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Ross Johnston seeking role with New York Islanders as camp begins today

Ross Johnston is motivated to earn his spot with the New York Islanders as the on-ice component of training camp begins today. He skated with other Island pros, university and major junior players this summer in Pownal.
Ross Johnston is motivated to earn his spot with the New York Islanders as the on-ice component of training camp begins today. He skated with other Island pros, university and major junior players this summer in Pownal. - Jason Malloy
POWNAL, P.E.I. —

Ross Johnston is looking to prove he can play a larger role for the New York Islanders this season.

The 25-year-old Suffolk native and his Islanders’ teammates begin the on-ice component of training camp today.

Ross Johnston plays for the New York Islanders.
Ross Johnston plays for the New York Islanders.

“You have to earn a spot on the team and prove to them you can play and prove you can be in the lineup each and every night, so that’s my goal,” he said following a skate in Pownal in August.

Johnston, entering his fifth season as a pro, is in the second year of a four-year deal, but he’s taking nothing for granted.
“Your job can be taken. There are no guarantees,” he said. “I’m aware of that and I always look forward to going back and earning my spot each and every year.”

Johnston only played 17 games last season as the Isles added players during the off-season, leaving Johnston fighting to get into the lineup.

“It’s tough,” he acknowledged, “but with that comes opportunities to work on little parts of your game. . . I believe leaving at the end of the year I came out a better player than I went in.”

Johnston’s game is based around using his six-foot-five, 235-pound frame to his advantage.

It’s about puck possession and controlling the play below the hash marks. He worked on it a lot last year in practice and continued trying to strengthen that aspect of his game during the off-season. He also continued to work on his skating.

While the game continues to get faster, Johnston and others believe there’s still a place in the game for physical play.

In New York, Johnston has a number of players he can learn from. Guys like Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck all play with grit like Johnston.

“Being able to play with those guys that (have) a similar role to me and work hard for everything they get pays dividends,” Johnston said. “You can talk to them and they understand. You can also see what they work on.”

Johnston said veteran defenceman Luca Sbisa helped him a lot last year as they pushed each other to improve.

Johnston began his junior career with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals. He played parts of two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League seasons with the Moncton Wildcats, a year with the Victoriaville Tigres before ending his junior career with the Charlottetown Islanders in 2014-15.

He split most of his first pro season between the AHL and ECHL before making his NHL debut in April 2016 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related links:

    • Johnston signs four-year deal with New York Islanders

    • Ross Johnston cherishes NHL debut with New York Islanders

    • Ross Johnston's NHL biography

Suffolk's Ross Johnston skated with other pro, university and major junior players in August at the Pownal Sports Centre.
Suffolk's Ross Johnston skated with other pro, university and major junior players in August at the Pownal Sports Centre.

Need to know

Ross Johnston

Who – A 25-year-old hockey player from Suffolk.

NHL team – New York Islanders.

Height/weight/position – Six-foot-five, 235-pound left-winger.

Statistics

Season         League  GP       G         A        Pts.      PIM

2015-16           AHL      39        1          3          4          79

2015-16           ECHL    13        4          7        11          23

2015-16           NHL        1        0          0          0           4

2016-17           AHL      62        8          7         15       135

2017-18           AHL      38        3          8          11       113

2017-18           NHL     24        3          3            6         62

2018-19           NHL     17        1          3           4          23

Pre-season – The Islanders take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and Detroit Red Wings on Monday, Sept. 23 at Nassau Coliseum.

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