The New York Islanders had a very successful Blue and Orange Scrimmage going Saturday morning at the Nassau Coliseum filled with solid play and some encouraging signs. But late in the third period, the Isles lost their top defenseman, Mark Streit, to a shoulder injury when he was accidentally pinned against the boards by Matt Moulson.
Streit was later seen leaving the Coliseum with a sling on his shoulder. He is expected to be evaluated further on Monday when more information will be made available about his condition. With the season just two week away, the Islanders have to hope the injury is not serious. Streit is the Isles’ top defenseman and a key to the team’s power play.
Here are some observations from the scrimmage:
Before Streit’s injury, the defense pairing of Streit and James Wisniewski looked very good. The two seem to complement each other well and they were put out on the power play together in addition to their regular shift. Wisniewski showed a better shot than advertised and made some strong passes. He also played good positional defense. This pairing has good potential.
John Tavares looks very confident entering his second season. He seems to have picked up his game a notch after one year in the league. While it may be asking a lot to have him emulate Steven Stamkos’ goal total, an improvement to 30 goals and perhaps 75-80 points is not out of the question. The future looks bright for JT.
Rob Schremp continued to show flashes of his incredible offensive ability. Schremp scored a goal and made some plays on the power play that show what he is capable of doing with the puck. The question for Schremp is consistency and whether or not he can play a complete game. Expect Schremp to do a lot on the second power play unit this season.
Rick DiPietro looked solid out there and (dare I say it) finally appears healthy. The crowd’s stomach was in their throats when DP awkwardly dove for a loose puck and didn’t get it, not so much because the play could have resulted in a goal (it didn’t) but because the play looked so much like the one that resulted in DiPietro’s concussion against Montreal a few years ago. A healthy DP would make a big difference for the Islanders this season. While any verdict on DiPietro has to be tempered with extreme caution, the Isles’ franchise goalie looks good so far.
Blake Comeau appears ready to pick up where he left off late last season. Comeau scored twice in the scrimmage and played well on a line with Tavares and P.A. Parenteau. The Islanders need consistent goal scoring. If Comeau can provide 20 goals this season, it will be a big help for the Islanders. If he keeps playing like this, that goal may be reachable.
Nino Niederreiter, the team’s top choice in this year’s draft, does not look out of place. Niederreiter saw time on the penalty kill and took a regular shift, making some solid plays. He picked up an assist on Zenon Konopka’s first period goal. The thing is, unless he is one of the club’s top six forwards, it may be counterproductive for the Isles to keep Niederreiter in the NHL for a season. Garth Snow has a decision to make. NN has the size to compete in the NHL, but is that what’s best for him at this stage in his career?
Calvin de Haan showed good skills on the blueline, especially on the power play. The Isles have eight defensemen on one-way contracts, so it is not clear they have room for de Haan on the NHL roster. Still, it is clear de Haan continues to progress and he is getting closer to becoming a bona fide NHL defenseman.
It was a good sign for Trent Hunter to score twice for the Islanders. Hunter hasn’t been healthy in such a long time and the Isles can use his experience and any offense he may be able to contribute.
While he doesn’t look flashy, Andrew MacDonald had a solid scrimmage for the Islanders.
Kyle Okposo (sore shoulder) and Doug Weight (general body soreness) did not dress for the Islanders.