Very little is set in stone on Day 2 of training camp, but there are indications of what may become reality. One strong possibility for the Islanders is Zach Parise skating on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s wing.
The two have been together for the first two days of on-ice sessions at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow and likely will be linemates to start the preseason. The first of the Islanders’ six preseason games is Sunday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
"Intelligent, veteran players that play on both sides of the puck," coach Barry Trotz said on Friday. "I think that’s where we figured we would start. There’s no certainty. When you say it’s a good fit, I don’t quite know that it’s a good fit. It feels like it’s going to be a good fit."
Parise, 37, agreed to a one-year deal with the Islanders after the Wild bought out the final four seasons of his 13-year, $98 million deal. At his best, he is tenacious around the crease. A significant portion of his 393 career goals in 1,060 games for the Wild and Devils have come at close range.
It’s not likely that he’ll be asked to provide top-line minutes, as he was in Minnesota. But his forechecking should complement Pageau’s tenacity centering the third line.
"I guess we’ll see how the lines are going to be," Pageau told Newsday on Thursday. "But I’d be lucky to have him as a linemate. I remember playing against him, how hard he competes, shift after shift. He’s a smart player that gives everything every night. That’s the leadership he brings."
Parise sounds eager for the opportunity to skate with Pageau.
"From playing against him, you recognize just a smart hockey player," Parise said. "He plays well with the puck, without the puck. I think he supports his wingers very well and carries the puck well in the neutral zone. He makes life pretty easy for wingers."
Trotz seemingly does not have many lineup decisions to make among his top 12 forwards heading into the season opener on Oct. 14 at Carolina.
He must settle on a top-line right wing to skate with Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee. He must settle on which two wings skate on Pageau’s line. If Matt Martin (ankle) is unable to play at the start of the season, Trotz must fill out the identity line, which includes Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck.
Notes & quotes: Trotz said he plans to give Lee, who suffered a season-ending torn right anterior cruciate ligament on March 11, a typical veteran’s workload of three or four preseason games. However, Trotz said he probably won’t play in the early preseason games to allow him more time to build confidence in his knee through practice . . . Martin (ankle), goalie Semyon Varlamov (soreness) and defense prospect Samuel Bolduc (soreness) remained absent for a second straight day. All three are believed to be skating on their own.