There will be some familiar players missing from the lineup Friday when the Charlottetown Islanders play their first game since being rebranded.
Five Islanders are at NHL camps after attending rookie camps earlier this summer. They are forward Yan Pavel Laplante (Phoenix), defencemen Ryan Graves (New York Rangers) and Troy Vance (Dallas) as well as goalies Antoine Bibeau (Toronto) and Eric Brassard (Tampa Bay).
“We don’t expect them to be back in the lineup by Friday,” coach Gordie Dwyer said Wednesday. “We hope for the best for our players. Our goal is to make sure players develop here and have a chance potentially one day to play in the National Hockey League.”
The Islanders are far from the only team in this situation with Friday’s opponents, the defending Memorial Cup champs, expected to be without stars Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.
The Islanders will have Matej Beran in the lineup as he returned after attending Columbus Blue Jackets’ camp.
One thing was clear Wednesday talking to Islanders’ brass — they will not make excuses.
“We can’t worry about them up there now,” Dwyer said of the five veterans not in Charlottetown. “We have to worry about what we have in our dressing room here. We’ll be ready to play.”
After a month-long training camp the team is ready for the regular season to begin.
“We look forward to starting the season,” Dwyer said. “It’s an exciting time for everybody."