Doug Weight's retirement this summer left the Islanders' captaincy vacant, but the 40-year-old veteran expects leadership from the team's youth regardless of his successor.
"We're going to need a level of leadership from our young guys," said Weight, who is now an Islanders assistant coach and Senior Advisor to GM Garth Snow. "They need to take strides verbally, in their work ethic, game in and game out, their consistency."
The two leading candidates to wear the "C" for the Islanders appear to be Swiss defenseman Mark Streit and 23-year-old forward Kyle Okposo. But, whoever earns the nod will need a strong supporting cast as well.
Weight believes there are plenty of worthy candidates among the team's emerging, young core of players such as John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald.
"It's a good problem to have," Weight said. "When you have so many young players who are not only skilled, but have great work ethic and care a lot. We have a lot of guys that could fit into that [leadership] structure."
Streit is not a young pistol anymore -- he turned 34 in December -- but he is a sturdy veteran with experience, maturity and an understated, steadying presence.
"He's in great shape, he has great character and he's our top guy in terms of minutes," Weight said. "He's very well-respected in the room."
Streit has 11 years on Okposo, the Islanders' home-grown power forward drafted in 2006, but Weight said he doesn't think Okposo's age should be prohibitive.
"That's not a concern I have with Kyle," Weight said. "When there are guys that are 18, 19 years old, then yeah, let them play, live their life and adapt into their growing sense of independence. But Kyle is going into his fourth NHL season."
The issue, which will likely be decided during training camp, has been discussed by Weight, Snow and head coach Jack Capuano throughout the summer. Weight said he has given his input but is kepping his lips sealed.
"I'm sure I'll be asked [again]," Weight said, "but I've put in my two cents."