The Islanders didn't change much as a team during the offseason. Perhaps that's for the best, given all the changes going on around the players.
As the veterans have rolled into Long Island to begin skating informally and the Islanders' prospects have begun their week- long camp before training camp begins Thursday, there are the usual uncertainties, such as how the Isles will do coming off their best regular season in 30 years.
But plenty of players also are wondering how they'll get to Barclays Center on game days and even where the team will have its Long Island base for practices.
"There's been a lot of talk among the group of guys over the summer," John Tavares said on Friday, the first day he joined roughly 20 of his teammates at IceWorks in Syosset for an hour-long skate. "That's what this time is for -- not only to get in shape and get ready to be on the ice, but also the things around that. The routine, all the things away from the rink that need to be settled."
The Islanders will hold training camp at IceWorks beginning on Friday. Principal owner (for one more year) Charles Wang still is in negotiations to buy Twin Rinks in Eisenhower Park, but that likely wouldn't be ready for the Islanders until early 2016.
And of course there's the big move to Brooklyn for their games. Some players still are hunting for rentals closer to the city, so these few days before camp begins will be more hectic than in years past.
That does not apply to the roster. General manager Garth Snow signed only one free agent, goaltender Thomas Greiss. Any other new additions to the team will be homegrown players.
Defensemen Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield appear to be vying for the sixth spot on defense, even with veterans such as Lubomir Visnovsky and Marek Zidlicky still unsigned and having had talks with the Islanders about deals. Visnovsky played in 53 games last season for the Isles.
"My goal is to make the team, same as it's been," said Mayfield, who played in Games 6 and 7 of the Islanders' playoff loss to the Caps in April. "Those two games were big for me, for my confidence."
Among the forwards, only Kirill Petrov, a 2008 draft pick who has spent the past seven years in his native Russia, is a new face. With camp days away, there still is one missing piece. Brock Nelson, a 20-goal scorer last season, still has not agreed to a contract.
And a deadline looms. Wang has a steadfast rule that players who are unsigned when camp begins will not play at all during the season. He wants no holdouts or negotiations after the report date, which is Thursday.
The Isles are believed to have offered a two-year deal to Nelson, who has no arbitration rights and is in a difficult spot to negotiate.
The upheaval from last offseason, when the Islanders added six new regulars, has changed dramatically. Now -- aside from getting used to all the new routines -- the focus is on surpassing last season's 101 points and seven-game first-round exit.
"I think we understand what's needed over a long season to be in a division race," Tavares said. "It really shows how crucial that point was for home ice last year, all the opportunities we had to earn one more point. You think about all the things we could have done better to get where we wanted to go."