BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Saturday was a night for the youngsters on the Islanders, who didn’t bring many veterans here for a preseason game with the Capitals. There isn’t a lot of room on the roster for the Isles’ prospects, but the high-end ones have impressed the organization to varying degrees since camp began.
Most eyes have been on Mathew Barzal, the 15th pick in the 2015 draft. The dynamic center nearly made the team last fall in his first pro camp; with a real opportunity at hand this year the coaches are seeing what Barzal brings in addition to his incredible skill.
“I know what he can do offensively. That’s not what this is about,” Jack Capuano said of Barzal, who played his third preseason game on Saturday. “If he wants to fit in and crack the team, it’s his play away from the puck and to earn trust between a coach and a player. How reliable is he going to be to the coaches and his teammates.”
And Anthony Beauvillier, the 28th pick in 2015, has perhaps been the best camper. He led all forwards in ice time on Saturday, had an assist and has shown a willingness to do whatever he needs to get noticed, even though at 19 he’s likely headed back to Shawinigan of the Quebec League.
“He reminds me of Casey (Cizikas) a lot,” Capuano said. “A hard-working kid, got a great engine. He doesn’t stop, he goes to the dirty areas. He does everything you ask him to do and that’s what you want to see.”
There were two other forwards on the Webster Bank Arena ice Saturday who were recent first-round picks. Michael Dal Colle, the fifth overall pick in 2014, and Josh Ho-Sang, the 28th pick that year, have graduated up a level — they’ll be pros when camp ends, whether with the big club or here with the Sound Tigers.
The second option is most likely for both Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, the latter of whom has shown plenty of confidence on the ice and a needed quiet off of it after he was dismissed from camp last September for oversleeping on the first day.
“Ho-Sang, from a discipline standpoint he’s done everything we’ve asked of him,” Capuano said. “On the ice, there’s no doubt he’s a dynamic player. A high skill level, he’s still learning the play away from the puck, like all young players with that skill level, same as Barzy. But he’s learning.”
Notes & quotes: J-F Berube made 27 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Caps. Anders Lee had the lone Isles goal.