Kyle Palmieri appreciated the moment.
An upper-body injury kept him sidelined for a good portion of last season and an undisclosed issue had kept him from skating with his teammates in training camp. So Wednesday’s first step of practicing with what essentially should be the Islanders’ opening-night roster was a mental relief for Palmieri.
“I think everyone is conscious of how quickly this game can be taken away from you, whether it be injury or whatever,” Palmieri told Newsday after practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. “You learn to appreciate the days. For me to get back out there and just have other guys on the ice is awesome. It was nice to get back to work with these guys.”
Neither Palmieri nor coach Lane Lambert would commit to him playing in either of the final two preseason games, in Philadelphia on Thursday night and home against the Devils on Friday night. But both sounded confident Palmieri would be available for the regular-season opener against the visiting Sabres on Oct. 14.
“He had been skating on his own, doing some really productive stuff,” Lambert said. “So I don’t think it’s that long of a window.”
Palmieri said he also practiced with the non-game group prior to Monday night’s 6-5 preseason loss to the Devils at Prudential Center. He suffered an undisclosed injury during pre-camp workouts but had been skating solo.
He had 16 goals and 17 assists in 55 games last season but missed a stretch of 27 of 28 games from November through January because of an upper-body injury. Palmieri, 32 and originally from Smithtown, is in the third season of a four-year, $20 million deal.
“It’s a physical sport,” Palmieri said. “I’ve been playing it a pretty long time and a lot of times you don’t have much control over it. You can control your mindset and how you try and rehab and get back out there.
“It was a long year last year dealing with what I was. This wasn’t related to that. But it’s still tough on the psyche. I’m here to play hockey and when something doesn’t allow you to do it, it’s frustrating. At the same time, you just come in and take it day by day.”
Palmieri was reunited with last season’s linemates Brock Nelson and left wing Pierre Engvall on Wednesday, though Hudson Fasching did rotate in for him on some line rushes. Palmieri also practiced as the net-front presence on the first power-play unit, alternating with Oliver Wahlstrom.
“He’s a really good player,” Engvall said of Palmieri. “He’s strong on the puck. Somehow, he always wins his battle. He’s creating chances that way. It was fun to practice with him.”
Palmieri anticipated some soreness after Wednesday’s practice but mostly was looking forward to getting back into the routine of skating with teammates.
“It’s tough, you never want to miss training camp, it’s an important part of the year,” Palmieri said. “So skating on your own, you can only do so much.”