Shortened roster may be an option
BY ALAN HAHN
October 3, 2005
Justin Papineau found himself caught in a numbers crunch on the
Islanders' roster, and the 25-year-old winger slipped through waivers
and now is with the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Next up in the numbers crunch could be Sean Bergenheim and Petteri
Nokelainen, although because the two still are in their entry-level
contracts, they do not have to go through waivers. If they are sent
down, it would be motivated by the bottom line, not performances.
The Islanders can keep a 23-man roster, which they have now, to open
the regular season Wednesday in Buffalo. But in order to eventually
open up some "wiggle room" under the $39-million cap (the team is
about $500,000 under), and to avoid having to sit young players as
healthy scratches in lieu of veterans, there is a thought that they
might opt to go to 21 players.
Moving the two would provide more ice time for them to develop in the
minors and also save the Islanders almost $1.9 million against the
Coach Steve Stirling has been extra pleased with the effort both
Bergenheim, 21, and Nokelainen, 19, have given as fourth-line
grinders. But in the new NHL, laden with special-teams play, there is
debate as to how often a fourth line will be used. Nokelainen saw two
shifts in the preseason finale against the Rangers.
When veteran Arron Asham returns from a rib strain, he will join a
line with versatile center Shawn Bates and tough guy Eric Godard.
Bergenheim undoubtedly would go to Bridgeport and await a recall, but
Nokelainen might decide to return to his pro team, SaiPa, in Finland.
If he does, the Islanders won't see him again until next training
Notes & quotes: Stirling moved rookie winger Robert Nilsson back with
Alexei Yashin and Miroslav Satan for yesterday morning's
practice . . . It was an open practice for season ticket-holders,
which produced a turnout of almost 2,000. Players signed autographs
Radio: WBBR (1130)
ISLES DARE TO DREAM
By EVAN GROSSMAN
October 3, 2005 -- Perhaps owner Charles Wang put it best when he
said there is a certain "magic" about this Islanders team and that
winning a Stanley Cup is very much the mission of this season's
There is an unquestionable positive mental attitude emanating from
the Islanders this year and, after going through training camp and a
seven-game exhibition schedule, Cup talk may not be all that
outrageous in Uniondale.
A bit premature? Yes. But the Islanders open the 2005-06 season on
Wednesday with as much optimism that's surrounded them in years. The
bar has been raised.
Michael Peca was traded to Edmonton in as much of a salary slash as
it was a cleaning of the dressing room. GM Mike Milbury plucked out
players he believed stood in Alexei Yashin's way of becoming a
dominant player again. Milbury made no secret during the summer free-
agent frenzy that the table was set for Yashin to succeed.
The table's been set for all of them, really. Now it's finally time
to see who the hungry ones are.
FORWARDS The New NHL is going to reward speed and skill, and the
Isles have plenty up front. Should the league continue to outlaw
clutching and grabbing, the forwards will flourish.
Jason Blake should continue to improve, Yashin will only get better
playing with a sniper like Miroslav Satan and Mark Parrish should
have more room to operate in front of the net.
Trent Hunter is hoping to pick up where he left off before the
lockout when he was a Calder finalist for rookie of the year. Mike
York is a smart, two-way contributor with more skill than Peca, whom
he was traded for.
Oleg Kvasha returns at center less of an enigma, and Shawn Bates
needs to stay healthy. Up front, homegrown youngsters like Robert
Nilsson, Sean Bergenheim and Mattias Weinhandl will see significant
DEFENSE No unit was hit harder by the lockout and free agency than
the Isles, who lost three studs in Adrian Aucoin (Chicago), Roman
Hamrlik (Calgary) and Kenny Jonsson (retirement).
Alexei Zhitnik is a 10-year pro who can anchor the rear guard, Janne
Niinimaa will thrive throwing passes without a red line and Brent
Sopel is on the verge of a breakout season.
Brad Lukowich provides leadership and Cup experience. Radek Martinek,
Chris Campoli and Tomi Pettinen will round out the group.
Rick DiPietro could be on the cusp of stardom, and the Isles will go
as far as he takes them. Young, confident and capable, DiPietro is
ready to be the face of the franchise.
In Garth Snow, Isles have one of the more dependable tandems in the
COACHING Steve Stirling returns for his second season behind the
bench and has the ability to get their attention and scold when
A patient teacher, Stirling will be assisted by Dan Bylsma, Brad Shaw
and Jack Capuano, who have all brought energy from the first day of
PREDICTION Once again, the Islanders have the potential to go deep
into the playoffs. They take the ice with a new leadership core, a
new attitude and loads of skill in the New NHL.
If they play for each other and capitalize on the new rules, the
Islanders will finish no worse than fourth in the Eastern Conference.