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The Islanders moves this offseason showed that they aren't interested in rushing the development of their rookie forwards.
Last season, secondary scoring was a concern—albeit a minor one—for the team. Their second line struggled mightily at times. In the postseason, when things were clicking, it was clear of what was potentially there in Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Now that prospects are a year older and depth is deeper, it'd be shocking to see head coach Jack Capuano show the same level of patience with that line again this year.
Michael Grabner, who scored 16 goals in the shortened 2013, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard will certainly be asked to contribute on the top two lines from time to time, if not on a regular basis.
But if things aren't firing on all cylinders for the upstart Islanders, the logical thing to do would be to turn to Ryan Strome.
Strome isn't just the Islanders' top prospect, he's a top NHL prospect.
He skated on the left wing with Brock Nelson at center and Anders Lee at right wing in the Islanders' 4-2 loss to Calgary in a split-squad preseason opener in Regina, Saskatchewan. It's a possibility this could be a preview of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' top line if and when the Islanders are mostly healthy up front.
Speculation has been that Strome would move to the wing and receive a better chance to make the team because of it, and with Cal Clutterbuck possibly out for an extended period, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday, Strome may be a good candidate to join the Islanders to start the season. However, Lee is likely a more logical fit for Clutterbuck's bottom-six role.
As for the veterans on the second line, Okposo will ride the momentum that last postseason brought to a solid start this season, and Grabner will continue to produce as a fringe second-line player with lightning speed. Bailey already looks great in preseason, scoring two shorthanded goals against the Devils.
With all that being said, Strome will likely be limited to the AHL for the time being. Ten games played for three goals and three assists would seem appropriate. Like Nelson, however, if Strome gets his chance to take the ice and runs with it, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if Coach Capuano makes room for him to be an everyday fixture in the lineup.