The New York Islanders may not have forward Kyle Palmieri available to them to begin the season, head coach Lane Lambert told reporters today (link via Ethan Sears of the New York Post). Palmieri has yet to practice with the team during training camp, and this certainly seems like a more significant injury issue than what the Islanders called “maintenance” almost a week ago.
Palmieri has been skating on his own throughout camp but has not come close to appearing in a preseason contest. It does seem unlikely that Palmieri’s absence will stretch into something significantly long-term, but missing the season opener would mean at least a three-week absence from the original undisclosed injury, which is certainly nothing to brush off. It will be a significant hole for the Islanders to fill if he does miss time, given the 32-year-old winger is again ticketed for a top-six role, likely alongside Pierre Engvall and Brock Nelson. Palmieri was limited to 55 games last season due to injury, but he did manage to increase his production pace after a poor 2021-22 campaign, recording 16 goals and 33 points.
More updates from around the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Even after the departure of Mike Babcock and Brad Larsen behind the Columbus Blue Jackets bench, the Patrik Laine at center experiment hasn’t ended yet. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports that Laine has taken line rushes at center during each of the past two Blue Jackets practices and today was centering the team’s top line between Johnny Gaudreau and Kirill Marchenko. Shifting Laine to center full-time would certainly take the load off rookie Adam Fantilli, who could start the season in a more sheltered third-line role down the middle. It would also relieve the responsibilities of captain Boone Jenner, who was forced into averaging over 20 minutes per game last season thanks to the team’s thin depth down the middle. Laine did play a few games at center last season before an arm injury ended his campaign in late March.
- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson was a late scratch for tonight’s preseason tilt against the Ottawa Senators, and Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reports the circumstances surrounding said scratch are still unknown. If it’s injury-related, Habs fans can hope it’s only precautionary for their de facto number-one defenseman. If the team has any hopes of making noise with their young core in a suffocatingly tight Atlantic Division, Matheson’s play will be a huge part of it. The 29-year-old notched a career-high 34 points last season despite playing in just 48 games and still managed a +7 rating on a bottom-feeding team.