Islanders Need the Kids to Be More Than Alright

The New York Islanders finalized their 23-man roster on Tuesday. The roster had a couple surprise additions and omissions.

P.A. Parenteau was unexpectedly waived on Monday. He was claimed by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Parenteau signed a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. The plan was to reunite Parenteau with John Tavares, who he had his greatest success with four years earlier. The two played together just once this preseason, Sunday night’s loss to the Washington Capitals.

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Mathew Barzal (Andy Marlin USA TODAY Sports)

Parenteau’s departure paved the way for both 2015 first-round picks Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier to make the opening-night roster. Both kids basically forced their way onto the roster. Barzal narrowly missed the opening-night roster a season ago. He put together another impressive training camp and forced general manager Garth Snow and head coach Jack Capuano to put him on the roster. His play-making skills project to be elite. His defensive play needs to improve. The biggest surprise this preseason turned out to be Beauvillier. The team’s second pick in the first round of the 2015 draft impressed with his skating and two-way play.

The Islanders entered the 2015 draft without a first-round pick. They left Sunrise, Florida with Beauvillier and Barzal thanks to Griffin Reinhart. The defenseman was traded to Edmonton for their first and second round picks. Snow used the second-round pick to move back into the first round. Reinhart is currently in the AHL and both Beauvillier and Barzal are in the NHL.

Is History Repeating?

The duo’s stay could be short-lived if they do not perform. They can be with the Islanders for the first nine games before their entry-level contracts kick in. After nine games they will have to be either sent back to juniors (WHL Seattle Thunderbirds for Barzal, QMJHL Shawinigan Cataractes for Beauvillier) or stay on the Islanders for the entire season.

Related – Islanders 2016-17 Season Preview

The franchise has a history of rushing prospects to the NHL. Josh Bailey was selected ninth overall in the 2008 draft. Bailey was immediately placed on the roster for his cap hit. The then 19-year-old should have spent another season in junior and then the AHL. Too much was asked of Bailey at a young age and he is still trying to live up to that first-round selection. The following year, the Islanders selected John Tavares first overall. The captain has not spent a second in the minors and it has worked out nicely for them. The next season, not so much, as Nino Niederreiter was selected fifth overall.  He played nine games in the 2010-11 season before being sent back to juniors. Niederreiter made the team the following season as a 19-year-old and stayed the entire season. His contract was needed to help the team reach the salary-cap floor. The decision turned out to be disastrous. Niederreiter played on the team’s fourth line and scored just one goal. That would be the last season he would play with the Islanders as he was traded at the 2013 draft for Cal Clutterbuck.

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Ryan Pulock (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

The last few years Snow has exercised patience with his prospects. Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan all spent time in the AHL before being brought up to the big club. The brass is being very cautious with defenseman Ryan Pulock, who was returned to Bridgeport on Tuesday.

The Islanders decision to demote Pulock and defenseman Adam Pelech are solely based on their waiver-exempt status. Pulock’s stay in Bridgeport will likely be short lived, like Anders Lee’s stay a couple of years ago. Lee spent the first six games with the Sound Tigers before coming to the Islanders and scoring 25 goals in 2014-15. If the Islanders power play struggles out of the gate, expect Pulock and his 105 mph slapshot to be quarterbacking the unit.

Parenteau’s departure could also signal another first-round pick’s NHL debut. Joshua Ho-Sang made it to day two of training camp this season after famously oversleeping last training camp.

Ho-Sang dazzled this preseason with his speed and play-making skills, but more importantly his attitude. He was sent to Bridgeport last week to begin his first professional season. His stay there will likely be only a few weeks.

Snow stockpiled first-round picks for the past few seasons (five in the last three drafts) for a rainy day. He is hoping the kids replace a portion of the 135 points the team lost with the departures of Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen.