Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang, Ryan Pulock among youth to make Islanders roster
The Islanders went with youth to round out their 23-man roster, putting veteran forwards Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta on waivers Monday at noon to complete their roster before the season begins Friday in Columbus.
With young defenseman Devon Toews sent to Bridgeport earlier Monday and Alan Quine (wrist surgery) and Shane Prince (ankle surgery) headed to injured reserve, the Isles will have six first- or second-year players among the 23.
Rookies Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang and Ryan Pulock all made the team, as did fellow homegrown youngsters Anthony Beauvillier, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech among the 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders.
Barzal led the Isles with seven points in five preseason games, Beauvillier had two goals in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Flyers and Ho-Sang had three assists in six preseason games. The Isles will have one extra forward but it certainly appears those three will get a chance to play.
“Barzy was only here for a couple games last season, but I think he really learned a lot about what it takes to play in this league,” Casey Cizikas said. “It’s great to see those guys grow.”
On defense, it’s possible only one of Pulock, Pelech or Mayfield plays Friday, with veterans occupying the other five spots. But Doug Weight liked what he saw from all three young defensemen in the final week of the preseason.
“I think we all accomplished the first goal, which is making the roster,” Mayfield said Sunday night. “Now you want to be a guy that can be an every-night player, someone who can be relied on to play a big role. That’s what all three of us are competing for and I think that competition made for good camps for all of us.”
All three defensemen have brought slightly different skill sets to this camp and that may factor into Weight’s decision on who plays, most likely on the right side with Thomas Hickey. Pulock has the biggest slap shot in the organization but he’s struggled at times in his own end. Mayfield isn’t the fastest skater but he took a huge step forward last season with his decision-making and ability to generate plays out of his own end.
And Pelech, who signed a four-year contract with $1.6 million per this past summer, has been steady as usual playing as a lefthanded shot primarily on his off side.
The Isles face the Blue Jackets on Friday and then host the Sabres at Barclays Center on Saturday, so Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss will each get some work on the opening weekend. The two goaltenders allowed just five total goals in six games during the preseason.