Ted Nolan disusses his roster decisions.

New York Islander Fan Central | 10/03/2007 12:08:00 AM | | | | | |
NYI.com did an interview with Ted Nolan following today’s practice, pertaining to the roster moves that were made.

* On having eight defensemen on the roster:

“It’s a good luxury to have with eight or more strong defensemen who could play for us. It’s not necessarily about picking the most skilled people, but the right people. It’s going to be exciting, because every decision we make is going to be a tough one. This bodes well for us, because if it was easy, than we wouldn’t have people competing for jobs.”

* On filling the power play spot next to Marc-Andre Bergeron:

“We have a number of guys who can fit in on the power play. Campoli has some offensive ability and Sutton could jump into that position. Martinek is another guy. We have a bunch of guys who could fill that spot.”

* On the importance of defense:

“There is no question we’ve been focusing on the defense right from the get-go. From the first day of training camp, we emphasized our coverage of the defensive zone. Defense is the way to compensate for any weaknesses we might have. That’s why we have a tough decision on defense. We had a couple of young guys come in and play pretty well. Aaron Johnson played pretty well, making it even more complicated. Hopefully, we come up with the best solution as to who plays opening night.”

* On Jeff Tambellini being sent to Bridgeport:

“In order for Jeff to be up here, he has to be among the top nine forwards. Jeff’s not a fourth-line guy. The way Sim and Fedotenko played in camp, and the way Andy Hilbert performed for us consistently last year, it was just one of those things. That’s not to say he won’t be back up here in a very short time. He’ll get his chance, and if he performs on a consistent basis, he’ll stay here.”

* On Andy Hilbert playing alongside Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek:

“Andy will be a very reliable defensive person on the line with Vasicek and Satan. If you look at all the big lines on any team, there’s always one guy who is more defensively-minded, as the high guy and the first one back. He’s one of those guys who does a lot of the work, but doesn’t get the credit for it.”

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Obviously it was about last year with Hilbert for the coach and for his defensive play combined with a new two year contract. Problem with Hilbert on a second line is Vasicek scored six goals last season and is not a player who produces as a second line player for this to work he must produce and Satan cannot disappear or go into an extended slump. Do not recall Hilbert playing as a left wing with Satan last season.

Greg Logan in his Newsday blog asks the question why Andy Hilbert over Tambellini?

“I don’t know about scoring, but he’ll be a very reliable defensive player on that line,” Nolan said of Hilbert’s new role. “You look at all the big lines on any team, and they always have one guy who is more defensive-minded. He can be the high guy in the slot and the first guy backchecking and do the grunt work on the forecheck, one of those guys that does all the work but doesn’t get a lot of the credit for it. So, Andy’s going to be that guy on that line.”

“Jon Sim’s a great player, and he’s going to fit well on that line and complement those guys perfectly,” Hilbert said Tuesday after practice. “I’m not a veteran by any means, but I’ve played long enough to know a lot of things can happen. You only can control the things you can control and that’s working hard and letting everything take care of itself.”

* Playing with Satan and Vasicek will be a different experience for Hilbert.

“It’s something you have to get used to,” he said. “They’re European hockey players who play well together. You can tell they have chemistry right away. I have to complement them as well as possible by trying to get in on the forecheck, driving the net and doing the little stuff and letting them take care of the big stuff, so to speak.”

* By “big stuff,” Hilbert meant scoring. Last season, he went 22 games before recording his first assist and 25 games before potting his first goal. Hilbert totaled eight goals and 28 points for the season. But even though he managed just one point in the final 13 games, including the first-round playoff loss to Buffalo, Hilbert won Nolan’s admiration and faith by playing with an injured shoulder that made it difficult for him to hold the stick, much less shoot with authority.

“A lot of guys play hurt at that time of year,” Hilbert said. “It was something I had to do, and I just tried to play as well as possible.”

“I have scored all the way up my whole career,” Hilbert said. “Last year, I played with Silly and Hunts, and my role changed a little bit. If this is the role I have where I’m called upon to put some more points on the board, that’s something I have to take in stride and, hopefully, I’ll accomplish it. But I’m just going to go out there and work hard. Whatever role I’m put in by Teddy is a role I’m going to cherish.”

“My game has evolved into being more of a two-way hockey player at this level,” Hilbert said. “That’s something I’ve had to really work on. To be playing with Miro and Vasy, they’re obviously more offensive-oriented guys. So, I’ll take that as it comes. I’ve played on offensive lines before, so, I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. I’m just going to go out there and play.”

NYI Fan Central Comments:
The pressure is on and he does have to produce. A second line center with six goals and a left wing with eight goals is not going to be enough on a team that needs scoring and defensive play.