By Daniel Friedman
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It’s been a solid preseason for the Islanders, who’ve won both games at Barclays Center and lost a split-squad contest with the Flyers in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Though the opening night roster is probably all but set in stone given the evidence, there are still some intriguing storylines and it’s nice to see some younger players — both cooked and raw — making strides.
Here’s what’s on my mind:
Folks are all aboard the Kirill Petrov hype train, especially since he played well in his first preseason skirmish.
I would say that while his performance was encouraging, it was still only one game, and it was a split-squad game against a team that’s poor defensively even when it boasts a full NHL-caliber lineup.
Petrov is also transitioning to the North American style of play, which does take time. Even though he does appear to be adapting well, which is fantastic, I’d like to see him do it a couple more times before I say he’s ready.
If not for those two factors, I might be more inclined to use that first game as an indication he’s good to go. I’m not saying he isn’t, I’m not saying he is. I’m saying that it’s too soon to know.
I also don’t like the idea of him sitting in the press box, so unless he’s unseating any of the 12 forwards in the lineup, it’s probably best for him to go to Bridgeport where at least he’ll play every night and he’ll be able to take on a bigger role. If and when an opportunity presents itself, the Islanders can call him up. He doesn’t need to clear waivers.
The addition of Marek Zidlicky makes it very difficult for Ryan Pulock to make this team out of training camp, unless he’s the seventh defenseman, or unless Zidlicky or Thomas Hickey becomes the extra, which I wouldn’t expect.
Like Petrov, and as I’ve stressed with several young players before him, Pulock’s better off playing every night in Bridgeport. Waivers isn’t a factor, so you don’t need to worry about him being snapped up if you try to recall him. I think if Pulock is good enough and can help the Islanders now, they should make room for him. If he still has things to work on and isn’t quite ready, that’s a different story.
Either way, I think you’ll see him with the Islanders at some point this season, and depending on what happens next, it may be permanent. Time will tell.
New Kids Impress
Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier have both been sharp, and though they’ve still got plenty to work on, you can see that both have the tools to be good players down the road. By contrast, Griffin Reinhart would probably be third — behind Pulock and Scott Mayfield — in the competition for a roster spot on defense. He was passed by on the depth chart, and that’s just become more and more evident.
Anders Lee Thriving in Shotgun Position
How comfy does he look on John Tavares’ wing? It’s like they picked up where they left off last season. Actually, the chemistry between the two looks even stronger. Ryan Strome’s been solid on the opposite wing, too.
Kyle Okposo on the second line? I wouldn’t have expected it, but maybe it’s in the cards. Maybe they’re seeing just how well he can play without Tavares (my take: very), before they explore further contract talks or trade discussions.
Kane Situation Puts Ho-Sang’s In Perspective
There’s been a lot of hate-mail sent Ho-Sang’s way ever since he overslept and was dismissed on the first day of training camp. He does have a lesson to learn, and he does need to grow up, but people are talking about him like he’s already a bust, like he’s Kirill Kabanov.
First, he’s not Kabanov, because he actually has hockey sense. In fact, he has phenomenal hockey sense. Kabanov’s all flash, Ho-Sang is flash and vision.
Second, you want to talk about a problematic player? Look at Patrick Kane, and what’s going on in his life right now. I don’t care how many Stanley Cups he has helped the Chicago Blackhawks win or that he may very well win a scoring title or two before he hangs up his skates. I’d never want him in my locker room. Ever.
Kane turns 27 in November. He is not a problem child; he’s a problem adult. At an age when most of us tend to start figuring things out or are continuing our path into the “real world,” Kane is thought of by many as that immature high schooler who goes around town egging houses on Halloween.
On the flipside, Ho-Sang is 19. Many of us are immature at that age. We’re partying on college campuses and making good on that last chance to be teenagers. We’re young and stupid.
Ho-Sang made a mistake. He’s made a few. But he’s 19, for crying out loud. He’ll grow up.
I’m not worried about this. What would worry me is if he was nearly 27 and still having issues. That’s when it’s a serious problem. This? This can be fixed.
Follow Dan on Twitter at @DFriedmanOnNYI