Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield came into training camp assuming they were fighting for an open spot on defense. That battle lasted less than a day, with the Islanders signing veteran Marek Zidlicky on Friday to essentially fill the last defense spot.
But Pulock, 20, and Mayfield, 22, are trying to keep focused on showing they belong. Both were in the lineup Wednesday night against the Devils at Barclays Center, playing their second preseason games to try and make Jack Capuano's roster choice a bit more difficult.
"You just keep your head down and focus," Pulock said. "I still have to earn a spot with my play this camp no matter who's here."
And recent Isles seasons have shown that not making the team out of camp on defense means so very little. Mayfield played Games 6 and 7 against the Caps last April after injuries to three regulars, including Travis Hamonic; Pulock was also in the mix to play those crucial playoff games with a battered defense corps.
Hamonic played his first preseason game Wednesday night and scored a goal off a nice feed from John Tavares. His health and that of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk are crucial to the Islanders. But Pulock and Mayfield, who are both waiver-exempt, will need to be prepared, even if they go to Bridgeport before Oct. 9.
"It's not like my career here is over if I get sent down," Mayfield said. "If I put out the effort I know I can, I think I'll get my chance."
The Isles eventually pulled out a 2-1 win over the Devils. Brock Nelson had the other Islanders goal and Kevin Poulin made 22 saves over the first two periods.
Isles add McPhee
Former Capitals general manager George McPhee was hired as a special adviser to Garth Snow. McPhee, who was the GM in Washington from 1997-2014, scouted for the Isles last season but is now on board in a bigger capacity.
Snow and McPhee are longtime friends and McPhee represented Snow in the early 1990s during a brief stint as a player agent.
"I really like the makeup of this team," McPhee said. "I had a few offers this summer but I wanted to be part of this organization."
McPhee will continue scouting as well as consult with Snow throughout the year.
"A manager always needs someone to talk to and sound things out," McPhee said. "I'll try to be that for Garth. I was flattered he called me last year to invite me to do some work and it's been great."