The likelihood remains that Isaiah George, not eligible to play in the AHL at 19 years old, will be returned to his junior team this season rather than remaining with the Islanders. Still, the defense prospect’s impressive showing in training camp has at least led to questions about his immediate future.
George, a fourth-round pick in 2022 who had seven goals and 15 assists in 54 games last season for London (OHL), worked with top-pair defenseman Ryan Pulock for a third straight day on Saturday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. Noah Dobson, the 12th overall pick in 2018, was the last Islanders defenseman to jump directly from juniors to the NHL.
“The similarities are they both move the puck really well,” coach Lane Lambert said. “Every day I watch Isaiah play, there’s just a little bit more that you like about his game. You can compare that to Noah as well. We had the same feeling with him.”
Lambert did not commit to dressing George for a preseason game, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the preseason opener against the Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden or against the Flyers on Wednesday night at UBS Arena.
George said during development camp that his expectation was to be returned to London, but he knew how beneficial training camp would be.
“I think just more experience, more opportunities to expand my game and work on my weaknesses and just continue to build, basically,” he said.
Working with Pulock should be a big boost for his learning curve.
“There’s a real value to him, as a younger player, to be able to communicate and talk with a veteran player,” Lambert said. “There’s a huge value to seeing how different guys play with different players and NHL players.”
First round of cuts?
Lambert would not give a timetable on when the first cuts to the 66-player training camp roster will be made. But it would be logical for some players to be reassigned after the back-to-back games that start the six-game preseason schedule.
“After those two games, we’re going to re-evaluate,” Lambert said. “Then we’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to do.”
Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau returned after missing Friday’s practice because of illness . . . Right wing Kyle Palmieri, who has been skating on his own, missed his third straight day of camp for undisclosed reasons. Lambert had no update on when he might be able to start skating with his teammates . . . The Islanders will be off on Sunday before resuming practice on Monday.