Ryan Strome's busy summer began in June, when the Islanders selected him fifth overall in the NHL draft. Even after the fanfare of that faded, Strome was a busy teenager, all the way to the beginning of the team's rookie camp Saturday.
"It was definitely busy," he said after 46 Islanders draftees, prospects and minor-leaguers assembled at Nassau Coliseum for their first practice. "Now I just want to try and make myself a better player and be ready for whatever comes next."
Strome attended the team's rookie mini-camp in July, turned 18 the following week and then went to the Canadian World Junior team camp in early August, where he was with several players who were drafted above and below him.
In between, Strome spent time training in the company of another talented young player -- John Tavares. Both are from outside of Toronto and Tavares, the first overall pick two years ago, was a benefit for Strome just by his presence.
"To see the pro atmosphere like he has, he's a veteran in the league now and one of the top players," Strome said. "It wasn't too long ago that he was where I am now, so it's good to be able to look up to him, see his work ethic and try to learn from that."
Strome is a sure bet to make it through this week-long camp, which includes games against a team of Bruins' rookies and prospects Monday and Tuesday at the Coliseum (only Tuesday's game is open to fans), and participate in the full training camp, which begins on Saturday.
But the Islanders are looking for more than just the big-name, high draft picks to join the full camp.
"We've told them that these games are very important, the compete level's got to be at a high, their desperation and their determination to play at a high level," coach Jack Capuano said. "We plan on giving guys a long look."
Strome is still not signed, though that isn't quite so important yet, given his remote chances of making the team -- if the Islanders don't keep him, Strome will go back to Niagara, his junior club in the Ontario Hockey League.
But he still has a chance to show the Islanders that his busy summer has paid off. That begins Monday, with games that will be closely evaluated by the staff. "It's a good chance to prove myself," Strome said. "We're playing against some good players and you can compare yourself against some other talented guys."
Notes & quotes: D Anton Klementyev was not at camp after traveling to Russia for the funeral of several close friends who were killed in Wednesday's plane crash. Klementyev, who has played the last two seasons for Bridgeport, played for Lokomotiv before he was drafted . . . G Kevin Poulin (knee surgery) practiced Saturday and said he has no restrictions on playing or practicing for camp.