On the evening of Thursday, June 29, 2017, Isles fans gathered at the Northwell Health Ice Center for the annual Blue and White Scrimmage, that featured many of the Islanders’ brightest young prospects. Among those were F’s Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal, and G Linus Soderstrom. Fans were also able to catch glimpses of most of the 2017 Isles draft class which showcased D’s Robin Salo, Ben Mirageas, Sebastian Aho, and F Arnaud Durandeau. The scrimmage also included three, 20-minute games that were played 4-on-4, followed by a skills competition. The prospects were split up into three teams:
Team Blue: Team Blue was highlighted by F’s Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier.
Team White: Team White was highlighted by F’s Mathew Barzal, Kieffer Bellows, and G Linus Soderstrom.
Team Blue And White: Team Blue And White was highlighted by F Michael Dal Colle.
Game 1- Team Blue, 4 vs. Team White, 2
Game 2- Team Blue, 4 vs. Team Blue and White, 1
Game 3- Team White, 2 vs. Team Blue and White, 1
During mini camps, fans come out to see some of their favorite team’s young stars. For Isles fans, this group includes F’s Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal, Kieffer Bellows, Michael Dal Colle, and G Linus Soderstrom. Below is a quick recap of what we saw, or didn’t see, from those players.
Josh Ho-Sang: Ho-Sang was by far the most noticeable and energetic player on the ice. His blistering speed was on display and he was able to create a ton of space with the extra open ice. Not only was his speed on display, but his silky smooth hands were showcased on his breakaway goal in Game 2. In Game 1, he opened up the scoring by beating Linus Soderstrom with a bardown shot. In total, Ho-Sang tallied up two goals and two assists in two games.
Anthony Beauvillier: While Beauvillier’s name did not show up much on the score sheet, he had many good opportunities. He was quick, on the puck, and played extremely well defensively.
Mathew Barzal: Mathew Barzal showed Isles fans why he is such a valuable piece to GM Garth Snow. Every time he touched the puck, there was a sense of anticipation in the crowd. His blazing speed and smooth hands created numerous opportunities, and while he did not pot one in the back of the net, he came close on a plethora of occasions and put together a very impressive performance.
Kieffer Bellows: Bellows gave the Isles a taste of what kind of player he is. He spent most of his time around the net or in the slot, awaiting the chance to use his powerful shot. In Game 1, Bellows scored a very nice wraparound goal and had a few other chances stopped by McAdam.
Michael Dal Colle: MDC was the most disappointing player on the night. He needed a great performance to show he was ready to make the jump to the NHL and he did not have the night so many had hoped he would. He looked slow and did not create many chances for his team. He did have a nice stretch pass that led to a breakaway but that was really it. He’s going to have to step his game up if he wants to make the opening night roster.
Linus Soderstrom: Soderstrom had a tough first game, getting beat twice from far out and once on a nice move from Dalton Hunter. However, he rebounded nicely in his second game as he held a shutout until the final minute of the game, and ultimately ended up getting the 2-1 win.
On top of all the well-known young talent the Isles have, there were a few very unexpected standouts at the scrimmage. Below are a few players from the scrimmage that stood out to me.
Robin Salo: The 2017 second round pick was extremely impressive, and gave a glimpse of why he was a high selection. The 6’0, 185 lbs Finnish defenseman displayed his two-way game through his smooth skating ability, as he got himself involved in the rush, and was then able to recover and break up many passes on defense. He reminded me a lot of Nick Leddy, so hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.
Jeff Kubiak: Jeff Kubiak was an undrafted free agent who signed a contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the end of the 2016-17 season. He played the last four years of his career in the NCAA for Cornell. The left winger stands at 6’3, 212 lbs, and showed his big size with a couple of powerful drives to the net, including one that went in. However, the part of his game that jumped out was his speed. The kid’s got some wheels. For his size, it seemed like he was flying out there. He will play in Bridgeport come the start of the 2017-18 season, but he’s an interesting guy to watch come training camp.
Ryan Hitchcock: A local product from Manhasset, NY, Hitchcock was invited to attend the Isles mini camp. He played the last three seasons for Yale of the NCAA, and he is returning for his senior year. While Hitchcock’s 5’10, 176 lbs size doesn’t jump out, he is a very quick and crafty player. He was able to form instant chemistry with Josh Ho-Sang, as they combined for seven points in the two games. Hitchcock tallied two goals and an assist, and he and Ho-Sang were the most noticeable duo on the ice.
Scott Eansor: Eansor is a smaller guy at 5’9, 174 lbs, but he was invited to the mini camp due to his play with Mathew Barzal on the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. While Eansor did not have a great Game 1, he took over Game 3, scoring the only two goals for Team White, including one for the highlight reel. It’ll be interesting to see if the Isles sign him for this upcoming year.
The three games were not the end of the night as the Skills Competition followed. None of the six shooters scored in the shootout and that was the end of that. D Petter Hansson, an Islanders 2015 seventh round pick, won the hardest shot competition. The final event of the night was a breakaway challenge to see which team could score 10 goals first. There was a little comeback from Team White, and the awesome night concluded with all the baby Isles coming together and saluting the crowd.