EDMONTON — The Islanders weren’t in on the flurry of trade activity around the NHL on Saturday, but they still were planning a few internal moves ahead of today’s game against the Oilers.
Ryan Pulock practiced Saturday as if he were going to make his NHL debut after sitting as a healthy scratch in the first two games of this five-game Western Conference swing.
Perfect timing, too: Pulock’s family decided to make the 10-hour drive from Dauphin, Manitoba, regardless of his playing status. “They don’t mind driving,” the 21-year-old Pulock said. “They wanted to see me.”
Now they’ll quite likely see his first NHL game. Pulock practiced mostly alongside Thomas Hickey and also took a spot on the second power-play unit. Of his 24 goals in the AHL the past two seasons, 17 have been on the power play.
“There’s a real good chance you’ll see him out there tomorrow,” coach Jack Capuano said of Pulock, who would take Marek Zidlicky’s spot. “You don’t want to say too much because you know the nerves will be there with his first game, but you just want him to grab the opportunity.”
It might be a short-lived one. With the trade deadline looming, general manager Garth Snow still has time to add a piece or two before the clock strikes 3 p.m. Eastern time Monday. The Islanders also got an extra body back into the fold, with defenseman Calvin de Haan (lower body) joining the team to resume skating. De Haan still is a few days away from being ready to return, but his health and a strong game by Pulock could remove the need for Snow to add a defenseman.
Sunday’s opponent, the Oilers, were busy sending out three players for futures. Former Islander Anders Nilsson went to the Blues, wing Teddy Purcell went to the Panthers and defenseman Justin Schultz went to the Penguins.
The Islanders’ lack of a second-round pick in the upcoming draft hurts their ability to trade for a rental and the price still is too high for the Coyotes’ Mikkel Boedker, one of the few potential impact forwards on the market.
Snow is unlikely to move his first-round pick for anything but a player under contract beyond this season, and that sort of move would be a surprise in the frenzied hours before the deadline.
Notes & quotes: Mikhail Grabovski (upper body) skated on his own on Long Island and could be ready to return to action in a week or two . . . Goalie Eamon McAdam, the Isles’ 2013 third-round pick, was named a finalist for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top NCAA goaltender. McAdam is 11-4-1 with a .928 save percentage for Penn State.