Ryan Pulock

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Joshua Ho-Sang a healthy scratch for Islanders opener

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Interesting lineup decision for New York Islanders coach Dough Weight when his team opens the 2017-18 season on Friday night.

Forward Josh Ho-Sang, one of the team’s best young players, will be a healthy scratch when the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres.

Veteran forward Jason Chimera will be in the lineup in his place.

Weight has said this preseason he is not afraid to give ice-time to the team’s younger players, and to an extent that seems to be true as Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier will both be in the lineup on Friday.

The fact that Ho-Sang is the odd-man out, though, is a little surprising given how strong of a preseason he had and how promising he looked last season in his limited look with the big club, recording 10 points and a 52 percent Corsi rating in 21 games while also playing an extremely exciting brand of hockey.

The 38-year-old Chimera played in all 82 games for the Islanders a season ago scoring 20 goals.

Defenseman Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are also healthy scratches for the Islanders on Friday.

Islanders, de Haan avoid arbitration with one-year, $3.3 million deal

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The Islanders and blueliner Calvin de Haan went right down to the wire.

Just hours before their arbitration hearing on Wednesday, the two sides agreed to a one-year, $3.3 million deal, per TSN. The contract comes after Sportsnet reported de Haan’s initial ask was $5 million, while the Isles offered $1.95M.

De Haan, 26, is coming off a solid campaign in which he posted career highs in games played (82), goals (five), assists (20) and points (25). He averaged just under 20 minutes per night, but that TOI figure is expected to increase following Travis Hamonic‘s trade to Calgary last month.

“Calvin is a home-grown product of the organization and has developed into one of our top defenseman during his time with the organization,” Isles GM Garth Snow said in a release. “He plays important minutes for our club and we’re excited to have him back for one more year.”

In the short term, this deal is a win for the Isles. It’s a more than affordable cap figure for a defenseman that logs the kind of minutes de Haan does, and makes for a very cost-effective blueline group. Snow now has just $21 million locked into eight guys for next season: de Haan, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey, Adam Pelech, Dennis Seidenberg, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield.

In the long term, though, this contract could come back to bite.

De Haan will be an unrestricted free agent next July and, should he put forth another solid campaign, will likely be looking for a long-term deal (possibly around the $5 million per mark requested in arbitration). That could be too rich for the Isles’ blood, especially if the John Tavares extension gets done.

That could create a scenario where de Haan is twisting in the wind all season, right up to the trade deadline. Then the conversation turns to where the Isles are at — if they’re in go-for-it mode, Snow would presumably keep de Haan and risk losing him for nothing at the end of the year.

Zadorov: Healthy scratch was ‘not fun,’ but confidence still high

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This has not been a banner campaign for Nikita Zadorov, yet his spirits remain intact.

Zadorov, the 16th overall pick at the 2013 draft, is averaging just over 17 minutes per game through 17 contests, with no goals and just two points (and a minus-6 rating).

That resulted in Avs head coach Jared Bednar healthy scratching Zadorov for win in Minnesota over the weekend, then easing the young Russian d-man back in during Monday’s OT win in Columbus (Zadorov played just 16:21, only Patrick Wiercioch played less among d-men).

“I had good talks with everybody in the organization, all the head guys,” Zadorov said, per the Denver Post. “It’s not fun to be in the stands but it’s a learning process. You forget about it, come back and refresh. Mentally, some players lose their confidence when (you’re scratched).

“I had kind of a bumpy first period last game, but second period I got my game back. My confidence is still really high and I feel good.”

Zadorov has been something of a disappointment since coming over from Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly blockbuster. He appeared in just 22 games last year, spending most of his time in AHL San Antonio, but did fare well with the Rampage — 10 goals and 29 points in 52 games.

Sometimes, it’s hard to forget Zadorov is still only 21 years old. That’s what happens when you debut as an 18-year-old, play 60 games as a 19-year-old and are considered one of the keys of a noteworthy trade. He’s still third among d-men in his draft class in terms of games played — only Seth Jones and ex-Sabres running mate Rasmus Ristolainen have more — and a few other ’13 first-rounders are looking to find their way, too (Mirco Mueller, Shea Theodore, Josh Morrissey, Ryan Pulock, etc.)

Of course, the Avs might not have the patience right now to watch a young defenseman learn on the job. From Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

American Thanksgiving is another critical point on the NHL calendar. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams, 78 per cent of those in playoff positions as of that date reach the playoffs. As a result, teams have a better idea of what they are and what they need.

Some of the wishes are obvious. Colorado and Detroit are looking for defencemen that can make a difference, although it’s not as if you can grow them in Toews’ garden. (The Avalanche are looking for more than one, likely two.)

Snow gives beleaguered Capuano a vote of confidence

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The Islanders are mired in the Eastern Conference basement with a 5-8-3 record, which has many calling for the head of bench boss Jack Capuano.

But Isles GM Garth Snow isn’t having it.

“Jack is an excellent coach,” Snow told TSN, giving his head coach a vote of confidence in the process. “We have good players. I love our coaching staff.”

The Isles have been bad to start the season, and there are several reasons for it. Prized free agent signing Andrew Ladd has just three points through 16 games. Jason Chimera has struggled to produce as well. On defense, the club has dealt with injuries to Ryan Pulock, Dennis Seidenberg and Travis Hamonic — the latter now playing through a suspected broken thumb.

Capuano, though, is the one that’s ended up in the crosshairs.

He’s been taken to task for an inability to replace the offense lost when Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo left in free agency. At times, he’s shouldered the blame — in Monday’s shutout loss to the Bolts, he said it was “on him” to find better line combinations — but at other times, he’s alluded to the fact a good chunk of his offense walked out the door this summer.

“Where are we going to get point production?” Capuano asked reporters after a shootout win over the Flyers. “One hundred and thirty-four points out of our lineup that we lost. Now we have to find a way. Like everything gets magnified, I get it. You guys are talking about the (losses) lately…but we have to find a way to get some balanced offense in our hockey team.”

Some saw those remarks as a shot at Snow, which in turn led some to predict Capuano’s firing was on the horizon.

It still might be. The Isles have a really tough stretch of the schedule coming up — a game this Friday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, then a three-game western road swing through Anaheim, L.A. and San Jose.

Related: No production from Ladd among many concerns for Isles

Goalie nods: After shouldering blame last game, Halak back in for Isles

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Just one game on the ledger tonight, but there’s still a goalie storyline to follow — in Brooklyn, the Isles will continue to ride Jaroslav Halak when they host the Bolts at Barclays.

Halak has received almost all the minutes since Thomas Greiss was on the hook for a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay back on Nov. 1.

Since then, Greiss has only made one appearance — in relief of Halak in a 4-1 loss to the Lightning on Nov. 10 — in what’s become another twist in New York’s ongoing goalie saga.

Halak’s most recent outing came on Saturday, in which he made 40 saves in a 3-2 OT loss in Florida. On paper, it looked like a strong effort — especially since the Isles were out-shot 43-21 — but, afterward, the veteran ‘tender stepped up and took blame for Jonathan Marchessault‘s game-tying goal with 13.6 seconds left.

“It shouldn’t go in. That’s on me,” Halak said, per Newsday. “Obviously it was a better game, but the second goal really bugs me. I can’t let it happen.”

These are certainly tough times for the Isles. The club has been thinned out on defense, with Ryan Pulock and Dennis Seidenberg on IR, and Travis Hamonic making an early return from a suspected broken thumb.

They’ve also been collectively outscored 10-2 by Tampa Bay this season, and the head-to-head series is only two games deep. Tonight’s game will be the third and final meeting of the year.

For the Bolts, Andrei Vaslievskiy gets the start. His last outing came in the aforementioned Nov. 10 win over the Isles, in which he made 31 saves on 32 shots.