After introductions were made and pleasantries exchanged, the very first question posed to Mike Reilly was this:
How was his first day on the new job?
“It was good,” the Islanders’ newest defenseman said late Monday morning following practice at Northwell Health Ice Center. “Good. Got in yesterday morning and spent the day. It’s good to get a practice [in].”
The Islanders claimed the 30-year-old off of waivers from Florida on Saturday afternoon, a few hours after placing Adam Pelech on long-term injured reserve following a check from Ottawa’s Drake Batherson 2:23 into Friday night’s 5-3 win over the Senators.
The Islanders also lost Sebastian Aho to an undisclosed injury 3:07 into the game.
About 45 minutes before the start of practice, the Islanders announced Aho had been placed on the IR retroactive to Nov. 24. Grant Hutton was recalled from AHL Bridgeport in the corresponding roster move.
With the acquisition of Reilly and the Hutton callup, Lambert will have seven defensemen available for Tuesday night’s game against the Devils in Newark, N.J.
During practice, the top pair of Alex Romanov and Ryan Pulock stayed intact. Scott Mayfield was promoted to the second pairing with Noah Dobson, while Reilly skated with Hutton and Samuel Bolduc.
It seems likely that Reilly - who has 12 goals and 86 assists for 98 points in 341 NHL games over nine seasons with Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, and Florida - will dress for the game against the Devils.
When asked to assess Reilly, Lane Lambert emphasized his mobility and experience as net positives.
“Great skater,” Lambert said. “Passed the puck hard and that’s his M.O.: Good first pass guy.
“Veteran guy [who] has played enough games that certainly he has an idea how to play in the league, for sure.”
The question then becomes who will he be paired with. And there is a possibility that Hutton could draw in, thereby making Bolduc a healthy scratch.
During his post-practice availability, Lambert did not seem especially enamored with Bolduc’s performance against the Flyers in Saturday night’s 1-0 shootout loss to the Flyers at UBS Arena.
“Again, I thought he started the game slow the other night and we can’t have that,” Lambert said. Bolduc skated 17 shifts spanning 12:44 but did not play the final 6:28 of regulation nor any of the overtime session.
“There’s just a consistency we need to see game in and game out, regardless of whether he’s been sitting out or not,” Lambert said. “Once you get your opportunity, you have to be ready to go.”
However, he did praise Hutton, who recorded two hits and a blocked shot in the loss.
“I thought he played well,” Lambert said. “I thought he was hard and tried to be as physical as he possibly could. He gives us a penalty-killing option, which is a nice thing.”
Both Cal Clutterbuck and Simon Holmstrom missed practice with what Lambert termed “illness.” …Matt Martin was a full participant in practice. Martin has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury. Lambert said, “We’ll see,” when asked if Martin could come off the IR and dress for the game against the Devils. Martin had been placed on the IR Saturday, retroactive to Nov. 15.