Lou Lamoriello readily admits a significant portion of the Islanders’ roster is set, barring injury, even before training camp opens. But the president/general manager is leaving open the possibility, however slim, a young player could emerge from this week’s development camp to challenge for a role.
The camp, which will include players on entry level contracts as well as drafted players still in junior hockey, opens with physicals on Wednesday. There will be on-ice sessions Thursday through Sunday and a final one on Tuesday.
The first on-ice session of the Islanders’ main camp is Sept. 21.
“You have to be very careful with training camp and exhibition games and all of that has to come into your evaluations of what you do,” Lamoriello said on Monday at his pre-camp news conference at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
“Exhibition games, you’re usually playing against 60% — maybe 70% — of the rosters that you’ll see on opening night. But you find out what they can and can’t do and how close they are. Unfortunately, these days, you rush them a little bit and you have to hold back because you’re always looking for something better.”
The Islanders’ six-game preseason schedule opens on Sept. 26 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders will enter training camp with both goalie positions, five of the likely seven defense spots and 13 of the likely 14 forward spots already filled.
But there are some intriguing prospects who could vie for playing time. William Dufour, a 6-2, 215-pound wing who played one game for the Islanders last season and had 21 goals and 27 assists in 69 games for the organization’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, is one.
“He had a good year and there’s lots of room for improvement,” said Rick Kowalsky, entering his first season as Bridgeport’s coach after two seasons as an assistant.
Predecessor Brent Thompson ran the development camp on-ice sessions in the past.
Among the other forward candidates are speedy Ruslan Iskhakov, who had 17 goals and 34 assists for Bridgeport last season; Matthew Maggio, a fifth-round pick in 2022 who ended the season with Bridgeport; and Eetu Liukas, a fifth-round pick in 2021 who has yet to play in North America.
Swede Calle Odelius, a second-round pick in 2022; Isaiah George, a fourth-round pick in 2022; and Aidan Fulp and Travis Mitchell, both signed after completing their NCAA careers last season, lead the defense prospects.