Alright...here is my attempt to revive a blog that I lost a few weeks ago. It's my own fault really. I wrote a blog of about maybe six paragraphs about three players I thought fans might want to keep an eye on throughout the year, to hit submit on the tab and realize that my connection to the wireless router was lost. Just freakin' dandy.
So here we go, with a little added extra.
The Islanders pre-season is under way, so far with the Isles having one loss under their belt to the Edmonton Oilers. I didn't get to watch much, but it seemed like they played a relatively decent game. It is important to keep in mind that this is what they call the "pre-season." So if Tavares lights up every goaltender (or even if he doesn't for that matter), or if the Isles win the rest of their games going into the regular season, it means one thing and one thing only: diddly squat.
These games are to test line combos, give the youngsters a taste of NHL hockey, and shake off the rust for the vets that haven't played since last year. Don't believe me? About five years ago the Isles went 7-0 in the pre-season to start the regular season about 5 games below .500.
With all of that being said, here are three prospects that I think may eventually crack the Isles line-up this year.
Last year he managed to get seven games under his belt with the Islanders, registering 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points. He spent almost the entire year in Bridgeport, playing in 71 games and accumulating 20 goals, 19 assists, for 39 points at +22. Not too shabby. Keep in mind that he is 6'4 and 207 pounds. With his size and frame he could eventually develop into the power forward the Islanders need. He showed on occasion that he has the tools to make this happen. Since he has now played a year of pro-hockey, he should have almost completely adjusted to the North American game. If I had to choose one player to make the line-up unexpectedly straight from the pre-season, it would be Jesse. However, the roster seems all but set. Therefore, barring an injury, I expect him to start in the AHL. But don't be surprised if he is the player the organization calls about first when a spot opens up.
Now, I am not a pro-scout and have never seen this kid play. All I know is that he managed to earn a three-year entry level contract with the New York Islanders and finished last season with the Sound Tigers, appearing in 3 games and scoring 1 goal in the playoffs. However, with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, Justin has put up 93 points in each of his last two seasons. In 2008 he played in 58 games, scoring 39 goals and 54 assists, and in 2009 he played in 62 games, scoring 45 goals and 48 assists. Keep in mind he wasn't playing with Steven Stamkos last year either. With all of that being said, many scouts still seem to think he is a long-shot at the NHL and may not ever be able to be the player he was at Sarnia. It's very possible, I mean look at Jon Sim. In 3 seasons from 1996-1998 in the OHL, Sim put up 102, 95, and 94 points respectively. Where did that go?
Still, I'd like to think that DiBenedetto isn't Jon Sim and can hopefully bring his game to the Islanders. I expect him to get a few games here and there to give a look-see for the coaching staff if the injuries pile up throughout the year. Other than that, he'll probably be an AHL main stay until next year at the least.
He was a very interesting case this summer. He held out for a while, wanting that three-year entry level deal. Well now he got it and it's time for him to prove that he's worth it. Chris Botta had a blog where he quoted Martin saying that he feels he's ready to make it to the NHL and that it is his ultimate goal. That's always encouraging to hear, but making it happen is a completely different story. Last year with Sarnia he put up 65 points in 61 games but also tallied 142 penalty minutes. Hopefully he'll mature a little bit this year with Bridgeport. Like DiBenedetto, I don't really expect to see him in an Islanders uniform unless they need to call up a kid to get his feet wet when a roster spot opens up.
On defense I don't really have anyone besides a notable mention of Dustin Kohn. He has been in the Islanders system for some time now and still has yet to make the jump. If the blue line wears thin he may get a look. Same for Mark Katic. But both of them still appear to be some time away from the big leagues.
This is just me spit-balling my predictions of who we may see go in and out of the line up. Considering last year's injuries piled hire than the beacon of light you would be able to see from the Lighthouse (if it gets built, that is) I think it's fair game to expect anything. Speaking of injuries, Doug Weight and Sean Bergenheim already out with groin problems? Nielsen having his right knee looked at? Didn't last season end?