Prized prospect Aatu Raty still remains a longshot to make the Islanders’ opening night roster. But, in a sign that the Islanders’ brass has liked what they’ve seen from the 19-year-old Finnish center’s impressive training camp, he has been included in power-play practice.
“It’s just looking at different options, that’s all,” new coach Lane Lambert said after Saturday’s two practices at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
Raty was included as the net-front presence on a unit with defenseman Robin Salo running the point along with Josh Bailey, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier. Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows also rotated onto that unit.
Defenseman Noah Dobson along with Brock Nelson, Kyle Palmieri, Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee, who was the net-front presence, were together in a likely preview of the Islanders’ top unit.
“That was great,” said Raty, a second-round pick in 2021. “I was playing the same spot in [Finland] last year. I feel like I’m pretty good at power play. Everybody likes playing power play. That includes me.”
New assistant coach John MacLean is now running the power play, which finished 12th in the NHL last season.
“You want to hear what he has to say and his ideas,” Bailey said. “At the same time, you haven’t been on a power play since last season. So you want to get your feel and your timing and find the seams and just make good plays.”
Lambert believes the Islanders will show more structure in their systems’ play against the Flyers on Sunday night at UBS Arena and again at Philadelphia two nights later after struggling through twin 4-1 road losses to the Rangers and Devils to open the preseason.
“We’re looking for more than we had,” Lambert said. “We’re playing more five-on-five, scrimmaging at practice. I’m finding there’s a little bit more efficiency in what we do. There’s more knowledge in where to be. Sometimes, that takes a little bit of time. I expect it to be much better.”
Sunday marks the first-ever preseason game at UBS Arena. The Islanders played three in Bridgeport, Connecticut last season while construction was completed on their new home…Forward Ruslan Iskhakov did not practice after getting banged up during Friday’s scrimmage at UBS Arena…Defensemen Isaiah George and Samuel Bolduc remained off the ice and Lambert did not offer an update. “Same,” Lambert said. “Status quo.”