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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders have finalized their roster without making an addition.
It means the Islanders will go with 12 forwards, seven defencemen and a pair of goalies the rest of the way. Many teams will carry 13 forwards, seven defencemen and scratch two skaters for games.
“We’ve got some players at our disposal if we run into injuries,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.
While the trade window closed on Sunday teams had until Thursday to sign free agents.
The Islanders roster configuration means that on some nights one of the defencemen will be asked to play up front. It happened Wednesday in Sydney, N.S., when German blue-liner Alexander Dersch played as a forward in a 6-2 loss to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
“For Alex, it’s an opportunity to get in the lineup,” Hulton said. “The one thing with Alex is you’re always going to get effort. He’s a hard-working kid.”
Colin Van Den Hurk, who has experience playing the wing, could also see time as a forward but Hulton said Hunter Drew, who played as a winger in his rookie season with the Isles, would stay on the blue-line.
For some games, the team could go with seven defencemen and 11 forwards, but there are a lot of variables in play when making that decision, including the opposition and that week’s schedule.
“For us to be effective, we think we have to roll four lines a lot of nights,” Hulton said.
January is a busy month for the Islanders with 11 games, including some contests against some of the league’s top teams, and Hulton said they are trying to get back its structure after the Christmas holidays. He called it a two-month sprint to the post-season.
“We have to figure out now, over the next two months, how we have to play to be successful come playoff time,” he said.
And that won’t be playing a run-and-gun style where the team trades goals with other clubs.
“We got away from our details last night and it cost us,” he said Thursday while driving back from Nova Scotia. “It wasn't a 6-2 game, but we have to be one of the sharper detailed teams in our league because we’re not going to cover up mistakes with high-end offence.”
It was an important message to learn with the league-leading Rouyn-Noranda Huskies coming into the Eastlink Centre Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest. The Huskies were the benchmark in the league before adding forwards Louis-Filip Cote and Joel Teasdale, as well as Summerside native Noah Dobson, a defenceman, during the trade period.
“They’re the top dog in the league for a reason,” Hulton said. “You talk about being sharp in your details, this is a great test to see how we respond.”
A look at the Charlottetown Islanders final roster for the 2018-19 season.
Colin Van Den Hurk