Originally posted on Islanders Hockey Blog  |  Last updated 1/16/13
Visnovsky to Return?As I wrote yesterday the Kontinental Hockey League was expected to suspend Lubomir Visnovsky if he didn’t report to the New York Islanders’ training camp on Monday. As expected Visnovsky didn’t show up, instead he was seen on the bus with his KHL team on their way to Prague for their game tonight. A game that he will not be able to play in.Following his absence to the deadline the Islanders had set for him to report to camp, the KHL was forced to suspend him from playing another game in their league. The suspension will last until a resolution is found with the NHL and the Islanders. A solution that may have been found a lot sooner than may have been previously thought.Earlier tweeted Visnovsky’s agent tweeted that his client “looks forward to reporting to the New York Islanders after tending to “personal reasons” which have kept him from reporting.” Also earlier today, Arthur Stape, tweeted that these “personal reasons” may take up to 2-3 weeks to resolve, but after which the expectation is that Visnovsky will indeed report. Can this story have a happy ending after all?Islanders Suspend TwoThe New York Islanders announced the suspension of forwards Josh Bailey and Jesse Joensuu due to their injuries suffered while playing overseas. The suspension is a surprise to no one, and will be lifted once the two get over their respective knee and groin issues. All this means is that the Islanders don’t have to pay the two forwards until they pass their physicals.Islanders Stack Up On DefenseThrough the last two days the Islanders have made two additions to their roster, claiming defensemen Joe Finley and Thomas Hickey on waivers.Other than being defensemen, and both being first round picks, the similarities pretty much come to a screeching halt there. Joe Finley, drafted as the 27th overall pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2005 NHL Draft, is 6’8” and over 250 lbs. He’s a big body, he’s very physical, and has very capable skating and passing ability for a player his size. Early indications are that he’ll be utilized as the physical presence needed in Bridgeport to help protect the prospects developing there, and as a backup to Matt Carkner in case of injury.Thomas Hickey on the other hand is pretty much the opposite; he’s 5’11” and 190 lbs. for one thing. He was drafted 4th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2007 NHL Draft. His talent analysis states his strong suits as his skating, confidence on and off the ice, and leadership (he was an alternate captain for the Manchester Monarchs). Some suggest that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Scott Pellerin, who was an assistant coach for the Monarchs prior to being hired by the Sound Tigers, may have had a strong say in the claim being made by the organization. He also possesses great on-ice vision, very good ability at moving the puck out of his own zone, and strong potential to become a future power-play quarterback. Biggest downside, he’s had to deal with a few injury problems here and there that have shortened a few seasons. However he’s 100% healthy now and he’s currently viewed as a low risk, high reward claim by the organization.First Line RW NamedThroughout the summer, and the lockout, there has been speculation on who would accompany John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the Islanders’ first line come opening day. Would it be the new guy Brad Boyes, the old friend Kyle Okposo, or another playmaker like Josh Bailey? Well Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano decided to end the speculation by officially naming Kyle Okposo the first line right winger to start the season. Considering the circumstances of the short training camp and everything , this is to be expected. While I’m sure that there were some thoughts to throwing Brad Boyes in that mix, Josh Bailey was automatically out due to injury, this is the smartest choice. There isn’t enough time for Tavares and Moulson to get used to their new teammate with only 5 days of practices until game time, so going with the safe bet of Okposo, with whom they’ve played on two previous occasions, should be a surprise to no one. However, expect Boyes to be the number one contender for the top line spot if Okposo doesn’t match expectations. With only 48 games in the season to decide the playoffs there’s no room for scoring droughts in your top line. It’s either produce or be demoted for the Islander forwards this season.
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