Good Morning
Good Morning

Add Nilsson to the mix of Isles goalies

Anders Nilsson of the Islanders takes a break

Anders Nilsson of the Islanders takes a break during the prospects evaluation camp at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on July 13, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (July 13, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

The nets will be crowded with Islanders goaltenders in September. Al Montoya, Kevin Poulin, Evgeni Nabokov and, of course, Rick DiPietro will be vying for time when training camp begins.

So will Mikko Koskinen, the 6-6, 2009 second-round pick who was one of the six goaltenders who played for the Isles last season. Koskinen had wrist surgery in April and isn't cleared to work in the Islanders' rookie minicamp at Nassau Coliseum this week.

Those five would be enough to compete. But there's another new, tall goaltender from the 2009 draft in the fray.

Anders Nilsson, 21, signed his first North American contract in the spring after a very successful season with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League, and the 6-5 goaltender is trying to follow in the footsteps of a couple other Swedish goaltending imports, Henrik Lundqvist and Anders Lindback, in making the jump straight from the SEL to the NHL.

"I know it's going to be tough from the day I signed," Nilsson said. "Last year [the Isles] were a bit unlucky with all the goalies who got injured. You never know. Maybe this year they all stay healthy. For me, it's most important to play as good as I can."

The biggest transition for a European goaltender is getting used to the smaller rink -- the angles are vastly different and the puck gets on goaltenders quicker inside the blue lines. Islanders goaltending consultant Sudarshan Maharaj, who also played in Sweden, prepared Nilsson for the transition by making trips to Lulea last season to show film to the young goaltender.

"We've tried to show him what the Swedes who have been successful in the NHL play like," Maharaj said. "[Nilsson] has had a lot of success using his big frame to block shots, it's more about blocking. Over here, you have to use more of your athleticism, moving laterally and using your arms. He understands it will take some time to make that transition."

Nilsson doesn't want to end up like another recent Swedish import, Jonas Gustavsson; the two are similar in body type, and the 6-3 Gustavsson was a splashy signing by the Leafs after a couple of impressive seasons in Sweden. But Gustavsson endured some health issues and a couple of mediocre seasons in Toronto and ended last season in the minors.

Nilsson probably will start the 2011-12 season in Bridgeport. And he's more than OK with that. "I'm sure it's going to take a few weeks, but I'm going to get there," Nilsson said. "I have a few things to work on in my game to be successful over here."

Isles sign Colliton. The team signed forward Jeremy Colliton, 26, to a one-year, two-way contract. Colliton had two goals and an assist in 15 games with the Islanders, plus 18 goals and 27 assists in 53 games with Bridgeport last season.

New York Sports