Glendale, Ariz. -- Ryan Strome has arrived with the Islanders, but his NHL debut will have to wait.
Jack Capuano said Strome will sit out tonight’s game with the Coyotes, as if the coach weren’t already one of the most unpopular people on Twitter (at least as far as my timeline is concerned).
“We wanted to get him in here, get acclimated to our meetings, have some time to sit down with him,” Capuano said. “The AHL is a good league, but this is a big difference up here.”
Strome was burning up the AHL for Bridgeport, leading that league with 33 points in 30 games. The Islanders need offense, having scored only 18 goals in the last 11 games.
But the development of their best prospect comes first for Capuano and GM Garth Snow, so Strome will instead make his debut on Saturday at the Coliseum against the Canadiens.
Strome, for his part, is eager but unfazed. “This is the first step,” he said. “I’m not here for a cup of coffee. I want to stick around.”
Capuano confirmed that Strome will play center, the position he’s played all season in Bridgeport. He has some familiarity with Brock Nelson, so a Nelson-Strome-Cal Clutterbuck line could be a potential match. Or Nelson-Strome-Josh Bailey.
In any event, there are some additions to the Islanders lineup tonight. Brian Strait is back off injured reserve for his first game since Oct. 22. Strait, who will be paired with Aaron Ness while Matt Carkner sits, wasn’t a dynamo in those first 11 games, but here’s a perhaps coincidental stat: With Strait in the lineup and on the penalty-kill rotation, the Islanders were 21-for-24 (87.5 percent) killing penalties. In the 21 games since, they have been 51-for-77 (66.2 percent). Plenty of other factors in there, but Strait can help.
Radek Martinek (back) went on IR to make roster room for Strait.
Evgeni Nabokov also comes off IR today, just about four weeks from his groin injury. Anders Nilsson was returned to Bridgeport; the big goaltender had a couple strong games against the Penguins and Caps, but he needs more work, especially with Kevin Poulin’s big performance on Tuesday.
Poulin gets the start tonight against the Coyotes.