BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut — Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield have been through numerous Islanders training camps. On occasion there’s been one roster spot available on the defense corps; sometimes, like last season, there’s been none for the three young defensemen, who are friends from their time in camp and here in the AHL with the Sound Tigers.
There hasn’t been a camp opportunity like this one for those three. With Travis Hamonic gone to Calgary this offseason, there is a legitimate top-four role available. The fact that all three, despite having played a combined 105 NHL games, need waivers to be sent down also plays a part.
Doug Weight wants to see and hear these young guys — Mayfield is the oldest at 24, Pelech is 23 and Pulock is 22 — make a charge not only to make the team out of camp, but make an impact.
“They’re friends, but it’s a competition,” Weight said. “Each of them should come in every day saying, ‘I’m taking his job.’ That’s the way the world is. I need Ryan to come in and say, ‘It’s my puck, it’s my power play, it’s my job.’ I want him up the ice. I want Pelly up the ice. I want Mayf mean.
“We have an unreal defensive coach in Luke Richardson. Greg Cronin has done an amazing job with this crew. I’m excited for them but I want to see them take the bull by the horns. I want to see it.”
Pulock was the only one of the trio to get a chance in Friday night’s game here against the Rangers, which the Islanders won 2-1. Armed with the hardest shot in the Isles organization, Weight and his coaching staff would love to have that cannon on the power-play point this season. But Pulock, who has 39 goals in his three full seasons in Bridgeport, has to be more than just a power-play weapon to distinguish himself.
“Obviously the goal is just to get better every day and I’m trying to do that,” said Pulock, who has two assists in three preseason games so far.
If the Islanders keep eight defensemen out of camp, it’s more than likely Pulock, Pelech and Mayfield will make the club. But that’s not really enough for Weight, who needs these young defensemen to fill real roles this season.
Notes & quotes: The Islanders made their first cuts of camp, sending Kieffer Bellows, Arnaud Durandeau and David Quenneville to their junior clubs. Bellows, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, signed his entry-level contract on Friday.