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Training camp thoughts, Day 3
Some Day 3 camp notes as the Isles head into tonight’s scrimmage with Bridgeport (7 p.m. at the Coliseum, and it’s free!):
-- Euro journalist Matias Strozyk tweeted some translated quotes from Lubomir Visnovsky that seem to indicate he’s going to report in 2-3 weeks’ time, after his young son’s health issues are sorted out.
Isles GM Garth Snow still isn’t sure when exactly Visnovsky will be arriving; the defenseman has asked the Isles to allow him to keep playing for HC Slovan until it’s time to leave, but I don’t think Snow will do that. Too tempting to then keep putting off Visnovsky’s departure date.
So this messy situation isn’t quite resolved yet, but it appears Visnovsky will be an Islander. Not in time for training camp or the first few games, which is less than ideal, but the team is so thin on defense they will need Visnovsky.
-- The additions of Joe Finley and Thomas Hickey off the waiver wire the past 2 days are a further acknowledgment that defensive depth is an issue. Finley is here to provide a 7th or 8th D-man, but Hickey may be another attempt to find a talented guy and provide him a new environment to thrive. (See Michael Grabner, PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson previously).
Hickey was touted as a puck-moving, skilled D-man, but his numbers with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester don’t bear that out as yet. He is only 23 -- the same age as Grabner when Snow plucked him off waivers -- so there’s time. And if it doesn’t work at the NHL level, Hickey’s former assistant coach at Manchester, Scott Pellerin, is the head man at Bridgeport.
-- Not sure of the format for tonight’s scrimmage, but if you go by the Coliseum you’ll see guys in a multitude of roles so that Jack Capuano and his staff can try to evaluate some game-type situations. Power play and penalty kill roles may be settled from tonight, at least heading into the opening weekend. Frans Nielsen will be reprising his role as one of the point men on the first PP unit, with Mark Streit, John Tavares, Matt Moulson and either Kyle Okposo or Brad Boyes rounding out the unit.
It’s easy to forget in the fog of another non-playoff season, but the Isles had a potent power play for much of 2011-12. Moulson tied for third in the league with 14 PPG and the team tied for seventh at 18.5% efficiency for the year. There will be loads of special teams opportunities at the start of this crazy sprint of a season, and this is one way the Isles can compensate for their relative lack of talent compared to their divisional rivals.
-- Ryan Strome changed lines in practice on Tuesday, working with Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom while alternating rushes with Colin McDonald. Strome hasn’t seen much time as a center yet in camp, which could be telling -- the Islanders made a mistake when they tried to use an undersized, teenaged Josh Bailey as a center during his first two seasons, and Bailey got pushed around. Perhaps Strome can break into the league more as a wing.