As a starting point, at least the Islanders have their health. Which is a lot more than could be said about the team last season.
For Thursday night's first road game of 2008-09, in Ottawa, new captain Doug Weight will see action for the first time since a Sept. 16 groin injury. And veteran defenseman Brendan Witt appears no worse for wear after a painful few minutes of practice Tuesday, when he stopped a puck with his right ankle.
"The team is pretty healthy," said Weight, who was held out of Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh, "and that's important. With a young team, if you're not healthy, that can be a big problem."
Of course, former All-Star goalie Rick DiPietro continues his long rehabilitation. And forward Frans Nielsen has just begun light skating since a surgical procedure on his knee.
Second-year wing Blake Comeau also is back from illness that took him out of the home opener and he will partner with Richard Park and Tim Jackman. And Rob Schremp, Edmonton's former first-round draft pick who played only seven NHL games in three seasons there, will make his Islanders debut on a line with Josh Bailey and Trent Hunter since being claimed on waivers a week ago.
Schremp is a native of upstate Fulton, where the team he favored as a child was something, "I can't say. I enjoyed watching Messier and Richter. You can say Richter was my favorite goalie."
Still, he declared himself "ecstatic" to be picked up by the Islanders. "I get a chance to play. I get a new start."