The Islanders have taken the first steps to preparing for an impending lockout, assigning 21 players and prospects to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) and two junior teams.
Nino Niederreiter and Travis Hamonic, both of whom played full seasons with the Isles last year, are the biggest names on the list being sent to the Sound Tigers. Niederreiter is coming off of a disappointing rookie campaign while Hamonic tacked on tons of ice time and blocked shots as part of his development into a blueline anchor. Both can use the time in Bridgeport, especially Niederreiter who could take this as an opportunity to re-develop some confidence and a scoring touch.
Also on the list is defenseman Matt Donovan, who was expected by many to make the Islanders’ roster this season; center Casey Cizikas; and goalies Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin. As for the junior assignments, both were expected — Griffin Reinhart will be back in Edmonton playing for the WHL’s Oil Kings, and Ryan Strome will be in the OHL with the Niagara IceDogs.
You can view the entire list here. Although the Isles haven’t exactly come out and said it, all clues outside of the organization point to this being part of the contingency plan for an untimely start to the 2012-13 season. They also point to me catching some games up in St. Catharines this year. Let’s go.