonton. Whether he hangs around for a few regular-season games is still in question, but history says the Isles will not keep Reinhart here if he’s not playing. And there’s close to no chance he’ll be playing.
Pedan and Mayfield are worth watching as well. Pedan likes to mix it up physically while Mayfield seems more the steady, unnoticed type, but both will get a full year in Bridgeport to improve.
-- Among the forwards on Thursday, Brock Nelson stood out. He’s the sort of capable, two-way player that Capuano wants among his forwards. I wrote about Ryan Strome and the opportunity that has presented itself on the wing with Cal Clutterbuck (skate laceration) out for 4-6 weeks, but here’s another scenario I could envision: Nelson as the third-line center, flanked by Peter Regin on the left and Michael Grabner on the right. Grabner came to the Isles as a RW, so it’s not out of the question.
-- Anders Lee also had a nice night in Newark. I’m not sure he’s done enough so far to start the season with the Isles -- he still has a ways to go on the defensive side of the puck and he may not have the speed to keep up with the game Capuano wants to play. But he’ll be an effective scoring winger in the future; whether that future is with the Isles, given his contract is up this year, is another story.
-- Kevin Poulin had a few shaky moments in the first two periods, but he got more aggressive as the game went on, which is what Capuano and Mike Dunham want to see. When he sits back, he gives up seeing-eye goals like the two Devils scores in the second; he fought through traffic to make some terrific third-period saves. We’ll see what Anders Nilsson has to offer this weekend.