With two practices to go before Friday's season opener in Newark against the Metropolitan Division rival Devils, Jack Capuano might yet juggle his top line again. But don't bet on it.
That would mean Kyle Okposo will get the nod on opening night to play top-line right wing with Matt Moulson and John Tavares. Okposo has filled that spot before, to mostly middling success, but if the Isles want to get off to a solid start, Okposo has to be their most dominant right wing. So it makes sense to start him with the most dominant line.
"It doesn't really change anything. I know what I have to do," Okposo said after the Islanders' first practice with their official roster Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum. "It's just a little bit different. Frans [Nielsen] and Johnny are different players. But we've all played together. Played with those two before and I've been with Fransie before."
Josh Bailey had a turn earlier last week with Moulson and Tavares, and Bailey's creativity could be an asset for the other two top-liners. Capuano said he isn't committed to either Okposo or Bailey as yet, but likes that there are options.
"Kyle's more of a power forward-type guy, bangs and crashes. Josh is a guy who's more of a playmaker, he played center for a long time," Capuano said. "Both those guys played well. We'll continue to take a look in practice. I don't think we can go wrong with either of those guys there, if we have to make a change during a game or game-to-game basis."
Pierre-Marc Bouchard started training camp in that top right wing spot, but there didn't seem to be much chemistry -- perhaps it was too much to ask as the Isles shook out their offseason rust to have a newcomer dropped onto that line.
So the presumptive top six will be longer-serving Islanders, with Bailey and Nielsen likely starting with Michael Grabner, though Grabner sat out practice with an illness. With the Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Colin McDonald fourth line set as well, the Isles will have three full lines with a certain degree of familiarity.
"I think we know each other well, know each other's games," Okposo said. "We're excited to start together and see where it goes."
Notes & quotes: D Travis Hamonic skated with a no-contact jersey after being evaluated for a possible concussion Monday and said he felt fine . . . The Isles announced that Okposo and Andrew MacDonald will be alternate captains this season.