According to Greg Logan over at Newsday and the Islanders Official Release today, the team has trimmed their roster down to 23-players by assigning several players to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. This isn’t surprising as the NHL deadline for rosters is tomorrow (Wednesday 10/8). The part that is surprising to many is how 2008 1st round draft pick Josh Bailey remains with the team.
Logan had this to say today on this very subject:
In a bit of a surprise, Islanders first-round draft pick Josh Bailey was named to the 23-man NHL roster, released by the club moments ago.
Why keep him if not to play him? Under NHL rules, Bailey can play nine games and still remain eligible to return to his junior team. Since he only made two exhibition appearances, the Islanders might want to take a longer look before making a decision on where he spends the rest of the season.
Obviously, the plan is to give Bailey a few games at the NHL level to really see how he is doing – as he hasn’t had all too much time on the ice for the Islanders during the preseason. Checking in on Bailey’s stats (only last nights game had any stats recorded), he has accumulated 17:37 minutes of ice time, he is -1 and has zero shots on goal. Some call it a PR move, but others may see the value in giving a talented young player some ice-time before he heads back down to juniors. If anything, it will motivate Bailey that much more during his time in juniors and he will work even harder at getting ready for the Islanders.
In other non-Bailey news, sticking to a plan nobody would see as being necessary last season, Garth Snow has also kept eight defenseman on according to Logan – including rookies Jack Hillen and Brett Skinner. Obviously, with injuries to the defensive corps before the season even began (Chris Campoli and Andy Sutton), having the extra bodies on the back end cannot hurt. This is compounded even further by the strong play of both Hillen and Skinner.
With almost five days between their final preseason game and their season opener on the road in New Jersey on Friday, Coach Scott Gordon is likely pouring over tape and finalizing the lineup. This is also a great time for the players to work with who they will be paired with – another positive.
According to Chris Botta on his Brand Spankin’ New Blog – Islanders Point Blank, these are likely the lines we are to see on Friday:
Jon Sim – Doug Weight – Bill Guerin
Jeff Tambellini – Frans Nielsen – Trent Hunter
Mike Comrie – Richard Park – Andy Hilbert
Sean Bergenheim – Josh Bailey – Kyle Okposo
Brendan Witt – Radek Martinek
Jack Hillen – Mark Streit
Freddy Meyer – Bruno Gervais
Thomas Pock – Brett Skinner
Rick DiPietro – Joey MacDonald
There are a few things that need to happen by Friday if the Islanders are to open the season with a win in New Jersey. Stick to Gordon’s system, control the flow, generate chances and capitalize on the power play. Oh, and one last thing – DiPietro needs to somehow find his MoJo, and fast.