There aren’t many open spots on this Islanders roster, evidenced by the fact that the team invited less than 50 players to camp. With 14 forwards on one-way contracts, it seems to be more about who can play in what spot and who fits well with whom.
For young players Shane Prince and Alan Quine, there is no certainty. That’s the only way for both of the 23-year-olds to approach this camp, Prince’s first with the Islanders and Quine’s fourth, but the first with NHL experience under his belt.
And what experience it was for Quine. He played his first two NHL games on the final weekend of last season and that was enough to earn a spot in the lineup for Game 1 of the opening round playoff series against the Florida Panthers.
He ended up with a goal and four assists in the postseason, including the Game 5 double-overtime winner that was the second-biggest goal for the Isles last spring.
“It was an unbelievable couple months for me,” Quine said on Tuesday. “It was nice having that taste, helping in the playoffs. It made me believe I can be here, become an NHL player. Once you get up here you never want to go back, so it makes you work that much harder.”
Quine’s path to a regular roster spot is taking him through unfamiliar territory so far in camp — on the right wing. He came up through the junior and AHL ranks as a center, then played left wing on the top line with John Tavares at times in the postseason.
With the Islanders thin on the right side, Quine is willing to give it a shot. “If that’s the spot that gets me into the lineup, I’m going to put everything I can into it,” said Quine, who skated on the right with Michael Dal Colle and Brock Nelson at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Prince also knows nothing is assured even after he opened some eyes last spring. Acquired from the Senators a few minutes before the NHL trade deadline, he had three goals in 20 games over the final month of the regular season.
In the playoffs he matched that goal total, including a pair of goals in the Game 1 win over the Lightning in the second round. Prince has speed and a willingness to drive the net, two things Jack Capuano prizes in his forwards.
“It’s nice to be able to come in and have a full camp with the team, to really feel like I’m part of something,” said Prince, who was a 2011 second-round pick by Ottawa but didn’t crack the Senators lineup until last season, and at that only sparingly. “I want to show I can contribute here.”
Notes & quotes: Ryan Strome, Johnny Boychuk and Cal Clutterbuck sat out the Tuesday games, though all three are expected back at practice on Thursday when the full group reconvenes . . . The Islanders lost both games on Tuesday, 5-2 to the Rangers and 4-0 to the Flyers. Jason Chimera and Nick Leddy had the goals in the Garden.