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This past week the New York Islanders and their rookies took the ice to see who will make this year’s team. As reported earlier in the summer, Evgeni Nabokov indeed arrived to training camp after leaving the team hanging last year.
This year Islander fans will most likely see Nino Niederreiter on the ice. Niederreiter was chosen by the Islanders in the first round of the 2010 Entry Draft, yet only saw nine games before his rookie contract would kick in. This year, Niederreiter looks ready to go. This year’s first round pick, Ryan Strome has also been a key aspect at camp. Niederreiter and Strome shared a line and showed instant chemistry during training camp. Justin DiBenedetto, who saw a short amount of ice time in the 2010 season with the Islanders, is also getting a shot at fame once again.
Training camp is not just for rookies. Jay Pandolfo of the New Jersey Devils also attended the training camp this year. Pandolfo spend his first 14 years in the NHL with the Devils. Evgeni Nabakov shared the ice with Rick DiPietro, Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin as well. Following camp, the rookies and vets split into two, and followed up with a scrimmage game. Nabakov reported to have had a lot of fun with the Islanders.
Every year, the Islanders battle the Boston Bruins rookies in a back to back series. After a rocky start in the first game of the series in Boston, the Islanders returned home in front of a packed Nassau Coliseum crowd to wow the critics. The Islanders managed to defeat the defending champs rookie squad 7-2. The starting goalie for the Islanders was Swedish-born rookie Anders Nillson. Nillson saved 38 shots of the 40 taken. Other standout players were none other than Ryan Strome and Niederreiter. The two had a combined three goals and three assists in the last game of the series. The chemistry between the two could be a key factor if they end up on the Islanders’ main roster.
The Islanders are proving that this year could be their break out year. John Tavares has just signed a six-year deal worth $5.5 million a year. Josh Bailey held out to the final moments to sign a two-year extension. Other players inked up are Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, PA Parenteu, Michael Grabner and Al Montoya. One of the Islanders problems in the past years were not signing their talent and letting them go. This could be the change the Islanders are looking for and it could be a great year for them.