The transition from junior hockey to the NHL is rarely an easy one, even for a highly touted draft pick like Michael Dal Colle of the New York Islanders.
Dal Colle got his first taste of life in the NHL Tuesday afternoon when he skated at the Nassau Coliseum during Day 1 of the Islanders’ summer mini-camp.
“I was definitely pretty anxious coming in,” Dal Colle admitted after his first session on the Coliseum ice. “We got it out of the way and it was kind of a load off my shoulders.”
Dal Colle spent a little more than hour on the ice along with the rest of the Islanders’ younger players and prospects who were divided into two groups that both received instruction from Isles’ coach Jack Capuano and his staff.
“I think the coaching staff sent the message, if you want to be a pro, you have to excel in all aspects,” Dal Colle told reporters after his time on the ice. “They told us that work ethic is what separates you if you want to play in the NHL and that was the main thing I got from it today.”
It was also a time for the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft to get to know his teammates and Long Island itself. “This is my first time here it’s definitely new,” Dal Colle said. “I don’t know too much about Long Island. I don’t know much about the facilities so I’m just trying to see what it’s all about and that’s definitely a good part of it.”
The rookie said a trip to the beach and to see “American Idol Live” were among the activities planned by the team for Dal Colle and his fellow camp attendees.
Like most NHL rookies, Dal Colle knows he needs to work on a few things before he’s ready to play in the NHL. “Junior is pretty fast but obviously you’re playing against men right now,” Dal Colle said. “Guys are bigger, faster, stronger, you can definitely see that for sure…Me, I know I have to get stronger if I want to play [in the NHL], so that’s the biggest thing for me.”
When he is ready for the NHL, Dal Colle should provide the Islanders with some skill and scoring punch on the wing. Last year, the Vaughan, Ontario, native scored 39 goals and 95 points in 67 games for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. He added another eight goals and 20 points in 12 playoff games.
So the learning has begun for Dal Colle, with a lot more to come before the start of the new season in October. So far, the rookie is taking it all in and enjoying the process. “It’s been great. I don’t know too many guys here so I’m trying to get familiar with my surroundings, but it all went well.”