The future of William Dufour and Aatu Räty on Long Island is just that – in the future. Neither of the Islanders’ top two prospects are likely to earn a spot with the NHL club after training camp, but there was a brief glimpse of what that future might bring Tuesday night.
At 8:04 in the first period on a night that went south for the Islanders, Dufour spotted Nikita Soshnikov high above the ice and fired a perfect pass to the Russian. Soshnikov continued to climb on Vitek Vanecek’s top shelf.
The Islanders then lost to the Devils 4-1 in a game where very little looked good. But this game stood out.
“I’ve been waiting for this for two years, two and a half years,” Dufour said. “So it’s good to play my first game in the NHL.”
Dufour, who skated with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, finished the night with a shot in 14:31 of ice time.
“He’s a big body that moves really well,” Cizikas said of Dufour before the game at the Prudential Center in Newark. “He’s got a good shot. He proved it in junior and he’s going to do it here tonight. Marty and I are going to help him out there. We’re going to tell him to play your game, to do the things that you are capable.
The assignment with two members of the identity line is intriguing for a player whose calling card at junior level was to score. The 6-foot-3 Dufour had 56 goals and 60 assists with the QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs last year, but the traditional role of the Cizikas line is to grind, physically play and perform the forward failure. Coach Lane Lambert said it’s too early to tell if this will be Dufour’s eventual game at the NHL level.
“He played well,” Lambert said. “He made a great pass on the first goal. I thought he was moving pretty well, using his body and making a few plays.
After back-to-back 4-1 losses to open the preseason, Lambert admitted the Islanders still have a long way to go.
“We have work to do,” he said. “There is no doubt about it.”
Ilya Sorokin stopped nine of 12 shots before Cory Schneider took over in front of the net in the second period.
Otto Koivula and Collin Adams skated alone on Tuesday. Samuel Bolduc and Isaiah George continued to be kept out of business.
New York Post