stepped on to the ice at Iceworks in Syosset with the first group of veterans this morning to open the first day of Islanders Training Camp. The two hour training session consisted of a lot of run of the mill drills that would help all the skaters get their feet under them and allow the coaches to get a feel for the players this year, but the most entertaining to watch was the final one-on-one drill set up inside the blue line.
Even though the Islanders first overall draft pick had a solid rookie season last year, he admitted he was still a little nervous stepping out onto the ice for the first time this season. Although, he’s really happy to be back and excited ready to get the season underway.
“It’s great, just being around the guys and being around the rink starting camp,” Tavares said. “I think we’re really excited about what we can accomplish this year and every time a new year begins you’re very optimistic. It’s just great to be around and get the feel back for this season.”
The dynamic forward just moved back to Long Island on Friday after spending his summer relaxing at home with his family in Mississauga, Ontario and continuing his training to help propel his game to the next level.
“I had some time off this summer compared to last summer,” Tavares said. “It was a little bit more laid back and I think that’s a great thing for me. I really focused on the things I need to get better at and I feel I’m at top shape to perform at a high level.”
Tavares said he really worked on improving his strength, conditioning and quickness on the ice as well as some of his finishing touches like working on his shot and crossovers. And now that training camp is here, he said, “So I was just working on the little things because you hope to make the transition and training camp is a great time now to kind of work those things into your game.”
The sophomore is really optimistic about this season. The team was really young last year so he knows everyone, including himself, will be coming in to this season with a bit more knowledge of the league. That experience can go a long way.
“From the guys coming back, we’ve got a lot more experience this year and we’re a little deeper. Our veteran presence is still there and we have great prospects with a lot of skill coming up that are going to push guys up here. So it’s great to see. It’s going to be real competitive and I think everyone is excited for that.”
Speaking of the prospects, Tavares thought the Islanders fifth overall pick, Nino Niederreiter
, and the other young prospects Kirill Kabanov
and Tony Romano
, looked pretty well out on the ice.
He said, “They fit right in. I think the first couple days were good for them and I’m sure they’re a little nervous. I’m sure they’re a little anxious to be out there with us today, but they look good, so I think they are going to do well.”
Tavares is destined to have a great season. Even though he is entering his second year in the National Hockey League, he didn’t look like a sophomore forward in his first day of training camp and his nerves definitely didn’t get the best of him.
Welcome back JT, the Island is excited to have you.