Barry Trotz and company have a lot of roster considerations to mull over halfway through the New York Islanders preseason.
Though the roster stands at 43, the players aren’t making it easy for New York Islanders‘ management to dictate who stays and who goes.
A 3-0 shutout win on Sept. 16 had the Islanders feeling good to shake off some rust from a long summer and left both Trotz and the team feeling satisfied.
The day after, the Islanders dropped a 3-1 loss to the Flyers and followed that up with a 5-1 loss in Brooklyn. Since then, they have won three-straight preseason games with wins over the Flyers, Devils, and Rangers.
There are just two more preseason games remaining before Trotz and Lou Lamoriello decide who earned their spot in the bigs and who needs more seasoning.
Standing at 4-2-0 so far through six games, the Islanders are adjusting well to their new coaches and playing style. After back-to-back losses due to what Trotz dismissed as fatigue from a rigorous week of camp, the Islanders posted a shutout and allowed just two goals in each their following games.
The veterans have heated up in the last couple of games — Anders Lee has two goals in each of his last two games, Jordan Eberle has five assists and Josh Bailey had a three-point night against the Rangers.
Cory Wright of NHL.com asked Beauvillier about the experience of playing on his line:
“You guys have no idea how smart he is on the ice,” Beauvillier said. “It’s just so easy to play with him, he’s always in the right spot and always puts the puck in the right position… He does everything right and that’s exactly what we need, a leader like him taking on more responsibility.”
Beauvillier had a pair of goals against the Rangers on Bailey’s line and is looking more confident with each passing game. Now entering his third year in the HNL, Beau is looking forward to bearing some of the responsibility imparted upon the team this offseason.
There are plenty of rookies who are looking to make big impressions in the Islanders forward group, and an opportunity may have opened for a lengthy stay.
Ladd’s point production as an Islander has left a lot to be desired, and Kieffer Bellows is one of the forwards vying for the vacancy in the lineup. Through four preseason games, Bellows has two goals and three points.
“Kieffer’s been really good. He has good instincts. Especially on the power play. He’s got really good hands and he shoots the puck to score. A really good young player and he continues to produce every game.” –#Isles Head Coach Barry Trotz pic.twitter.com/XYC1wmE3In
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 21, 2018
Devon Toews has been another notable standout among the crop of Isles defensemen and is the leading candidate to start on opening night. The 24-year-old played just 30 AHL games last season after a season-ending injury which also ruined a chance for an NHL call-up late last season.
Andrew Gross of Newsday asked Trotz about the impression Toews has made during camp:
“He’s an engaging player,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Obviously his skating stands out. He’s got some ability to get around the ice. He supports the attack pretty well defending-wise. That mobility allows him to defend pretty well so he’s making a case for himself.”
In goal, both Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner have been performing with renewed vigor. In his first full start, Greiss turned aside 27 shots and allowed only two goals for the victory against the Rangers. Prior to Saturday’s contest, Greiss had 25 saves through two shutout periods against the Devils.
Lehner made 25 saves of his own in his full start against the Flyers after a rough outing in the 5-1 loss at the Barclays Center.
Prior to their contest against the Rangers, the Islanders assigned 18 players to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers including Long Island native Ryan Hitchcock, Mitch Vande Sompel and David Quenneville.
The Islanders face the Rangers once this Wednesday, Sept. 26 before the preseason concludes against the Sabres in Buffalo on Sep. 28.