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Islanders make first cuts of training camp


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders released four players Thursday as the whittling down of its training camp roster begins.

Forwards William Leblanc and Elio Di Meo, as well as defencemen Ludovic Karsh and Domenico Argento, were cut leaving the team with 31 players (three goalies, nine defencemen and 19 forwards).

“We’re really putting an emphasis on foot speed and skating and we just felt we had other candidates, possibly younger and possibly with better feet,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said. “There’s no sense prolonging it. We have to get down to some workable numbers.”

Di Meo, a 19-year-old Montreal native, was drafted by the Islanders in the 12th round of the 2015 draft. He played junior A last year in Montreal.

“It’s hard. He’s a good kid, he’s worked really hard, but he just basically didn't fit with what we’re looking for this year,” Hulton said.

Leblanc, 19, played 23 games in 2015-16 with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and scored 31 goals and 72 points in 49 games last season with the Granby Inouk junior A squad.

Argento, a 19-year-old Montreal native, spent part of two seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2014-15 and 2015-16. He played for four different junior A teams last year in central Canada.

Karsh, a 19-year-old Drummondville native, played junior A in Quebec last season.

Hulton said the moves allow the players to try to get to another major junior team’s camp while providing the Islanders a chance to get more of a look at the remaining players.

“It isolates the position battles,” he said. “Now we go into back-to-back games on the road to get a better read.”

Charlottetown travels to Moncton tonight and Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday for 7 p.m. pre-season games.

As the numbers decrease in camp, the hope is the competition level increases.

“We met individually with everybody left in camp today to re-emphasize that message,” Hulton said. “Things are getting narrowed down. For some guys, we were honest that if they’re going to make this team, we’re going to have to see more than what we've seen to date. We think they have it in them.”

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