A few notes from Isles rookie camp today:
-- First-round pick Griffin Reinhart didn't get on the ice today as his equipment hadn't yet arrived. He seemed to feel a bit odd-man-out, watching the rest of the skaters in his group going through drills, but he seemed OK with the whole thing.
-- Ryan Strome said he's been working on getting stronger and faster over the offseason, and looked a bit beefier on the ice. As he reminded the small scrum of reporters, Strome doesn't turn 19 until July 11, so there's time to keep growing and filling out.
He told me that his work with John Tavares and a small group of players has been rewarding -- as has engaging Dawn Bray, the skating instructor who helped Tavares immensely, in some private skating sessions.
"She takes video of you and breaks it down really well, showing you where you need to improve," Strome said. "I'm seeing things in my skating I never noticed."
Strome's Niagara team fell just short of an OHL crown, but he benefited from a lengthy playoff run after missing 20 games with facial fractures in the middle of the season.
-- One of the eye-openers among the 2011 rookie campers was D Brenden Kichton, the No. 127 overall pick last June. He showed good poise and hockey sense, and he's demonstrated his scoring touch the last two seasons in Spokane of the WHL with 155 points (40-117) over that stretch, leading all defensemen in the D-heavy WHL.
"It's really considered a defensemen's league, and there were obviously a lot of guys drafted this year out of there," Kichton said. "I'm just trying to keep showing the Islanders I'm worth signing."
Kichton turned 20 on June 18, so he's eligible to play in the AHL if he signs, which the Islanders are keen on doing before September training camp. Kichton looks a bit bigger than the 190 pounds he's listed at.
-- Brock Nelson, the second of the Isles' two 2011 1st-round picks, is approaching this week as more of a tuneup to September, knowing he's signed and committed to pro hockey.
"The first year, you're coming in not really knowing anyone or anything," Nelson said. "I'm trying to take some time to get to know the guys. And this is a talented group of guys here. It's good competition."
-- Anders Lee is not in camp, opting to take summer classes at Notre Dame. Not a great sign that he's not here, but he did pay his own way last summer and turned plenty of heads. If he's on track to either graduate or be close by the end of his junior year, that could spur him to sign quickly after Notre Dame's season ends next spring.
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