The chance to get a first look at John Tavares was the main attraction of the Islanders' recent minicamp, but the real proving ground for him will come at training camp in Saskatoon as he begins his NHL career. For many of the other players, the minicamp was a chance for them to measure their progress and then come back a year from now to see how much they've grown.
While the camp mostly was devoted to drills and system work, it was heartening to see the improved skill level from last summer. Here's a brief rundown of what to expect in terms of the pace of development for many of the players who attended, excluding those who already have signed professional contracts and those who attended on a tryout basis:
Casey Cizikas -- Fourth-round center from 2009 draft, who was placed on probation for his manslaughter conviction in Canada, has the chance to get on with his life and hockey career now by spending one more season with Mississauga St. Mike's in the Ontario Hockey League.
Jason Gregoire -- Third round left wing from 2007 is 20 but likely will play two more years at the University of North Dakota.
Anders Lee -- Sixth-round left wing from 2009 will leave behind his high school football career and spend this season devoting himself to hockey with Green Bay in the USHL. He then is expected to attend Notre Dame the following two seasons to continue his development.
Matt Martin -- Fifth-round left wing from 2008 would like to start season in Bridgeport but is holding out for a better deal from the Islanders. If he doesn't sign by the end of training camp, he'll head back to Sarnia for another OHL season.
Kirill Petrov -- Third-round right wing from 2008 suffered a fractured collarbone last season and got into only six games with Ak-Bars Kazan in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has three years remaining on his KHL deal and, hopefully, will play a major role for Russia at the World Juniors and a larger role in the KHL.
Rhett Rakhshani -- Fourth-round left wing from the 2006 draft is the senior captain at the University of Denver and likely will join the organization after his college season ends. Could finish the year in Bridgeport.
Doug Rogers -- Fourth-round center from 2006 heads back to Harvard for his senior season. Probably needs a big season to be signed.
David Toews -- Third-round right wing from 2008 likely will play at least two more years at the University of North Dakota. Needs to overcome injury problems to earn a regular role in the lineup.
Corey Trivino -- Second-round center from 2008 should win a major role on depleted Boston University team that lost several players to graduation. Trivino is stronger and has recovered from knee injury last season and should begin to show scoring potential. Figure at least two more years of college hockey.
David Ullstrom -- Fourth-round winger from 2008 will begin his first season in the Swedish Elite League. It's expected he will make the jump to North American pro hockey in one more year. Should play for Sweden at World Juniors.
Calvin de Haan -- Surprise No. 12 overall pick in June is expected to spend the next two seasons with OHL Oshawa, working to gain strength and experience.
Matt Donovan -- Fourth-rounder from 2008 moves from a successful season in the USHL to Denver University, where he will be a freshman. Should play at least two seasons of college hockey.
Travis Hamonic -- Second-rounder from 2008 heads back to Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League for one more season. He must be signed by June 1 next year and certainly could join Bridgeport at the end of the season.
Blake Kessel -- Sixth-rounder in 2007 figures to spend the next two seasons at the University of New Hampshire after a so-so freshman year.
Anton Klementiev -- Fifth-rounder in June got visa to leave Russia in time for final day of minicamp. He plans to play for OHL London for the next two seasons.
Aaron Ness -- Second-round pick from 2008 had a successful freshman season at the University of Minnesota and likely will spend the next couple of seasons there maturing and working on his strength and his shot to complement his skating and skill.
Jyri Niemi -- Third-rounder from 2008 missed minicamp with an injury but returns to Saskatoon in the WHL for his final season. Like Hamonic, he must be signed by June 1, 2010 and might join Bridgeport at end of season. Expected to play for Finland at World Juniors in Saskatoon.
Jared Spurgeon -- Sixth-rounder from 2008 missed minicamp after undergoing shoulder surgery but will play his final season with WHL Spokane. He's in the same situation as Hamonic and Niemi as a player who must be signed by June 1, 2010.
Anders Nilsson -- Third-round pick in June is expected to move up to the Swedish Elite League as a backup this season with the plan of becoming a starter the following season before moving to North America.
Kevin Poulin -- Fifth-round pick from 2008 returns to Victoriaville for another season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
BLOG UPDATE: Starting Wednesday night, Newsday will be making the move to a new blog operating system. The launch date has been pushed back a couple of days, but a change definitely is coming soon. Considering all the complaints I have received in the past from regular Islanders Beat commenters about problems created by those who post vulgar comments that disrupt the generally good hockey talk, I am happy to say the new system will require anyone who wishes to submit a comment to register. This should go a long way toward eliminating some of the electronic graffiti we have experienced in the past, and I hope I will be able to spend far less time attempting to police the comments section. To the many people who have maintained a commitment to discussing the Islanders with passion and respect for the opinions of others, I thank you and ask that you lead the way in registering to be a part of Islanders Beat in the future.
CONDOLENCES: Recently, one of the regular commenters here shared the sad news that a fan we all know as "Cincy" suffered the passing of his wife. I know that I speak for all the regulars here in saying that we send our condolences and heartfelt good wishes. We've all missed the intelligent and insightful commentary from "Cincy" but recognize from all that he brought to the blog what a good person he is and how hard this time must have been for him. Be well "Cincy."
VACATION NOTICE: I will be stepping away from the blog to use up my vacation and comp time before the start of training camp. However, others at Newsday will pick up the slack here while I am away, and I'm sure I will check in from time to time if there is any major news to report or comment about. Wishing you all a pleasant summer ahead and thanking you for your continued support.