has found a home on the Islanders blue line. After attending camp on a tryout, Staios signed a one-year contract and has since been paired alongside the Islanders top defenseman, Captain Mark Streit
In the Islanders first four games, Staios has averaged just over 17 minutes a night including 2:39 of shorthanded time on ice per game. Though Staios has not yet found his way to the score sheet, the blue-liner has more of an offensive upside than Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano had initially realized.
“I really felt when (Staios) came in here, he was a real stay at home defenseman who blocked a lot of shots on the PK,” Capuano said. “But the more I watch him and the more he tries to play in our system, he’s got more offense than I expected. He sees the ice extremely well. He makes real good decisions, when to jump and when not to jump offensively.”
|Steve Staios skates against the Minnesota Wild on October 10, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) |
Streit saw Staios’ value right from the start of training camp. Adding more of a veteran presence in the locker room was a positive, but Streit also knew that Staios would help strengthen the Islanders defensive core.
“He’s skilled, he makes good passes and he’s got a great first pass, which is really important,” Streit said. “And he’s a great skater; these days that’s really important and I saw that right away.”
For the 38-year-old defenseman who was without an NHL contract prior to camp, Staios is glad to be back on a team where he can contribute on a nightly basis.
“I’ve found my role,” Staios said. “Coming in, I didn’t know where I would be, but through training camp it became more evident where I could most help the team. I just want to continue to build on that and continue to be reliable.”
Reliable is precisely the right word. Staios knows playing a strong defensive game will allow Streit to get up in the play and generate the scoring opportunities he’s known for.
“Playing with a guy with a lot of experience made it easier for me to get back into the game,” Streit said. “He’s strong defensively, he plays tough, he’s smart, he can skate and overall, he’s a really good defenseman.”
Just 60 games shy of his 1,000th career NHL game, one area that Staios would like to improve and be more of a contributor is on the Islanders penalty kill, an aspect of his game that has characterized his career.
“We are off to a decent start, but there are some things we want to tighten up,” Staios said. “We want to be a real force. Special teams are really important throughout the year and we want to have a real calm, steady improvement on that throughout the whole year.”
These veteran d-men complement each other well. Streit with a left shot and Staios with a right shot, they’ll continue to gain chemistry as they play together throughout the year.