New York Islanders: Biggest takeaways from first on-ice practice

Although training camp officially began for the New York Islanders on Sunday, Monday was the first day the team hit the ice. Here are the biggest takeaways from the day.

The Mat Barzal-New York Islanders Contract Saga Continues

After hearing from Mat Barzal‘s teammates on Sunday, the message was clear. Number 13 wants to be a New York Islander and that this issue will be sorted out sooner than later.

The Columbus Blue Jackets locked up their RFA in Pierre-Luc Dubois as their camp began, and my colleague Andrew Steel Davis believes Barzal could be getting a similar deal.

When we woke up this morning, it seemed this nightmare for many Islander fans would be over very soon, as Barzal was on the official training camp roster. He was put in the second group, whose camp began at approximately 11:40 (first group went on ice at 9:45)

But 11:40 came and went, as the team’s most prized possession was nowhere to be found.

Many fans are wondering what the hold up is, as with a short training camp to begin with, Barzal is losing valuable ice time. Could this affect his availability to play in the team’s first game on Jan 14 (Vs. Rangers)?

General manager Lou Lamoriello voiced that Barzal is on Long Island and is ready to go once a contract has been signed.

Until then, his name will continue to remain on the official training camp roster.

Ilya Sorokin Has Officially Arrived

The name Ilya Sorokin has caused Islander fans to salivate ever since 2014, the year the Islanders obtained his rights. Since then, he has been dominating the KHL, but decided to not re-sign with his club, but electing to head to North America. Sorokin signed a one-year deal back in July, which allowed him to join the team in Canada for the playoffs. It also allowed him to burn a year of his ELC, as he followed that up by signing a one-year extension worth $2 million.

But let’s not discuss Sorokin’s contract, but rather what we saw from him on the ice today.

As a goaltender myself, I tend to look at the little things when evaluating a player at this position. Although today was just the first day, one thing is certain. Sorokin is a quick netminder, but also a netminder that is positionally sound and aggressive. He looked very comfortable out there.

This is not the first time Sorokin is practicing with the team, as he joined the team in the Canadian bubbles. By doing that, he gave himself more time to get acclimated to the North American ice surface, as well as the speed of the NHL game.

As camp goes on, look for Sorokin to get even more comfortable. And as his teammates get into game form, we will start to see what all the hype was about.

Cal Clutterbuck Dealing with Numbness

On Sunday, it was announced that Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Corey Schneider had all been signed, which meant this Islanders’ fourth line of Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck would be united for another season.

Both Cizikas and Clutterbuck missed valuable time last year due to skate cuts. This fourth line is integral to the team’s success, and that was evident in the role they played during last year’s playoff run.

While Cizikas told us he was healthy on Zoom while holding his baby girl, the same cannot be said for Clutterbuck.

He revealed to the media yesterday that he still has numbness in his fingers, as his skate cut got him on the wrist causing nerve damage. This injury occurred back in mid-December.

When he eventually returned from his injury, he looked uncomfortable and quite frankly scared to get hit. Hopefully, that fear has diminished.

It is great news that his wrist has healed. But should he be playing if he is not 100-percent? This fourth line is crucial to the team’s success, but only when they are healthy. When one of the players on the MC Squared line is absent, that line isn’t as effective.

The excellent news is Clutterbuck is not in pain. But It is worth keeping an eye on Cal as training camp rolls on.