I'm going to be upfront with everyone and tell you I did not see every single preseason game and missed the win in Boston but I did watch about six of the nine games and read, posted or watched every bit of information I could gather to go with past player performance.
Very tough decisions. I would go with twenty three which is the roster max as Simon sits out his five games and see who can stay healthy on the back line because the history says this group will not stay healthy long.
Garth Snow says he intends to go with the max or close, Nolan has said he likely will carry seven defenders, this is what I would do.
I would offer Berard 650k to play here and allow for incentives to bump it to one million if that kind of contract is allowed for a player his age. If that is not acceptable to Berard or his agent I would not sign him.
Assuming Berard does sign, I cannot make a trade I carry seven defenders:
Witt-Martinek-Sutton-Bergeron-Berard-Campoli-Gervais, I play all seven to open the season.
Johnson does not need to be put on waivers so he goes to the AHL. Freddy Meyer goes on waivers to send him to the AHL and if he's claimed problem solved.
Up front I have even tougher choice to make:
Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin-Sim-Vasicek-Satan-Sillinger-Hunter-make the club.
Tambellini, Bergenheim, Blake Comeau and Frans Nielsen make the roster and Ben Walter is my next pick but starts the season in Bridgeport.
Richard Park and Andy Hilbert if necessary go on waivers down the road and if the Islanders lose them so be it but as far as I concerned both are on the outside looking in as healthy scratches.
It's time these top prospects play full time in the NHL and get to use their potential because Hunter and Satan could be leaving next summer for openers.
Hilbert's age and scoring ability makes him the pick over Park but even with his new two year contract has done little to distinguish himself to where Bergenheim, Comeau, Tambellini, Nielsen or Walter sit for him any longer. Nielsen is an over aged prospect who showed he was not lost here last season when he got his chance, he played against veterans in European league's for years. From all reports Ben Walter has nothing left to prove in the American Hockey League as a center.
Unless there are a ton of injuries when/if Bates is ready to play, his Islander career is over.
That's twelve forwards, when Simon returns that makes thirteen. again injuries are going to open spots up front.
Twelve forwards and Simon:
My roster starts at twenty one. I can carry Park or Hilbert on my healthy scratch list and go with twenty three as a list to submit to the league if I want.
That's what I would do, I would also look to make a trade among my defense for a draft pick for Meyer before putting him on waivers but several teams have the same circumstances.