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Islanders still auditioning for wing man for John Tavares

Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates in the

Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates in the first period of a preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 24, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

John Tavares received about as lasting an honor as a 24-year-old could have Sunday, with his No. 91 raised to the rafters in Oshawa, Ontario, by his Ontario League junior team.

On Monday, it was back to the grind.

Tavares still is trying to shake off the rust from not playing a game since February as Isles training camp heads into its second and final week, with three preseason games in four nights beginning Tuesday in Boston.

Jack Capuano has plenty of decisions to make with a crowded camp; Tavares is not a big concern, but who plays on the left side with Tavares and Kyle Okposo certainly is. Cory Conacher, the 24-year-old free-agent signee, likely will get a chance Tuesday, the fourth wing to work with Tavares and Okposo this preseason.

"Everyone I've played with brings a lot of offense and can make plays, and that's great. But everyone plays their own style of game, so it takes some adjustment," Tavares said. "The more you're familiar with that, it helps with the chemistry, the more you play together, practice together. So that can help. But the coaching staff is trying to mix things up and I want to be able to play with anyone, just play the way I know I can play no matter who's with me."

Capuano hinted that Brock Nelson, who has been solid at center, could be next in line to try and play with Tavares and Okposo. Nelson centered Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin on Friday in Brooklyn, but Capuano says he sees Grabovski as a center.

"I'm not worried about Brock if I have to move him to wing," Capuano said. "There's a logjam there [at center]."

Tavares was taken aback by the emotions of Sunday's ceremony in Oshawa, where his jersey joined some elite company in the rafters: Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros and pre-World War II star Red Tilson are the others whose numbers were retired.

"It was pretty overwhelming. Emotional, a lot more emotional than I thought it would be," Tavares said. "It's pretty special, especially with the guys that are already up there, it's one of the most historic organizations in hockey up there. So it meant a lot to me; there's a big connection there. It was pretty humbling, an amazing honor, a great night."

Notes & quotes: Lubomir Visnovsky left Monday's practice with back spasms and is day-to-day, though unlikely to play any of the remaining preseason games. That might throw a wrench into Capuano's evaluations on defense, where several players are vying for the final two to three spots . . . Michael Dal Colle, the fifth pick in the June draft, agreed to terms on a three-year contract.

New York Sports