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Call-up Ullstrom brings a boost to Islanders

David Ullstrom #41 of the New York Islanders

David Ullstrom #41 of the New York Islanders against the New Jersey Devils. (Nov. 25, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

David Ullstrom is just the sort of prospect the Islanders have lacked over the last few seasons. He's not a top-five draft pick and not a young player from another organization who was deemed extraneous and scooped up by the Isles. He's a solid, two-way, homegrown player, the kind teams can never have enough of.

Ullstrom, a fourth-round pick in 2008, is only 22 and in his second pro season. But he learned enough and developed his skills enough to earn a call-up from Bridgeport two weeks ago, and he's done enough in his eight games so far to keep his spot for the foreseeable future.

"We all could see the skill and the speed during training camp the last few years," Josh Bailey said of Ullstrom, who scored his first NHL goal on a feed from Bailey in Tuesday's 5-1 win over the Lightning. "He's got that grit, too, that you need when you come up to show you can handle playing at this level. It's part of the process when you first come up and he's handled it all really well."

Ullstrom and Bailey have clicked extremely well since Ullstrom essentially took Blake Comeau's spot in the lineup -- Ullstrom made his NHL debut in the 5-0 loss to the Penguins on Nov. 21 and Comeau was waived three days later.

That's no guarantee that Ullstrom, who assisted on Brian Rolston's game-winner in Buffalo last week and formed a physical, effective line with another call-up, Tim Wallace, on Tuesday, will stick around.

That's a mistake the Islanders have made in the past, when organizational depth was at a low point and young players stopped developing once they hit the bigs.

Ullstrom started last season playing for Jack Capuano in Bridgeport, and he continued to learn the Isles' style of play under Brent Thompson this season. "I think that's made it a little easier to come up," Ullstrom said. "You know you have to play the same way here or there."

He's done that so far, and that means he'll be here a while longer.

Notes & quotes: Michael Grabner (groin) practiced, though he's still doubtful to play Thursday against the Blackhawks. G Evgeni Nabokov (groin) also practiced, so he may be close to coming off injured reserve; G Rick DiPietro (groin) did not skate, and he may be headed for an IR stint to keep the roster at the 23-man maximum . . . Stars D Mark Fistric got a three-game suspension for his hit that left Nino Niederreiter with a concussion. Niederreiter has been off the ice since Saturday.

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