EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — New York Islanders defenseman Isaiah George already knows that he isn’t going to be in the NHL this season.
The 19-year-old prospect has one more year to play with his junior team, the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), but he’s impressed at rookie camp as a legitimate name to watch for on the Islanders’ blue line in 2024-25 and beyond.
So much so that he’s not sure where he’ll be on Thursday — either at the first day of Islanders training camp or heading back to London to join the Knights for the start of the OHL season.
“I’ve always known how this works so I’m just here to do my best and put in a good impression,” George said on the final day of rookie camp on Tuesday. “So every time I come back, they have higher expectations for me in terms of where they see me.”
Overcoming an injury at Islanders rookie camp last season, George took a sizable step forward in his development with London, recording seven goals and 15 assists (22 points) in just 54 games. Stressing that he still needs to improve his offensive game, he had 23 points in 67 games in 2021-22. His penalty minutes also dropped from 32 to 14 last year while maintaining a +23 rating.
At rookie camp, George showed flashes of a burgeoning two-way game with a stout defensive foundation that is supported by the sort of athleticism that made him one of the top skaters of the 23-man bunch.
— Joe Pantorno (@JoePantorno) September 15, 2023
“I think I made a pretty good [impression],” George said. “I wanted to show them that I’m a good defender, I can move my feet and make some decent plays. I just want to show that I can be some part of the future.”
Whenever he does return to the OHL, George will be the top man of the Knights’ defense and a veteran of the squad where the Islanders will be hoping he can make the final tweaks necessary to his game to make a strong case of joining the NHL club next season.
“[This year is about] making sure I’m playing with a lot of intensity and picking up on the little things and the little skills that I need to go to the next level,” George said. “So just keeping those things in mind for next year so I can make that jump. Being an older guy on the team with more experience, I want to be a good role model and set the tone with my play on the ice, and be someone that can play in all scenarios.”
For more on Isaiah George and the Islanders, visit AMNY.com