Islanders announce Opening Night Roster, include touted Rookies
The Islanders have announced their opening night roster for the 2013-'14 season and will carry three rookies: Brock Nelson, Matt Donovan and Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart is the surprise for the opening night roster, but she should get plenty of ice time over that span, as alluded to earlier, with the Travis Hamonic injury. The 2012 4th overall pick will begin the year on Long Island and is likely to begin the year on a 2nd or third line pair, so you could see him with a Visnovsky or Andrew MacDonald, but likely not Brian Strait...Final pairs are yet to be announced, and will be available at game time against New Jersey on the 4th.
Donovan enters as the heir presumptive to the departed Mark Streit. He collected 92 points in the AHL over the last two seasons and is ready to join the team. he'll play solidly and may, by virtue of the Hamonic Injury, begin the year paired with Brian Strait to creat the "home and away" D pair where Strait stays back and Donovan joins the rush. Donovan tied Justin Schultz (who is absolutely ridiculous) for the AHL Defensive scoring lead last year. He'll take the anchor on the second PP unit, which can use all the help it can get.
Brock Nelson showed he was more than capable last year in making his debut in the playoffs against the Penguins. as soon as I saw Kris Letang, a Norris Candidate (somehow), throw a hit towards Nelson and literally bounce off, I knew his time in the AHL was over. Nelson spent last year adjusting to pro hockey to the tune of 52 points in 66 games, including 25 goals. This year he'll start (probably) on a line with Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard as a sort of scoring/Energy line where Nelson can throw some hits and create lanes...or get in a goalies face. I'm excited that he's made the team, the looming question mark with Nelson is what happens when Cal Clutterbuck returns from injury, will nelson slide to C and force out Regin or will another player (Colin McDonald?) be pushed out of the lineup?
Without further ado, your opening night lineup:
Matt Moulson-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey-Frans Neilsen-Michael Grabner
Brock Nelson-Peter Regin-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Colin McDonald
Scratch: Eric Boulton
Brian Strait-Matt Donovan
Andrew MacDonald-Thomas Hickey
Lubomir Visnovsky-Griffin Reinhart
Scratches (to start): Matt Carkner, Travis Hamonic
No glaring omissions in the squad, there simply isn't a spot for Ryan Strome right now (he'll likely be on John Tavares' Wing), Kirrill Kabonov needs to have a breakout-like campaign in the AHL in order to be considered for a call up. The Ghost of Calvin de Haan likewise needs a breakout like campaign in the AHL to be considered for any Defensive openings (he currently trails Joe Finley, and who knows, maybe Aaron Ness as well in the call-up list). Guys who will also be under the microscope in Bridgeport will include Mike Halmo (should any additional injuries take place in the bottom 6), Scott Mayfield and Andrey Pedan (BIG Ds who doa little bit of everything), Johan Sundstrom and Anders Lee; that's a lot of rookie depth to call upon in case of injury, and all are big talents, even the guys in parenthesis. Also, Joe Finley was placed on waivers Yesterday and cleared, so he starts the year in Bridgeport. More on the Sound Tigers as their rosters finalize later this week. They also have announced Islanders players moving down to Stockton, but, again, we'll cover later.
As of publication, no new news on Travis Hamonic, so it's wait and see.