Hockey is back! Just weeks away from the start of the 2008-09 season, the Islanders will open Training Camp on Saturday. Veterans, coaches and prospects will all head up to Moncton, New Brunswick, for a week of training, drills and exhibition games, in preparation for the new season.
Each player will have different expectations and goals heading into Camp—some are there to get in shape for the NHL season, while others will be working hard to earn an NHL or AHL spot with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Head Coach Scott Gordon will be the common denominator, teaching his style of play and system to all 59 players in attendance. It's a new experience for Gordon, who brings 14 years of Minor League coaching experience to the Islanders. Gordon is also largely unfamiliar with the roster and is heading into his first NHL camp with an open mind.
"Everyone will be evaluated and given an opportunity to succeed this year," said Gordon. "It’s their choice if they succeed or fail. It's a clean slate for everyone. What they were asked to do last year and in year's past is a little different than this year. We'll see who works together well."
The Islanders will take part in three exhibition games while in Canada. First, the Islanders celebrate their week in Moncton with an exhibition game at the Moncton Coliseum as they play host to the Boston Bruins. On Thursday, September 25, the Islanders play against the Philadelphia Flyers in London, Ontario. Then on September 27, the Islanders take on the Florida Panthers in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
While all of your favorite Islanders will be at Training Camp, here’s a look at a few of the goaltenders and defensemen to keep an eye out for. Goaltenders Yann Danis
Danis has played the last six seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. Last season he posted an 11-19-4 record while posting a .893 save percentage. He allowed 113 goals, equaling a 3.28 GAA. He appeared in six games for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2005-2006 season, going 3-2-0 in those games. He allowed 14 goals in those contests. Joey MacDonald
MacDonald split time between Bridgeport and the Islanders last season, playing in 38 games with the Sound Tigers, while appearing in two for the Islanders. He allowed 109 goals, while recording two shutouts. He had a record of 16-19-2, with a .909 save percentage, while posting a 2.89 goals against average. In his two games with the Islanders, he allowed six goals and had a record of 0-1-1 with a save percentage of .918. He earned himself a one-way NHL contract over the summer and will vie for the backup position behind Rick DiPietro
Mannino signed as a free agent this summer. Last season, he played in 40 games with Division I Denver, leading the team to a 25-14-1 record. Mannino recorded six shutouts, posted a .917 save percentage and had 2.27 goals against average, both of which were good for 20th overall in NCAA. He was one of only six goalies to record over 950 saves in D-1 and was named the 2007-08 Denver team MVP and “Star of the Year." Mannino also earned All-WCHA third-team honors and Lowes Senior CLASS Award first-team accolades, along with being named to the WCHA Final Five and Wells Fargo Denver Cup all-tournament teams. Kevin Poulin
Poulin was drafted by the Islanders in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Poulin spent last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Victoriaville. He recorded a .887 save percentage and had a goals against average of 3.69 in 52 games. His record was 18-24-3. Nathan Lawson
Last season, Lawson split time between the Utah Grizzlies and the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL. He played in 24 games for the Grizzlies, posting a 2.89 GAA, while holding a modest 14-7-1 record. He compiled a .906 save percentage in those games. In five games with the Roadrunners, Lawson went 3-2 with a 3.01 GAA, and compiled a .910 save percentage. Lawson is an unsigned Training Camp invitee. Defensemen Joe Callahan
In 65 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates, Callahan compiled one goal and 23 assists last season. He also shined in the playoffs, scoring one goal and tallying 11 assists in just 18 games. He had spent the prior two seasons with the San Antonio Rampage, notching two goals and 18 assists.Jamie Fraser
The speedy Fraser had a breakout season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2007-08. The Ontario-native bested all Sound Tigers defensemen in goals (11) and points (24). At only 22-years of age, Fraser has impressed the Bridgeport coaching staff over the past two seasons with his workman-like effort and his quick transitional play. Travis Hamonic
Hamonic was one of the Islanders' second-round draft selections in the 2008 Draft. He played last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, where he highlighted his talents as a true shutdown defenseman. In 61 games, he was 5-17-22 with 101 penalty minutes. He also played on Team Canada's Gold Medal-winning Under-18 IHF World Championship team, on which he tallied two assists and was +4. Jordan Hart
Last season, Hart played in 70 games for the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL, compiling nine assists. In 15 playoff games, he was able to score one goal and record two assists, for a total of 12 points for the season. He graduated from Merrimack College, and then played two seasons in the UHL. Hart is at Training Camp on a tryout basis. Jack Hillen
Hillen was a late-season free-agent acquisition. He skated in the final two games of the season, both versus the Rangers, and recorded his first NHL point in the season finale with an assist. He was also +1. Mark Katic
Katic was one of three Islanders prospects to play for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL last season. He played in 45 games with the Sting, recording five goals and 26 assists for 31 points. Each of those totals was good for second on the team amongst defensemen. He had a five-game point streak at one point, and continued to produce well in the playoffs, in which he contributed three assists in six games. Dustin Kohn
Kohn spent his first complete season with Bridgeport last year, and in 62 games scored three goals and had nine assists for 12 points. Kohn was tied for third in goals and fourth in points among defensemen with the Sound Tigers. He also had 28 penalty minutes. Simon Lacroix
Lacroix spent the 2007-08 season playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Shawinigan Cataractes. He was first in every major statistical category on the team for defensemen, with five goals, 29 assists and 34 points. He also won player of the week honors from November 19-25. Chris Lee
Last season, Lee played in 68 games with the Iowa Stars of the AHL, and was tied for the team lead among defensemen in goals (7), second in assists (21) and points (28). He notched two game-winning goals, a career high. In 2006-07, despite playing in just 37 games, Lee co-led Florida defensemen in scoring with 25 points. He also was twice named a SUNYAC Second Team All-American and was named SUNYAC First Team All-American during his senior season at SUNY Potsdam. Andrew MacDonald
After joining the Sound Tigers late in the 2006-07 season, MacDonald spent another abbreviated season in Bridgeport last year. In 21 games, he had two goals and three assists for five points. He also spent time with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL, scoring one goal and eleven assists in 38 regular season games. In the ECHL playoffs, however, MacDonald turned it up a notch, netting three goals and nine assists in only 15 games. Jyri Niemi
Niemi was drafted in the third round of this year's NHL Entry Draft. He finished first in goals (14) and third in assists (20) among WHL rookie defensemen last season. Additionally, he registered a 97 mph slap shot at the WHL skills competition prior to the draft. He also represented Saskatoon and the WHL at the 2008 CHL Top Prospects Game. Brett Skinner
Last season, Skinner played 68 games with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, scoring seven goals and 40 assists. He added one assist in the playoffs for 48 total points on the year. He played his college hockey at the University of Denver. Jared Spurgeon
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Spurgeon spent the 2007-08 season in the WHL with Spokane. Spurgeon was 12th in the league in points (43), and in the top 20 in assists (31) among defensemen. Spurgeon had two three-assist games, and was +36 on the season. Mark Streit
Streit has played the last three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens before being signed by the New York Islanders this past off season. The defenseman tallied 13 goals last season, playing in all but one game. He added 49 assists for a total of 62 points, both career highs. In the playoffs, Streit contributed with one goal and three assists in 11 contests. Click here
to watch IslandersTV video from Scott Gordon's media scrum at Rookie Camp earlier this week.