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Islanders face tough roster decisions up front and on defense

The Islanders' Noah Dobson skates in his own

The Islanders' Noah Dobson skates in his own zone during the second period of a preseason game at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan/Joseph D. Sullivan

The Islanders were off Sunday, and coach Barry Trotz indicated no further cuts to the 52-man training camp roster will be made until after Monday night’s preseason game against the Red Wings at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum and Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Not that the extra evaluation time will make his job any easier.

“Just as we have the logjam on the forward position, we have a logjam on defense, too,” Trotz said. “Last year, it was a lot easier. After about four, five days of training camp, I knew in my head 85, 90 percent of the team. I can’t say that. There’s too much competition.”

Trotz must pare the roster to 23 for the regular season opener against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 4 at the Coliseum.

Here’s a projected look at the upcoming roster decisions:


The top line of Mathew Barzal centering Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle is set. So is Casey Cizikas between Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Brock Nelson will center the second line, and it sure looks as if Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey will be his wings. Center Derick Brassard and Leo Komarov likely form the basis of a third line.

Michael Dal Colle is proving himself to be an NHL player and would need waivers to be returned to the AHL. Oliver Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018, also is having a strong camp and could add a scoring element to the lineup.

Tanner Fritz and Josh Ho-Sang seem like perennial potentials and Ross Johnston has a physical element when needed.

Trotz is looking for “what separates you from the guy next to you.”

For instance, in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at New Jersey, Tom Kuhnhackl’s yeoman work along the boards in the offensive zone led directly to Otto Koivula’s third-period equalizer.

“He leaves nothing, that’s how he separates himself,” Trotz said of Kuhnhackl. “He’s got two [Stanley Cup] rings on his finger and he keeps making teams. A lot of times, he’s an afterthought. He forces organizations to make him not be an afterthought.”

Roster locks: Bailey, Barzal, Beauvillier, Brassard, Cizikas, Clutterbuck, Eberle, Komarov, Kuhnhackl, Lee, Martin, Nelson.

On the bubble: Dal Colle, Fritz, Ho-Sang, Mason Jobst, Johnston, Koivula, Wahlstrom.

Also in camp: Cole Bardreau, Kieffer Bellows, Arnaud Durandeau, Scott Eansor, Ryan Hitchcock, Simon Holmstrom, Jeff Kubiak, Matt Lorito, Kyle MacLean, Nick Schilkey, John Stevens.

Injured: Bobo Carpenter, Andrew Ladd, Yanick Turcotte.


All eyes are on Noah Dobson, the 12th overall pick in 2018, who must be on the NHL roster or be returned to his junior team.

“If you watch him, you would never know he was 19 years old,” Trotz said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player.”

But Dobson’s development is best suited by playing, not sitting. That’s why speculation has centered on president and general manager Lou Lamoriello possibly trading one of his defensemen for scoring help and to open a spot for Dobson.

Roster locks: Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews.

On the bubble: Dobson, Grant Hutton.

Also in camp: Sebastian Aho, Kyle Burroughs, Seth Helgeson, Luca Sbisa.

Injured: Mitch Vande Sompel, Bode Wilde.


Barring injuries, this is the only position with certainty.

Roster locks: Thomas Greiss, Semyon Varlamov.

On the bubble: None.

Also in camp: Jared Coreau, Christopher Gibson.

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