Officially, Stephen Gionta’s tryout with the Islanders starts on Sept. 22, the first day of training camp.
Unofficially, it started Tuesday, as Gionta hit the ice with what he hopes are his potential future teammates at an informal skate at Islanders Iceworks.
“I’m coming in and looking for an opportunity,” said Gionta, who signed a Professional Tryout with the Islanders on Monday. “I’m thankful that they extended the offer and I’ll try to make the most of it.”
Gionta, who has spent his entire NHL career close by with the New Jersey Devils, scoring 50 points (15G, 35A) in 270 career regular season games, wasted no time getting to Long Island. The goal is to find some chemistry before the coaches’ eyes are on him.
“To come in and skate with the guys and get to know some of them and get comfortable with the area and the surroundings, it’ll help the best it can.”
The Islanders currently have 14 forwards signed for the 2016-17 season, with Ryan Strome still unsigned. While the field is crowded heading into training camp, there’s a precedent set for PTO invitees to make the Islanders, as Steve Bernier turned a tryout into a one-year deal with the team last season.
Gionta described himself as an energetic forechecker and penalty killer. The 32-year-old had multiple PTO offers, but felt that his game meshed better with the Islanders, especially after seeing the team up close for the last four seasons.
“After playing against these guys for so long you get to know the style of play and I think it’ll help suit my game and hopefully it works out for the best.”